Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Susan G. Komen for the Cure doesn't understand breast cancer.

You'd think they would.

You see Susan G. Komen for the Cure is a charity set up in 1982 in memory of breast cancer victim Susan G. Komen. According to their website they've raised over $1.5 billion for the fight against breast cancer.

So why would I suggest they don't understand breast cancer? Simple. For this year's runs they've teamed up with KFC in their, "Buckets for the Cure" campaign. By teaming up with Susan G. Komen for the Cure, KFC is able to advertise their buckets of chicken as a tool in the fight against breast cancer - something that will likely drive sales of deep-fried chicken as well as help with their corporate image. A whole 50 cents from every pink bucket sold will go to Susan G. Komen for the Cure with a minimum KFC contribution of $1 million.

For KFC this is an incredible coup. Not only is this a feel-good cause but they're likely to make a fortune off of it. KFC hopes to donate $8.5 million to Susan G. Komen for the Cure and by my calculations that'll mean the sale of 17 million pink buckets of chicken.

17 million pink buckets containing 255 million pieces of deep-fried chicken, and I imagine that along with the 17 million pink buckets KFC will sell at least 34 million medium orders of fries, 17 million orders of gravy and 17 million orders of a KFC "salad".

So in effect Susan G. Komen for the Cure is helping to sell deep fried fast food and in so doing, helping to fuel unhealthy diets and obesity across America, an odd plan given that diet and obesity certainly impact on both the incidence and recurrence of breast cancer.

According to the helpful summary found at the National Cancer Institute, obesity increases the relative risk of developing post menopausal breast cancer by 50%. They also report that maintaining a body mass index of 25 could prevent 11,000 to 18,000 deaths per year from breast cancer in U.S. women over age 50, that breast cancer is more likely to be detected at a later stage in obese women than in lean women, and that weight gain during adulthood has been found to be the most consistent and strongest predictor of breast cancer risk in studies in which it has been examined.

It would be one thing if KFC simply handed over a cheque to Susan G. Komen for the Cure in the amount of $8.5 million - that'd be incredibly generous and welcome. However it's quite another thing for Susan G. Komen for the Cure to sell their name to KFC and allow them to use it to encourage the consumption of high calorie, high sodium fast food and the promotion of a lifestyle that increases the risk of not only breast cancer, but a myriad of diet and weight related illnesses. That's just reprehensible.

Shame on you Susan G. Komen for the Cure, surely you know better and yet you've chosen greed over responsibility.

Want to tell Susan G. Komen for the cure to stop "pinkwashing" KFC? You can send them a note with just a few simple clicks.

(Below is KFC's TV spot showing how they're using this partnership to sell goodwill and bad chicken - email subscribers will have to head to the blog to watch)

[Hat tip to my friend Julie from Dinner with Julie]

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  1. Wow! Kudos for posting this. If only KFC could hand over the money but that's not how it works, right?! And if only Susan G. Komen would use discretion in aligning with corporate sponsors but that's not how it works either. Crossroads but sure doesn't seem it has to be that way. Stay true to your beliefs and values and all else will come?!

  2. Mark McGill, RD Ottawa8:51 am

    Yoni why do you insist on angering up my blood so often as you do?

    And I thought that Coke/McDonald's and the Olympics was bad!


  3. Not to mention the SOURCE of KFC's chicken! Chock full of antibiotics and hormones from mass production farms. See "Food, Inc.".

  4. Check out http://thinkbeforeyoupink.org/

    It's a great campaign that "calls for more transparency and accountability by companies that take part in breast cancer fundraising, and encourages consumers to ask critical questions about pink ribbon promotions."

    Questions like: What is the company doing to assure that its products are
    not contributing to the breast cancer epidemic?

  5. Thanks for the link Samantha.

    What a sad societal statement that such a page is necessary.

  6. I have long been confused by Komen's choices. Around this time of year, Race advertising appears on all kinds of foods, not one of them the least bit healthy. M&M's, cookies, cereals, I think even soda?! Bizarre, really. I guess they just want the sponsorships so they'll take whoever offers, even if it's companies whose foods contribute to obesity which raises cancer risk...

  7. Eleanor4:31 pm

    Companies capitalizing on "pink" products (i.e. making money by advertising how "generous" they are) has always irritated me. One of the most vexing things (food products aside) I've seen was in a magazine. It was an advertisement for an obscenely expensive makeup compact, with the footnote: 1% of proceeds donated. That doesn't count!

  8. All the rage in LA is to open an NPO with a feel good goal and raise money from big corp so they can line each other pockets off us.

  9. Ugh. What a revolting, hypocritical, oxyMoronic partnership.

    Right up there with SPCA in bed with egg producers and McDonald's with Weightwatchers.

    Whatever next? The Pope and paedophilia? Oh...

  10. Glad you posted this. My immediate thoughts when seeing the commercial on TV was that cardiovascular disease kills more women than breast cancer. You're better off avoiding foods like KFC's chicken and avoiding a myriad of health complications than giving your money to this cause. We also know that you're more likely to order the unhealthy stuff, especially if healthy stuff is listed on the menu. This kind of contradictory fundraising is greed - pure and simple.

