Well known rapper Curtis Jackson, aka “50 Cent,” is promoting a new energy drink called “Street King.” “G-Unit” (short for “Guerilla Unit,” is the nom de guerre of Jackson’s hiphop group. Street King’s marketing campaign sets 50 Cents’ caffeinated, vitamin B-laced shot apart from other popular energy drinks such as 5 Hour Energy by claiming to give money to feed the world’s starving children. I have questions about philanthropic claims being made by Street King which involve a relationship between Street King and the World Food Program.
Street King product packaging claims:
“Every energy shot sold provides a meal to a hungry child in partnership with the world’s leading charities. Details at streetking.com/giveback.”
Street King website claims:
“GIVE BACK Every energy shot sold provides a meal to a hungry child through the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). To date we have funded over 3.5 million meals through WFP.”
According to the 2010 WFP annual report, the price of a meal is approximately 24 cents, as extrapolated from the following sentence: “Yum! and its brands have contributed nearly $85 million —or 350 million meals.”
However, an article describing Street King’s relationship with WFP, which cites a WFP spokesperson as a source states: “One ‘meal’ actually means a 10 cent donation to the WFP,” and “The formula of 1 energy drink = 1 meal = a 10 cent donation to the WFP.”
My Questions About Street King Energy Shots:
(1) What is the amount of money (a dollar amount) that SK has agreed to donate to WFP from each Street King energy shot sold?
(2) What is the cost to WFP of delivering one meal? – i.e. 25 cents
(3) What is the approximate cost of the meals Street King has funded, and what did those meals consist of? – i.e. a cup of rice/10 cents.
(4) Where and to whom have meals that Street King funded been distributed?
(5) Is Street King’s commitment specific to a “campaign” limited by specific start and end dates, or is it an open-ended commitment- in other words, has SK committed to giving funds indefinitely, or through a specific time period that has been agreed upon?
(6) Did Street King or its founder make an initial contribution to WFP to fund 3.5 million meals, or did the funding for 3.5 million meals come over time from sales of Street King energy shots?
(7) How much money has Street King given to WFP to date?
This is what Molly Slotznick, Public Information Officer, UN World Food Programme (molly.slotznick @wfp.org) had to say:
“Thank you for your inquiry about the relationship between World Food Programme (WFP) and Street King LLC (Street King). WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian organization addressing hunger worldwide and we periodically work with organizations such as Street King, who are committed to supporting WFP’s mission of eradicating hunger and poverty amongst the poorest and most food-insecure populations. WFP is entirely funded through voluntary contributions so the continued support of private sector partners such as Street King is very important.
Street King has agreed to donate funds to WFP for each Street King Energy Shot sold during the campaign, as a contribution to support WFP operations. To date, Street King has provided funds to WFP for over 3,500,000 meals.
By providing funding and public visibility, Street King promotes greater awareness of WFP activities and provides much-needed support to our organization. Through our continued alliance with donors such as Street King, WFP is able to reach an increasing number of people in need. Thank you again for writing and we ask you to continue supporting WFP.”
- Ms. Slotznick’s response is a nice puff piece about WFP, but was it responsive to my questions? She did confirm that Street King has provided funds for over 3.5 million meals, but the rest of my questions remain unanswered. As of now, I cannot seem to get a straight answer out of WFP regarding the exact amount of money Street King has agreed to donate to WFP from each Street King energy shot sold.
- I called Kristina Oliver back. When we spoke on the phone, she literally laughed at my request and flatly refused to answer any of my questions, claiming that the answers to these questions are “confidential,” and that these are the types of things that would come out in discovery in formal litigation. She did say “We give one meal for every energy shot sold.” I asked if there is a 1 to 1 relationship between energy shots sold and meals provided and she said: “Yes, it is a 1 to 1 relationship.”
- I find it very interesting that neither the World Food Program, nor Street King, were hesitant to answer even the most basic questions about the details of the “give back.” I guess we’ll have to take their word for it.
Starting in December, 2012, I have noticed that Street King’s advertisements are now prominently affixed to many of the trash receptacles in downtown Boston and the back bay.