When a company promotes pink-ribboned products and claims to care about breast cancer while also selling products linked to disease or injury, it's called pinkwashing, and it's has taken some pretty outrageous forms in the last few years. Ford, Mercedes and BMW have all urged people to buy and drive cars in the name of breast cancer, but exhaust from internal combustion engines contains toxic chemicals linked to disease. The Yoplait yogurt company sold pink-lidded yogurt to raise money for breast cancer, while manufacturing products with milk from cows stimulated by the artificial hormone RBGH, which studies show increases the risk of breast cancer. (Some yogurt companies, including Yoplait, have stopped using RGBH.) There's even a breast cancer awareness gun, and we thought that took the cake.
"Buckets for the Cure"
Now KFC is offering a new example of pinkwashing: selling pink buckets of fried chicken to "end breast cancer forever." In an ironic twist, KFC's "Buckets for the Cure" campaign urges people to buy buckets of unhealthy food to help cure a disease that kills women. The American Institute for Cancer Research says there is "convincing evidence" that excess body fat increases the risk of postmenopausal breast cancer. Obesity is also tied to shorter survival rates for women who develop breast cancer. Like most fast food chains, KFC has an overwhelming presence in communities known to have poor health outcomes, and the Susan G. Komen Foundation certainly must know that such social inequities effect breast cancer mortality rates. Given all this, "Buckets for the Cure" is a particularly disturbing pinkwashing partnership.
Cause Marketing Strikes Again
KFC's new "Double Down"Companies team up with non-profits to engage in these kids of feel-good "cause marketing" campaigns to enhance public perception of their company and brands while also boosting sales. Given its timing, KFC may also be using the "Buckets for the Cure" campaign to offset the introduction of its amazing "Double Down," a deep-fried sandwich consisting of two pieces of fried chicken breast wrapped around cheese and bacon strips. The "original recipe" version of KFC's Double Down contains 32 grams of fat and 1,380 milligrams of sodium. A feel-good, anti-cancer campaign could be just the ticket to take attention away from this contribution to the obesity epidemic. KFC has also been struggling of late against other fast food outlets to keep its market share.
For every pink, five-dollar bucket of chicken it sells, KFC promises they will donate 50 cents to fight breast cancer. Imagine how much more good it could do if people skipped the fried chicken (or other pinked gimmick) and gave the entire amount they would have spent on it directly to breast cancer research.