A too-clever-by-half marketing team at Kraft Foods has come up with what they think is a hot seller: a contest offering a cash prize to the best YouTube video answering the question, “How has Miracle Whip Affected Your Relationship?” The winner of the contest, which runs until August 23, takes home (or to two homes, quite possibly) $25,000 to help pay for a wedding—or a divorce. Kraft officials have been stung by the criticism that has been justly leveled against the contest, which attempts to take a lighthearted and evenhanded stance of neutrality between marriage and divorce.
While divorce rates are thankfully not rising in the United States, divorce does extensive harm, some of which is masked by rising rates of cohabitation (with and without children present), where marriages do not occur in the first place. As data assembled by The Heritage Foundation at familyfacts.org shows, the U.S. divorce rate has declined from its peak in 1980 but remains high. Every year an estimated 1 million children undergo a family divorce, and evidence of the negative impacts on those children continues to accumulate. Can you picture beaming officials from the world’s second-largest food company handing out a prize to a downcast family while the kids gaze at the camera and ponder their uncertain future?
With all 50 states having now adopted unilateral, or no-fault, divorce laws, it is tempting to think that the law has evolved once and for all, and no reconsideration is warranted. But states can and should consider ways to encourage couples to work to save a struggling marriage, especially in light of new research revealing how many divorced couples later wish they had done more to preserve their unions. Reform ideas along these lines are cropping up in state legislatures. They offer the prospects not only of benefit for the families directly involved but of real savings to taxpayers, who also pay a price in the aftermath of family breakups.
If Kraft Foods wants to demonstrate the good things its products can promote, why not offer $25,000 to a troubled couple to pay for counseling and support to keep their marriage together? Call it a “mayo clinic” for marriage preservation. If you agree, click here to let Kraft officials know there’s a better way to use their formidable marketing resources.