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. 

  • Three years ago the Golden Gate Bridge District played with the idea of corporate sponsorship of the bridge. There’s also been talk in other locations of advertising on bike lanes. Any bike share scheme in SF involves corporate sponsorship as well.

  • I agree. How hard do you think they would fight a proposal to raise their municipal taxes by $3,000 each year to obviate the need for them to fill the potholes themselves?

  • doublegin

    Let em pave over all the potholes they want. Their logo will be spray-painted over by neighborhood residents within 24 hours anyway.

  • Alton

    I heard about that on NPR the other day. The paint will wear out very quickly actually… within a couple of months I believe. At least it’s not permanent.

  • Perhaps a joint venture between Clorox and KFC that combines solutions to our problems of potholes and burning porta potties…

    -marc

  • Pat

    This is nothing but good. A street made ugly by spray paint is better than a street made ugly AND dangerous by potholes. Like some others said, the pothole fill will last a lot longer than the spray paint. It is true that advertising can get a bit overwhelming, but this seems pretty benign

  • SO lemme get this straight, in order for us to do colored bike lanes, we have to go through a rigmarole of supplication to state highway gurus for permission, but if Kentucky Fried Rat wants to spray paint their logos on the ROW, then there’s no problemo?

    -marc

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