THE BLOG

Let's Help KFC Earn Its Cause Marketing Wings

06/16/2011 12:17 pm ET | Updated Aug 16, 2011

I wrote this post with Megan Strand of InCouraged.com.

Yesterday, Joe appropriately ranted that Kentucky Fried Chicken's latest "cause marketing" promotion (we cringe to even call it that) pushing mega-jugs of soda to "support" Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation was, well, chicken.

In this post, we team up and invite you to pitch in for a public brainstorm for KFC about what types of cause marketing partnerships might make more sense for the quick serve chain. Other quick serve restaurants will no doubt benefit from the discussion!

Here are a few of our ideas -- add yours in the comments below.

Go Local to Support Small Business. KFC began with the dream of a single businessman in the midst of the depression. Franchise owners could team up with local "Main Street" organizations to support or fund community events or local beautification programs. KFC would be taking a page out of its own playbook by going local. In 2009, it launched Re-Freshed by KFC, a local public works program in Louisville, Kentucky that filled unsightly potholes with fresh asphalt topped with the KFC logo.

Crowdsource an Online Competition. Again, going back to the entrepreneurial spirit of The Colonel, the brand could hold an online crowdsourced competition to award a grant to a promising entrepreneur. Local franchises could promote and fund the contest through in-store point-of-sale programming and collateral.

Support the Troops. After all, Sanders was "The Colonel" (a generous promotion considering he was a buck private in the army). It's easy to see the tie in between The Colonel and families of deployed troops. Employees could deliver food to the families of troops once a month or organize and cater "welcome home" parties in local communities. Instead of the pink buckets that made so many people see red last year, let them see the stars and stripes with buckets that are red, white and blue.

Cross-Generational Mentoring. The Colonel once testified before Congress against the mandatory retirement age, arguing that there is tremendous value in the wisdom of older workers. In this spirit, why not implement, support and/or promote a mentoring program?

The Colonel's secret flavor recipe of herbs and spices that creates the famous "finger lickin' good" chicken remains a trade secret. But the recipe to KFC's success is not. KFC must cut the cause marketing ties between its menu and health causes like cancer and diabetes. As we've shown above, there's no shortage of non-health related causes to support.

If KFC really wants to help health causes, it could learn from McDonald's and Ronald McDonald's House Charities. RMHC doesn't align itself with a particular disease or health charity. Instead, it aims to support programs that keep families together during medical treatments far from home.

If KFC is truly committed to supporting health causes and earning the wings and halo cause marketing gives serious brands, it should model its competitor that boasts not one, but two Golden Arches.

You've heard a few of our ideas -- now it's your turn! What cause marketing partnerships would make more sense for KFC? Share your ideas in the comments below.