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November 17, 2008

P&G’s One Coupon Equals One Meal Deal Revealed

Filed under: Business,Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 7:49 am

Give a MealProcter & Gamble is advertising a “one coupon = one meal” promotion whereby the company will donate money to Feeding America for every coupon redeemed by shoppers from its November coupon insert.

Feeding America is the new name for America’s Second Harvest — a network of food banks around the country.

Checking P&G’s website, one learns the company has a “goal of donating up to 20 million meals this holiday season.”  Even if P&G was only donating $2 per meal, that would be a commitment of $40 million.  Certainly, a very generous donation to a very worthy cause.

Inside the coupon insert is a further explanation that “for every brandSaver coupon redeemed, P&G will help Feeding America provide one meal to a person in need.”  A simple graphic confirms the message:

That little spot to the right of “one meal” is an asterisk, that leads to an almost unreadable disclosure on the bottom of the page.


” *Coupon value to Feeding America equals $0.0625″

Huh? Six and a quarter cents for each coupon redeemed is what they are donating? How in the world could six and a quarter cents pay for a meal?  And what does this meal consist of — half a cup of rice?

Ross Fraser, the media relations manager for Feeding America explained. The vast majority (85%) of food that they distribute (two billion pounds a year) is donated, while they purchase fill-in items that are not usually contributed.  They have figured out (through somewhat convoluted math) when they divide the number of pounds of food they distribute by their costs of operation, it works out that they are able to donate 16 meals for every dollar they receive.

And, when you do some further math, you see that that equals 6-1/4 cents per meal — the amount that P&G is donating per coupon. Whewww.

So, if enough coupons are redeemed, the maximum contribution that P&G will be making is $1.25 million — not the tens of millions dollars you might have assumed from their advertising.

One and a quarter million dollars is still a generous contribution, and Feeding America is certainly a worthy cause. It just would have been more straight forward to say that they would donate up to $1.25 million to cover the administrative costs of delivering 20 million meals.  A P&G spokesperson said the company preferred to characterize the donation in terms of meals given rather than six and a quarter cents.  Gee, I wonder why? They also said that their contribution was not supposed to be used for overhead.  The spokesperson did not put her comments in writing despite a request to do so by Mouse Print*.

Other companies, like the makers of Duncan Hines, promote their donation to Feeding America in a more straight-forward manner, saying how much money is being given per coupon redeemed, and how much the maximum donation will be (click banner):

Duncan Hines

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  1. If 6 1/4 cents is the average cost of providing a meal, what is the issue here? The issue is in your assumption!!!

    Comment by Shawn — November 17, 2008 @ 9:52 am
  2. What is egregious about the ad is the ‘one coupon equals one meal’ image. If truth in advertising were to bear down on this promotion the graphic for the meal would represent something like a pie chart with just a minuscule sliver representing the portion of a meal the coupon actually purchases.

    It’s annoying when corporations abuse the generosity of generous souls.

    Comment by Richard B. — November 17, 2008 @ 1:13 pm
  3. Come on Shawn, you know better than that. Even prisons that are known for serving the cheapest of cheap meals is way beyond six and a quarter cents.

    What you need to ask yourself is what assumptions would the average person make looking at the picture of a kid digging into a healthy meal and the graphic image of one coupon equaling one meal. What food is on the kid’s fork is likely more than 6 cents worth of food.

    Comment by Richard B. — November 17, 2008 @ 1:20 pm
  4. Cool…so now my small business can advertise offering up to 1 million meals by simply buying a few bags of rice that contain about 1 million grains of rice and sending them to supplement the meals.

    (Anyone know how many grains of rice in a 50-pound bag?)

    “Dogopoly is helping to feed up to one million pets around the world by supplying meals(*) to those pets this Thanksgiving, for each game ordered online.”
    (*) Each contribution will be a portion supplied to supplement existing meals offered by other agencies.

    Comment by RS — November 17, 2008 @ 4:19 pm
  5. Good example, Edgar. In fact, this is the case with most ‘charitable’ donations by third parties. They advertise big time with their donation, get massive extra sales, and make more profit. In the end the charity gets less than pennies per item.

    The lesson here is: If you want to give money to a charity, do it yourself. Using third parties usually is more expensive.

    Comment by Jasper — November 18, 2008 @ 2:29 pm
  6. 20 million “meals” at 6 1/4 cents represents a donation of 1.25 million dollars. Are you going to donate $1.25 million?

    Comment by Shawn — November 19, 2008 @ 11:50 am
  7. The Horrible fact is that P&G are basically taking credit for someone else’s
    generosity. Oh normally, I do not comment on other peoples comments-but , Shawn
    you need to learn how to read and comprehend what you read.1. The average meal is
    not 6.25 cents. 2. They are not donating $1.25 million dollars they are scaming
    people to buy their product and out of that profit they take out a the pathetic amout of
    amount. If you give me $5 million dollars I be happy to donate 2.5 million.

    Comment by Hans Gruber — November 20, 2008 @ 12:22 pm
  8. One person might not give 1.25 million dollars, but if each person who purchased the product because of the donation, instead sent in $1, they would have $20 million to buy meals instead of $1.25 million.

    Comment by Chris S — November 20, 2008 @ 2:25 pm

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