Pink Buckets | Big Win or Big Fail

by Ellie Johnson on May 17, 2010

in Just Sayin'

I’m a lover of advertising (that is done well) and a marketer who envies the creative types who get to camp out in a board room drinking kegs of caffeine or cram into cubes together all night long sniffing Sharpies and mood boarding with post it notes until they come up with a concept – or a message – or a jingle – that is certain to be a game changer.  I want to be a part of that kind of creative process!  When those folks get it right – they can make you and I feel that we must buy something that we’ve never found a use for before – or wear a fashion statement that says something they want us to say – or drink something that will surely save the planet one day.

But all that coffee and marker-sniffing can lead to some really, really bad ideas, too.   I give you Buckets For The Cure.

Here’s how I weighed this out in my head after I was able to calm down and think clearly and I would love to read your thoughts on this campaign, also:


Komen is going to raise a lot of money.

  • 50 cents of every bucket “ordered by restaurant operators” (not buckets you and I buy?) will go to Komen.
  • Komen gets $1M and KFC is trying to raise $8M in total.

Komen will get a lot of exposure and arguably, this exposure will target women who can benefit from education about breast health and taking care of themselv….

Oh I just can’t go on… I can’t even take my own self writing this seriously…. WHAT WERE THEY THINKING!?  This is the most ridiculous pairing.   How, in good-conscious could the Koman Foundation decide that KFC would be a good partnership for their brand?  I get it that some in the board room must have been on the side for money and exposure but their brand is about health and women taking care of themselves and living longer as a result.  KFC is not about any of those things and actually, their product is linked to the opposite of living healthier and longer.

And no, Guy-on-Twitter that wrote something like, “Chicken causes breast cancer? News to me” – KFC is not linked to breast cancer.  Go grab yourself a bucket and feel good about that fact.

For the rest of us, as marketers – what do you think?  In this case, in my opinion – Komen jeopardized their brand authority and their foundation’s purpose with an ill-planned partnership.  Additionally, it stains their platform of fundraising for a noble cause because it reeks of greed when the partnership just doesn’t make sense to the public.

Side note: the website is beautiful and I think they did a fantastic job with the types of content, the social tools and the interactivity.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Michael Hubbard Michael Hubbard May 17, 2010 at 5:08 pm

I looked at it as another step in the right direction for KFC trying to rebrand themselves… Yes, my kids eat the popcorn chicken that is horrible for them – but they love it, and they exercise enough that rewarding them with it once in a while for dinner isn’t such a bad thing. But my wife and I don’t have the luxury of getting to exercise 24/7, so we try and make more health-conscience decisions.

Well – last year, KFC released their grilled chicken, and I know they now have low calorie meals (aka – smaller portions), so to me, I see it as another sign that they realize not everyone can handle everything they eat being fried. The Komen Foundation does a lot of good, which is not in dispute… Maybe there’s more to it than that – but it seems like KFC is making a major brand shift much the way Subway day years back… Or maybe it’s just a scam – I’m not sure – but very interested to hear what others thought of because I never thought of it in the light you’ve presented…

P.S. Anyone from KFC let us know how that works – is it the operator taking the risk? I ordered last week, and got a Pink bucket without asking (which was cool), but wondering if they sell more, do they order more – or how does it come back so that the consumer can make a difference?


Ellie May 18, 2010 at 9:31 am

I would be interested to hear what others say about what this partnership does for KFC. Personally, I can’t get past the hypocrisy of their brand being even in the same sentence as the words “more health conscious”. This is the food chain that brought us the DoubleDown – 32 grams of fat fried or 23 grams if it’s grilled and don’t ask about sodium or calories in either case. And while their menu is not the point of my post – their menu is their brand and their product and therefore, KFC does not make sense for a leading health-conscious brand like Komen.

Rather, KFC’s menu is synonymous with heart disease and many more women die in this country from heart disease than breast cancer any day of the week. I see this pink push as a way to say – stop talking about obesity, heart disease and diabetes – we’re trying to raise money for breast cancer over here! And I’m still stuck on shocked over the brand jeopardy suffered by Komen.


Catherine M May 18, 2010 at 10:31 am

Interesting bed fellows. My initial reaction was similar to yours, Ellie. How could Komen partner with KFC? It seems ridiculous and it was initially hard for me to figure out why on earth Komen would agree to this partnership/campaign.

And then, I stopped and thought about it for a second. Susan G. Komen foundation has partnered with tons of big consumer brands that don’t make much more sense than the KFC arrangement. By trying to keep their foundation top of mind, the people at Komen have pursued every partnership such as this one that has come their way. At least, that’s the way it seems. This over-saturation has almost had the opposite effect – it has made the pink ribbon a bit cliche. What does it stand for, if it is placed on anything and everything. Buckets of fried chicken, M&M bags, VISA cards.

On the flip side – brilliant move by KFC. They get to deflect some of the recent criticism they’ve received for the Double Down by advertising what great corporate citizens they are. Don’t worry about what’s in our food (or where we are getting it from) – we’re raising tons of money for breast cancer research!


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