From the department of manufactured news, you may have noticed last week that KFC got a whole lot of mileage from its pledge to spend $3,000 to fix 350 potholes in the city. The catch was that the chicken company got to stencil an ad atop every fixed pothole.
The P.R. stunt was well worth the money. The story got picked up everywhere, and Mayor Jerry Abramson was chosen to do a three-minute interview on NPR about it. Newspapers in Chicago and Boston (how’s that for your local branding campaign) were filled with stories about the KFC program to fix Louisville potholes.
Seeing that a good thing can be duplicated, KFC’s P.R. crew launched a plan to award the same service to four other cities, and will announce those winners later this week. That’ll surely generate more cheap publicity in the cities KFC chooses. I’m guessing David Novak is busy awarding rubber chickens to his crew’s P.R. staff.
Just when you thought the story couldn’t get any more legs, along comes KFC arch-nemesis PETA with a plan to jump on the publicity bandwagon. PETA sent a letter to the Mayor today, saying it wants to pay the city $6,000 for the right to stencil the words “KFC Tortures Animals.” Here’s how the letter, from PETA exec Tracy Reiman, starts:
I am writing on behalf of PETA and our more than 2 million members and supporters–including thousands in the Louisville area–to offer the city twice the amount of money that KFC has paid to place ads for its cruelly produced products on repaired potholes if you will use our funds to stencil “Kentucky Fried Cruelty” artwork (see attached) on the potholes instead. Motorists and pedestrians should know that there is a mile-long record of cruelty to animals behind KFC’s business interests.
The Mayor’s Office, not surprisingly, would love to have another $6K for pothole repair, but spokesman Chris Poynter said it wasn’t going for PETA’s deal as is.
“If they want to put the word PETA on top of the potholes, we’d love to talk to them, but not for what they’re saying they want to do,” he said.
The images on the potholes, at least for KFC, aren’t the point. In fact, Poynter said the chalk might last less than a day and the corporation did not, in fact, put the chalk message on every pothole. It was simply a very successful public relations stunt.
PETA’s attempt to capitalize on it, however, won’t get the same treatment.