Marion Nestle has a short roundup of “cause marketing” examples that people have sent in recently, after she posted about the KFC promotion in Utah in which buying a 64 oz. mega-jug soda (equivalent to 1/2 gallon or 2 liter!) for $2.99 resulted in a $1.00 donation to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. There was, as always, some shouting involved: points were made about juvenile diabetes (Type 1) not being directly caused by excess consumption of sugar, whereas Type 2 can be. It was also pointed out that people who are living with a disease, or their caretakers, are likely to be grateful for any money contributed to research that might help them or their family member live a better life.
I have a real problem with this kind of thing – I get quite a few posts on Facebook from friends who are supporting a cause, and, frequently, it’s the sort of promotion in which [insert major soft drink corporation] has only so much money to give away and we all need to vote for the charities or non-profits that will win. To me, that just looks like advertising, and the one time I agreed to click on something to benefit the school that a lifelong friend’s two small children attend…well, I think it took half an hour to get out of their automatic contact form. However, I am incredibly, unbelievably fortunate as far as my health is concerned, and the health of my family. Something that’s a relatively minor annoyance to me can be a major crisis for a special-needs school that relies on donations and fundraisers, or a family hoping for a new medication for their child. I understand that, and I don’t have a good solution.
However, it looks like I’m not the only person that has issues with this; from the Public Health Advocacy Institute, “Organizations that care about health should establish a policy that identifies and distinguishes between traditional business relationships, corporate philanthropy and cause-marketing and should commit to not participate in cause-marketing campaigns that promote products, such as sugary drinks, that pose a public health threat.”