It never fails to stir up emotions, particularly in October (e.g., National Breast Cancer Awareness Month).

It is represented by a simple image, illustrating a pretty-in-pink bucket of grilled chicken.

It describes a marketing campaign that raised 50 cents per bucket and ultimately delivered $4.2 million to date to fight breast cancer.

And yet blood pressure always seems to rise and passions start flowing. Is this a case of no good-deed going unpunished, or something much deeper?

One person’s CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) is another person’s “Pinkwashing.”

kfc

In one corner is for profit Yum Brand’s KFC Division (once known as “Kentucky Fried Chicken”) on the other is non-profit Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Or maybe they are not in separate corners, but instead joined at the hip?

For present-and-future PR practitioners, I have seen this debate played out several times in the last two-plus years, and there is nothing even remotely approaching consensus on this ethical issue.

Reportedly, Susan G. Komen is the largest non-profit source for breast cancer research and advocacy. Susan G. Komen touts 240 corporate donors, and KFC is just one of these donors. And yet the knives are out for KFC primarily, and also for Susan G. Komen for signing off on KFC’s marketing campaign in order to raise millions to fight breast cancer.

To some encouraging patrons to consume grilled chicken breasts to save female breasts is too much of a mental metaphor to process. Fatty chicken contributes to breast cancer, so doesn’t the KFC/Komen alliance constitute shameless hypocrisy? That question has been asked repeatedly.

As a consuming public, we have been demanding that “Big Food” take action to notify us of the calorie count in its fast-food offerings and to offer healthier choices. As Martha Stewart would say, “It’s a good thing.”

As Almost DailyBrett reported, publicly traded companies (e.g., $13.5 billion NYSE: YUM) have a fiduciary obligation to promote profitability for their shareholders, many of whom are future retirees or parents with kids approaching college, investing in mutual funds and individual stocks.

At the same time, we are asking these corporations to give back to the communities they serve and take action to protect the environment through Corporate Social Responsibility. Yum Brands would naturally contend that its grilled chicken is a healthier consumer choice, and that it has raised more than $4 million to fight breast cancer. Isn’t this a case of both fiduciary responsibility and CSR? Would it be better for KFC to just offer original recipe or extra crispy to go along with the fat-laden side dishes and not give a dime to Susan G. Komen or any other non-profit?

When it comes to vilification, Susan G. Komen has been the subject of rhetorical broadsides even though it has invested nearly $2 billion for breast cancer research, education and advocacy. The largest single donation? $4.2 million from…KFC. At times, Komen has demonstrated a PR tin ear (gun-toting Smith & Wesson donation; Planned Parenthood debacle), but overall the foundation has been one of the leaders of the charge against breast cancer.

Shouldn’t we be celebrating corporate entities practicing CSR and helping non-profits? Or do some of us detest corporations so deeply and by extension, capitalism, that they would prefer for corporations to not offer and promote healthier choices, and give nothing back to our communities?

From this humble perspective, we instinctively know that life is not perfect and certainly not fair. Having said that, shouldn’t we be encouraging all to do good things, regardless of how large or how small (e.g., “Random acts of kindness”)? Isn’t the key to move the dial from an ethical and societal standpoint upwards and to the right? Shouldn’t we all have good intentions?

Or was mumsy right, when she reminded me: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

http://blogs.courier-journal.com/derbycitycents/2012/10/07/yum-brands-david-novak-on-buckets-for-the-cure-criticism/

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Wellness/kfc-fights-breast-cancer-fried-chicken/story?id=10458830

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/04/30/AR2010043001971.html

http://finance.yahoo.com/q/pr?s=YUM+Profile

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/12/13/fiduciary-responsibility-vs-corporate-social-responsibility/

http://ww5.komen.org/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Susan_G._Komen_for_the_Cure

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_road_to_hell_is_paved_with_good_intentions

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