Published on February 2nd, 2012 | by Kim LaCapria0
Komen Debacle Excellent Study on How Social Media Can Destroy Your Brand in 12 Hours
There is little chance that you’ve yet to hear about the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s catastrophic decision to defund Planned Parenthood and the effect it has had on both organizations.
While separately it’s totally an exercise in knowing your base, the situation is also another case for all the social media texts that have not yet been written. While public opinion overwhelmingly disfavored the Komen Foundation’s politics-driven move to deprive the clinics of funding for services relating to breast cancer screening and treatment, the charity really allowed the situation to spiral out of control when push came to shove- perhaps because of there was no plausible way to explain away the controversy, but nonetheless, the silence became damning by the hour. (And the ill-timed decision to announce support from battery maker Energizer inadvertently caused a boycott of that company as well, indicating lack of understanding of the scope of the problem at the very least, not to mention failure to anticipate real fiscal damage to a company that supported Komen.)
It’s difficult to see how Komen can ever turn this debacle around, given the intense outpouring of ill-will. A site devoted to non-profit marketing has a great teardown here, noting that acting as if nothing happened is pissing off users to a far greater degree:
Yet it appears that Komen wants to desperately pretend that this decision is being made in some completely different context. By not responding at all to the overwhelming negativity being thrown their way, and continuing to pretend that this has nothing to do with a red-hot social issue, they are alienating a big part of their constituency.
It seems like they are hoping this will just blow over. It won’t. This isn’t Komen’s first branding debacle: See the Kentucky Fried Chicken incident and suing smaller charities for using “for the cure” but I’d say it’s the biggest one yet.
Indeed, it seems if the charity that has made the breast cancer support = pink connection so ubiquitous seeks to survive in any form, the policy would have to be aggressively and vocally reversed- perhaps with a name change in order as well. And Planned Parenthood? Not only have they made up all of the shortfall that would have accrued over the year if Komen continued to keep its money out- funds that will now go to all services, including abortion and totally invalidating the decision in the first place- the embattled organization has managed to use the controversy to show millions of women how under attack reproductive services are and highlighted the issue on a major scale.
Have you monitored the Susan G. Kamen/Planned Parenthood blow up on social media, and do you think that the charity mishandled the massive backlash? Have you donated to Planned Parenthood directly since the outcry began?