Jim Hightower

Pothole Advertising

Just when you think the corporate branding of public spaces can’t get any more crass, along comes KFC Corp., the fried chicken chain.

Drive through the streets of just about any American city, and you’ll find schools, museums, parks, stadiums, and all sorts of other public facilities plastered with corporate names, ads, and logos. That’s bad enough, but now KFC is putting its ads on the streets themselves.

In a gimmick cooked up with city officials in Louisville, Kentucky, the chicken chain is paying to fill in some of the potholes. In return, the corporation gets to stencil a gaudy ad on each pothole, declaring it “Re-freshed by KFC.” 

Believe it or not, KFC actually insists that it is filling the streets with ads out of a sense of civic duty. It is more self-puffery than public service. While noting that more than 350 million potholes riddle America’s streets, KFC donated a mere $3,000 to Louisville.

Meanwhile, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which frequently rattles KFC’s cage over its mistreatment of the birds that produce the corporation’s profits, made its own offer. The devilish pranksters put up $6,000-double KFC’s payment-to fill twice as many potholes, in exchange for a PETA ad atop each one.

Apparently, not all citizens are equal in Louisville. The mayor, who had praised KFC for creating “innovative public/private partnerships like this pothole refresh program,” turned chicken when PETA presented its own pothole partnership. “No,” he clucked.

Pay attention, folks-your town could be the next one plastered by KFC. The company says it is looking for four other “lucky cities” to accept its pothole ads.

For more information on Jim Hightower’s work-and to subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown-visit www.jimhightower.com.

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Published at 12:00 am CST