  11. What the Cluck? Tell KFC and Susan G. Komen for the Cure to stop pinkwashing!
    With their "Buckets for the Cure" campaign, KFC and Susan G. Komen for the Cure are telling us to buy buckets of unhealthy food to cure a disease that kills women. When a company purports to care about breast cancer by promoting a pink ribboned product, but manufactures products that are linked to the disease, we call that pinkwashing. Make no mistake--every pink bucket purchase will do more to benefit KFC's bottom line than it will to cure breast cancer. Join us in telling KFC and Susan G. Komen for the Cure to rethink this pinkwashing partnership.

    Breast Cancer Action

  12. In reply to BCAction: better yet - if we all ignored the Komen Foundation (whatever that is) in all their endeavors, maybe they'll just quietly go away. They aren't using the money for research because the medical industry doesn't want a cure. Can you imagine their profits bottoming out if they found a "cure"?? Oh man. The foundation would do well to promote prevention if they really wanted to help. The only people they're helping is themselves to a large paycheck.

  13. This whole campaign, and many others like it, are simply shameful! It's a common scene for fund-raisers to be flanked by unhealthy sponsors, food, and habits. Everything at KFC, besides being filled with industrial food, is fried in industrial oils like soybean and cottonseed oil - by-products of the industrial waste processes. If they would use real food and cook it in real, healthy oils such as butter or lard or tallow from healthy animals (not conventional, factory farms and concentrated animal feeding operations), that would be one thing. But it's asking way too much for a company like KFC to comprehend anything about sustainable, traditional, whole, healthy foods.

    Unfortunately, the average person doesn't know much about nutrition (and for that matter, many doctors and nutritionists don't either). It's a rare practitioner indeed who connects the dots from lifestyle and nutrition to health condition - which seems unthinkable to me, because the body needs real food - protein, fats, carbohydrates, and nutrients from sources that are not tainted with chemicals, hormones, pesticides and antibiotics.

    I participated in a walk for Diabetes a few years back, against my better judgment for a friend's daughter. I knew darn well the money would either not go to the cause at all, or would simply fund more drug and procedure research rather than actually informing people that these diseases are all preventable and curable with simple diet change to real foods. During the afterparty, they served soda pop, Gatorade and KFC! Go figure!

  14. Anonymous12:17 pm

    More proof that the Susan G Komen charity is not interested in finding a cure- dare I say, maybe it's just the opposite? Remember, it's not what you say, it's what you do.

  15. Shame on Susan G. Komen for getting involved with KFC and such a horridly named campaign. I understand awareness and the greater good, but this does nothing but make it a marketing gimmick with an awful name.

  16. Anonymous4:41 pm

    SGK did something similar a couple of years ago when they partnered with a snack chip brand for Breast Cancer Awareness Month (which is in September). Each chip bag had a Komen pink ribbon on it, and on the back of the bag was the FINE PRINT saying that only the first XXX number of bags sold would produce a donation to SGK. They were still selling bags with pink ribbons on them the following APRIL!!

    What I hate about all this (and it was especially so in the example above) is that corporations are quite simply exploiting the good will of consumers for the sake of increasing their own profit. I remember getting into a heated argument with my stepfather about the chip bags still having the pink ribbon on them 6 months after Breast Cancer Awareness Month was over. He said to me "there's nothing wrong with it - the cancer foundation needs the promotion, and that's a good thing." What he bone-headedly would not acknowledge was that consumers were being hoodwinked into thinking that they were furthering the Komen cause by buying the chips. WTF!!!!

    And btw, that's probably what's gonna happen with KFC, too. Note what it says on the Komen web site:
    "KFC Restaurant operators have contributed 50 cents to Susan G. Komen for the Cure® for each Komen branded bucket purchased by the operators from April 5, 2010 - May 9, 2010. Customer purchases of KFC buckets during the promotion will not directly increase the total contribution."

    KFC pays Komen for every pink bucket purchased *BY* the operators (meaning the franchisees) during that time period. So if I am a franchisee, I would buy sh*tloads of pink buckets, and then use them to sell chicken for as long as I could before someone caught on.

    KFC is exploiting its customers and Susan G. Komen Foundation puts its head in the sand, both for the same reason: to make money.

    Although Komen is a great cause at its core, its pact with the devil that is the junk food industry calls the purity of their methods into serious question.

    Todd Jennings
    Monroe, NY

  17. J Niels2:07 am

    The Komen Foundation has a long history of partnering with unhealthy foods, as do many "health charities". I'll never forget seeing the biggest booth at the American Heart Association Walk in Dallas - the Beef Council.

    We eat animals, which makes us sick, then our charities use animals to test cures on, which is not successful and keeps us sick.

    We need to focus much more on PREVENTION. I quit donating to "health charities" like this one and started donating to charities that promote truly healthy diets, clean air and water, and other things that will actually prevent disease instead of perpetuate it.

  18. The Komen Foundation PROMOTES breast cancer, NOT a cure. Check out www.bucketsforthecause.com for more info.