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 Los Angeles streets are in a pretty awful way, but I pray Mayor Villaraigosa has not taken the Colonel up on his offer to fix our potholes.  Can you
imagine the KFC logo dotting the "4th Street Bike Boulevard?"

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. 

(Editor’s note: Yeah, I "LA’d" that paragraph right below the pull quote.  In the original, it reads "Mayor Newsom and Market Street")