Many Americans have to get their healthcare from GoFundMe, do they now have to get their roads repaired in exchange for advertising?
It sounds as much like an extract from a dystopian novel as it does an article in The Onion but Domino’s Pizza has started to invest in infrastructure. The premise of it all is very simple. ‘Paving For Pizza’ is a viral marketing movement where pizza-lovers can nominate towns and cities which are most in need of road repair. Then, Domino’s will pay for a team to repair the damaged roadways complete with a company logo and catchy slogan.
“Potholes, cracks, and bumps in the road can cause irreversible damage to your pizza during the drive home from Domino’s so we’re helping to pave in towns across the country to save your good pizza from these bad roads.” says the official ‘Paving For Pizza’ website.
The campaign was launched with a couple of videos on the company’s YouTube channel which provided an in-box glimpse into what a pizza can go through on a particularly arduous journey along a bumpy road. It comes less than a year after Domino’s launched Carryout Insurance to protect pies from being damaged in transit.
“Domino’s is a brand that is relentless in its pursuit of making everything about the pizza experience better, from how it’s made to how it’s ordered and delivered,” says Kelly McCormick, creative director of the Colorado-based firm CP+B which launched the campaign.
“We know that the carryout experience includes everything from ordering to getting the pizza home in perfect condition. So, we decided to go where no other pizza company would go.”
That’s certainly accurate and for some areas of the country, this will be much needed. It won’t surprise road users but America has a pothole problem. Way back in 2015, former Transportation Secretary in the Obama Administration, Ray LaHood claimed that America has just become “one big pothole” and very little has changed since.
Recent studies by the National Transportation Research Group found that 37% of America’s major roads are in poor or mediocre condition and it all comes at a cost to road users. The damage totals $107 billion – just shy of $500 per driver – with the majority of that sum going on vehicle repair.
That’s a lot of money at a time when many families are feeling the strain of the widening wealth gap. There are over 45 million Americans in poverty but, according to research by Betway, there are now 15 times as many billionaires as there were 30 years ago. It’s hardly a secret that this wealth isn’t being sufficiently taxed when Amazon paid zero federal income tax last year despite earning over $5.6 billion according to Politifact. Even the CEO of Domino’s Pizza has admitted that the recent federal tax cuts by the Trump Administration will directly help his and other large businesses.
The strain can often fall on local government which is why some have turned to Domino’s for assistance. Eric Norenberg is the city manager of Milford, Delaware, one of the four towns where Domino’s have so far piloted the scheme and wrote his reasoning behind the decision in The Washington Post.
Just two years ago, over half of Milford’s streets were rated as fair, poor, very poor or in serious condition and in a low-tax town, things are difficult. Norenberg wrote that his experience with Domino’s was relatively straightforward. The pizza giants paid $5,000 for some before and after pictures of the road repair complete with the Domino’s logo in spray chalk. That money paid for two weeks’ worth of work and fixed around a quarter of the town’s potholes.
“My job, as a professional local-government manager, is to identify the best ways to provide city services in an equitable manner – and then to bring those recommendations to our policymakers. Sometimes that means creative financing,” Norenberg wrote.
“And sometimes that means letting Domino’s pick up the tab.”
It’s fascinating – and clearly successful advertising campaign. America’s roads are in a woeful condition in many areas of the country and given the current economic climate, it is becoming harder for local government to keep everything up to grade. There’s something sinister about the whole thing. A billion-dollar company is benefiting from major tax cuts before spending a relatively small amount of money on local government for the sake of an advertising campaign but sadly, it’s necessary.