Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Color me pink for appalled

Kentucky Fried Chicken has announced a new partnership with the Susan B. Komen Foundation called 'Buckets For the Cure'. This has been accepted with an astonishing level of pessimism by others with breast cancer. Actually, everyone I know is pretty ticked off by this. Here's why:

- Ways to avoid cancer and keep it at bay include eating healthy, and skipping fast food, especially fried fast food, such as is sold at KFC.
- For the purchase of every pink bucket, they will donate 50 cents. What a whopping amount. I am not sure what a bucket of chicken costs but 50 cents is such a significant amount.
- Then do the math. They want to make the single largest donation to breast cancer research, $8.5 million. At 50 cents per bucket, that means they want to sell 17 million buckets of fried chicken. Yes you can make donations to the fund, which currently stands at $2600, so they do have a long way to go. So they want to sell a lot of chicken.

(My disclaimer: I haven't eaten KFC chicken since the 1970's. I do remember it as yummy but greasy.)

I don't know but I think this clearly goes into the pink washing category of shameful, over-exploitation of breast cancer programs. It also clearly illustrates the issue of how much of a product's sales actually go to a cause. If you read the details when something is sold for a cause, it may say something like '1/2 of our profits from the sale of this product will go to a cause'. Well, if the profits on a $50 item is $5, that means $2.50 would go.

If a product retails for $50, chances are the store makes a good chunk of that. So if the manufacturer is selling something which has a suggested retail of $50, their cost is probably around $10, their wholesale price may be something like $15. (I don't think my numbers are so great here but they give you an idea. How else can stores sell things at 50% off if they aren't buying for less than half the suggested sales price.)

Anyway, the point is KFC wants to sell 17 million buckets (a heck of a lot of chicken) in the name of raising money for the pink washing cause. I'm not going there anytime soon.


Ann said...

Wow, I think you are off-base with this one. In the first place, if I had to guess, I'd say your numbers are way off. I doubt profits are anything close to what you say: there is electricity, lighting, employee costs, taxes, franchise fees, on and on in the profits margins. KFC is actually a bunch of small businesses that are franchised. I also think that they don't have to donate any money at all to breast cancer research and yet they do.

I think a lot of us bloggers are on an anti-breast cancer charity bandwagon. I can see that it's unfair to have one type of cancer get all the attention -- and I can understand the dislike of disease being treated as a marketing tool - but the truth is that research into breast cancer does help other cancers.

Revlon donated lots of money to breast cancer researchers focusing on herceptin - they came up with a treatment that vastly extends the life of a woman with HER2 breast cancer - and now they are testing it on stomach cancer, etc. Breast cancer research doesn't only benefit breast cancer patients.

Research money to cure cancer isn't a bad thing. Even if the company uses it as an advertising tool to sell chicken. Give and take makes the world go around.

Dee said...

Ann, I think your point that any funding to help advance the prevention and treatment of any kind of cancer is a good thing because it can help other diseases. On the other hand, I think Caroline makes a good point: fatty and processed foods are implicated in an increased risk of any kind of cancer. So, it's almost like promoting something that we know can increase cancer risk by buying their product (then again, after reading Anticancer, there are a heck of a lot of other products out there that can increase cancer risk). It might be that KFC is trying to assauge its guilt for serving bad food by donating to a good cause . . . on the other hand, it can be seen as a marketing ploy to get more people to buy their product. I'm distrustful of big corporations, especially pharmaceutical companies, so when companies try to make more money off of "cause marketing", I'm distrustful.