Ad Nauseam: Kentucky Fried Potholes

Picture_7.pngNot so Good Frickin' Chickin'
In casting around for a good April Fool's Day joke, I found yesterday's New York Times Lede blog report on the chicken frying corporation KFC doing some pothole repair in Louisville, complete with this photo of Colonel Sanders in a hardhat and construction bib.  I thought for sure the Times had gotten an eight-hour jump on the April Fool's fun, but amazingly this report seems to be true.  Or they're holding out on a Joaquin-Phoenix-length punchline and haven't broken it to readers that this is preposterous.  The PETA subtext in the Times story is pretty funny, but I find this all a bit unsettling.

As KFC's press release from March 25th notes, the company gave Louisville $3,000 to fill the potholes on the condition that they could stencil their logo on the new asphalt.

For more than half a century, KFC has "filled up" its fans with the Colonel's world famous, freshly prepared fried chicken. Today, in a marketing first, KFC is celebrating its continued dedication to freshness by launching a pilot infrastructure renewal program, becoming the first-ever corporate sponsor of freshly filled up potholes in up to five major cities across the U.S.

Barf.  I know a lot of San Francisco streets are in a pretty awful way, but I pray Mayor Newsom has not taken the Colonel up on his offer to fix our potholes.  Can you imagine the new Mission Street Freshly-Filled by KFC?

The daily bombardment of advertising clutter we consume is already staggering, but now we've got sponsored pothole repair.  Do the admen think they're going to get any value out of the actual advertisements, or is this more of a Romain Mesnil (PG-13, maybe NSFW) stunt to get the attention of befuddled bloggers like this one? 

I imagine it would be pretty hard to see what's stenciled on the pothole from behind the wheel of a car, except by craning out the side window.  And we need more distracted drivers like we need a hole in the road.  Cyclists will certainly see the ads, as we look down at the streets for surface hazards, but I don't know how many of us would then crave fried chicken and reconstituted mashed potatoes.

"This program is a perfect example of that rare and optimal occurrence when a company can creatively market itself and help local governments and everyday Americans across the country," said Javier Benito, executive vice president of marketing and food innovation for KFC.  "Everyone could use a little help during these tough economic times and this initiative, like our commitment to provide affordable, freshly prepared chicken, is our way of carrying on Colonel Sanders' legacy."

It's weird to see us socializing private enterprises, like banks and car companies, at the same time we privatize infrastructure, like our roads and parking spaces.

I'm wondering what you smart Streetsblog readers opine about this development?  This strikes me as one of those awful ideas, like Pepsi sponsoring the Mir Space Station, that should crawl back down the dark hole whence it emerged.