In Fixing Potholes, KFC Thinks Outside The Box

KFC has agreed to fill 350 potholes in Louisville, Ky., and in exchange it will be allowed to stamp them with a chalk stencil that reads, "Re-freshed by KFC." Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson says KFC's $3,000 will fix 350 potholes in the city.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

From Louisville, Kentucky, comes news of an unlikely partnership: KFC, the company formerly known as Kentucky Fried Chicken, and the potholes of Louisville. In one of the more creative cases of naming rights that we've ever heard of, KFC will fill the potholes and brand the fillings with its logo. So you'll drive over some erstwhile holes in the road there that now will advertise fried chicken.

Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson is on the line with us. Did you put this job out for bid, or did KFC come to you?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mayor JERRY ABRAMSON (Louisville, Kentucky): You know, obviously cities are struggling all over America, and you do what you can. We're so fortunate to have such an outstanding corporate citizen in this community, and they came to me and said we're focusing on trying to help. What would $3,000 do for you, and I said it would be about 350 potholes.

SIEGEL: How much money did they say?

Mayor ABRAMSON: Three-thousand dollars.

SIEGEL: Three-thousand dollars.

Mayor ABRAMSON: That gave us 350 potholes that we could fill without asking for the 11 herbs and spices…

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mayor ABRAMSON: …or any of the specifics of that type. And so I said heck yeah. Count me in. So we went out, and the Colonel - at least he looked like the Colonel, all dressed in white - he didn't get anywhere near the asphalt.

SIEGEL: There's been a lot of that going around, yes.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mayor ABRAMSON: We tamped down some asphalt together, and there we go.

SIEGEL: How many potholes are there in all of Louisville?

Mayor ABRAMSON: Well, let me just say there's more than 350.

SIEGEL: More than…

Mayor ABRAMSON: Well, you're talking about a city that's the 16th largest city in the United States, but 350 potholes being filled by an outstanding corporate partner is just great.

SIEGEL: You know, it doesn't seem the most natural fit in the world.

Mayor ABRAMSON: You think?

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIEGEL: Fast food and potholes, just doesn't seem…

Mayor ABRAMSON: Well, we were looking at it from the fresh and refresh point of view. You know, you've got to work with me on this, Robert.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mayor ABRAMSON: I mean, you've got - so we're refreshing the streets, and their food is fresh, and therefore whatever it takes to fill 350 potholes, we're ready to play.

SIEGEL: Now, could other, smaller businesses in Louisville underwrite a couple of potholes near them? Say, could they pick their own pothole and have their logo there?

Mayor ABRAMSON: I think once the word gets out, there's no telling how many people will line up to have their own potholes. I can remember, a gazillion years ago, when William Donald Schaefer was mayor of Baltimore. He sold potholes for Valentine's Day, and you could fill a pothole and put a little heart and say, you know, Jerry loves Madeline(ph) - that happens to be my wife - on the pothole, and that was a great idea, and that sort of came and went.

Now we're moving on to a more commercial setting.

SIEGEL: What do we figure will be the lifespan of the logo in a pothole? That is, how many times do you drive over a commercial logo on a pothole before it is effectively rubbed out?

Mayor ABRAMSON: I would say based on the type of spray paint they're using, I'd give it a week, maybe two.

SIEGEL: A week or so. So this is a replenishable market that you have here.

Mayor ABRAMSON: Well, replenishable to the extent that if they had $3,000 more, we could do 350 more potholes.

SIEGEL: Well good luck. I'm just curious. After potholes, what was the next item on your list that you might have offered KFC to spend $3,000 on?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mayor ABRAMSON: That's a very good question. Remember, they came to me. So I really didn't have a list, but I'm sure I could find something.

SIEGEL: Well, Mayor Jerry Abramson of Louisville, a city soon to have its, some of its potholes named for KFC, thanks a lot for talking with us.

Mayor ABRAMSON: You bet. Great talking to you.

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