The Corner

Take a Stand Against Kraft’s Thoughtless Contest

Kraft, the world’s second-largest food company, has just reported robust growth and strong second-quarter revenues. But Kraft is also known for giving back: “Over the past 25 years, we’ve donated a billion dollars in cash and food,” the company website proclaims. Now it’s contributing once again — this time, to family dissolution.

The company’s “Not For Every Relationship” contest, which runs until August 23, invites couples to post videos on YouTube on the subject “How Has Miracle Whip Affected Your Relationship?” Kraft will award the $25,000 grand prize to the winning couple, for them to use toward a marriage — or a divorce.

“Miracle Whip is a polarizing product,” says Sara Braun, director of the brand. “We’re trying to own up to this fact. It gives us license to play with the logical idea that a condiment could make or break a relationship.” Kraft’s observation is right on the money: With no-fault divorce the law of the land in all 50 states, it’s absolutely true that a couple can dissolve their marriage over something as insignificant as a condiment.

Braun said the company merely wants people to have “fun,” and points out that the only “divorce” video submitted so far is humorous. And with approximately half of first marriages ending in divorce, divorce is as American as, well, pulling an Oreo cookie apart and eating the filling first.

Yet Kraft’s prize money is real. So try telling the 1 million new children each year who have to shuttle between two homes on alternate weekends that Kraft’s 25 G’s are all in good fun. Tell it to the millions of spouses whose lives have been ripped apart by unilateral divorces, often without cause. How about the mothers thrust into poverty by divorce? Some of them are paying for Kraft macaroni & cheese with food stamps at the supermarket checkout. Are they smiling? How about their daughters, whose odds of teen pregnancy increase with divorce?

“We know divorce is a serious issue,” Braun admitted, saying the divorce angle was just a way for Miracle Whip to be true to the “bold and extreme tone” of its campaign, which hopes to entice the younger-adult demographic to its products.

But Janice Shaw Crouse sees things differently. “When corporations ignore the mountain of social-science data that divorce is harmful especially to women and children, they contribute to the damage that children suffer into adulthood, to the disintegration of neighborhoods, communities and, ultimately, the nation,” says Crouse, who is senior fellow at Concerned Women for America. “How irresponsible of Kraft to promote divorce when so many women’s hopes have been stolen away by divorce.”

“Kraft as a whole is a family-products-focused company,” Braun agreed. And its website confirms that Kraft products have fed families since the 1700s. I remember my own grandmother serving me Jell-O with milk, and my mother smearing Miracle Whip on tomato sandwiches. My first “lemonade” stand sold Kool-Aid; my children poured Country Time. Like millions of other families, my family’s Kraft allegiance spanned generations.

“Offering a prize to fund divorce is neither smart marketing nor good policy-making,” says Chuck Donovan, senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation. “It ignores real pain in our families and communities. How about offering the $25,000 prize instead to any couple embarked on a divorce that needs resources to rebuild their marriage and their lives?”

Braun told me that contest rules permit prize money to be used for a divorce-related activity, so Miracle Whip would be “open” to such use.

There’s no apparent malice in Kraft’s campaign, but it’s terribly unthinking. With its resources and influence, Kraft could easily have used this opportunity to make a powerful difference for social good by standing up for the idea that trivialities, including family disagreements over sandwich spreads, should never split families apart. That really would have been “bold.”

Please consider joining me in petitioning to oppose Kraft’s contest. Send a message that the anguishing consequences of family disintegration are no laughing matter.

Beverly Willett is vice chair of the Coalition for Divorce Reform.

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