Sunday, March 29, 2009

Burma Shave

There's nothing new under the road that meets the rubber:
Don't be surprised if you see Col. Sanders out filling potholes. In an unusual cause-marketing push, KFC is tackling the pothole problem in Louisville, Ky. in exchange for stamping the fresh pavement with "Re-freshed by KFC," a chalky stencil likely to fade away in the next downpour.

"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, exec VP-marketing and food innovation at KFC.

Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson noted in a statement that budgets are tight for cities across the country, and finding funding for road repairs is a dirty job. "It's great to have a concerned corporation like KFC create innovative private/public partnerships like this pothole refresh program."

The KFC program appears to be part of a growing body of consumer-service marketing that connects in a meaningful way. This past holiday season, Charmin provided a public restroom in Times Square for the third year running. The company has also developed anapplication for iPhone and BlackBerry that helps consumers find toilets when the need arises.Samsung has installed electrical charging stations in many major airports to help travelers stay connected while in limbo.

Perhaps most importantly, while KFC seems more suited to pot pies than potholes and efforts like these are unlikely to sell chicken sandwiches in the short term, the company is likely to build a reservoir of goodwill among the general population -- particularly when they arrive at the pothole they've gotten used to swerving around.

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