KFC Offers to Fill Up the Nation’s … Potholes

Kentucky Fried Chicken today announced its own urban renewal program. The chicken chain has offered to fill up the potholes in five major U.S. cities to promote its “fresh” brand positioning.

Giving back has become a trend
for marketers, including Starbucks, Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes and others that have centered their message around helping the community.

KFC sent a letter to U.S. mayors today asking them to nominate their cities’ roads to be refreshed. Every pothole filled by the fast feeder will be covered in nonpermanent street chalk with the words “Re-freshed by KFC.”

Jason Vargas of the experiential marketing agency Marketing Werks applauded the effort: “That’s street marketing at its finest. It’s a cool way of breaking through the clutter and building buzz.”

The guerilla/community service effort touts the fact that the chain uses only fresh chicken shipped in weekly. The chain’s head marketer Javier Benito, said in a statement, that this 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.”

The chain estimates there are roughly 350 million potholes in the U.S. It  kicked off the effort in its hometown of Louisville, Ky. ,today.

Not everyone is enthused about the publicity stunt. “There is an aggressiveness towards moving into new dimensions of public spaces. This would be another example of this unfortunate incursion of advertising messaging into [consumers’ lives],” said Robert Weissman, director of Commercial Alert. “KFC should fix their menu first.”

KFC’s 2008 U.S. sales were off about 1% at an estimated 5.1 billion, per Technomic, Chicago. It spent $291 million on U.S. media last year, excluding online, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.