National UNICEF Day

October 31 is National UNICEF Day (oh, and Hallowe’en, too). For years, UNICEF has run Hallowe’en campaigns where trick-or-treating kids also to collect spare change to fund their work, which includes education, emergencies, health, HIV/AIDS, early childhood development, child protection and malaria.  All good things, if you ask me.

They recently made a deal with Cadbury (a division of Kraft Foods). In return for allowing Cadbury to use their logo, UNICEF Canada gets $500,000 over three years towards building schools, and the marketing and exposure that comes from Cadbury’s prominence.  They are being criticized for ‘selling out’ and endorsing Cadbury products which are clearly unhealthy for Canadian children, but they are holding their ground on this decision.

Dear Kraft Foods,

You are misleading Canadian consumers with your latest attempt at ‘corporate social responsibility’.  You acquired Cadbury Canada on February 2, 2010 for $19.6 million and now Cadbury products come emblazoned with the UNICEF Canada logo and the promise that “just by purchasing this product you are helping to give children in Africa a chance at a better life.”

Sadly, that’s not even true.  The deal you have with UNICEF Canada is $500,000 and some marketing over three years – so it doesn’t matter whether your products are purchased or not. Secondly, $500,000 is really not that much money compared to the $13.7 billion in net revenue from confectionery you reported in 2009, or the $48.1 billion in total net revenue reported the same year. I don’t pretend to know how much $48.1 billion really is, but it seems to me that one could say $500,000 is ‘spare change’ when you are working with that kind of revenue.

While the Globe and Mail reported that the Lancet (one of the world’s leading medical journals) has decided to put blame on UNICEF Canada (no doubt they share some responsibility), you, Kraft Foods, should also be criticized for your weak attempt at corporate social responsibility, your misleading advertising and taking advantage of the charitable mandate of UNICEF Canada to help your bottom line.

Kraft Foods, you can be sure that this Hallowe’en, and in the Hallowe’ens to come, and any other time I am purchasing candy, I will be sure to avoid your products.

Yours truly,

S.

*What do you think? Who should be criticized for this decision?

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