Buckets for the Cure, the new Susan G. Komen/ KFC partnership has 50 cents of every bucket of the Colonel’s best going to the breast cancer organization. To date the program has raised 2.35 million dollars for Cancer research. However the fact that Komen would partner with a fast food chain to raise funds, has left many feeling betrayed that the organization would promote an arguably unhealthy lifestyle. To be fair maybe it wasn’t the money, maybe they’ve just ran out of stuff to put pink ribbons on.
Now before everyone starts bashing KFC, they are just doing what they do. I mean really, they just introduced the “Double Down” (the sandwich that has so much chicken that there is no room for the bun), and they built a logo you can see from space, so their decision matrix was in question before today. Komen however is the shining beacon of cause marketing, branding everything from yogurt to vacuum cleaners.
The interesting part of the story is the expectation that Komen wouldn’t partner with KFC, and if the possible gift of 8.5 million dollars is worth the tarnishing their brand. Komen’s goal is to cure breast cancer. To be exact it’s based on a promise to do everything in (her, or in this case the organization’s) power to end breast cancer forever; it has nothing to do with general women’s health, toothpaste, kitchen appliances, the bank you use, or the car you drive. The general disgust associated with this Buckets for the Cure highlights the amount of damage the brand has suffered.
To a nonprofit brand is everything. Its what brings volunteers to your door, lets you lobby for important legislation, and opens the checkbooks. Your brand carries with it the public facing values of your organization. People know your brand not your mission statement. In this case the brand even surpasses the mission – people have began to look at Susan G. Komen as overall women’s health, which is a very different issue than cancer research. This is a problem, it means that the mission is getting lost in all the marketing.
Has the organization finally partnered with so many groups that they have watered their brand down until it’s indistinguishable?