Kentucky Fried Chicken offer to fix potholes in exchange for graffiti – err sorry – advertising on the hole covers.  From The Chicago Tribune

 

KFC's pothole fix

Colonel Sanders look-alike Bob Thompson helps a repair crew in Louisville “re-fresh” one of the estimated 350 million potholes nationwide. (KFC Corporation photo/ March 24, 2009)

There is a danger on social networks that sell spotlight advertising of the same kind of backlash. We’ll 

Everybody needs a little KFC. But maybe not Chicago.

The fast-food chain has sent off a letter to the nation’s mayors, offering to patch their potholes for free. The company will leave behind a stenciled brand on the patch informing people the road has been “Re-Freshed by KFC.”

“In honor of our “Fresh Tastes Best” campaign, we want to come and Re-“Fresh” your roads!” KFC president Roger Eaton says in the letter. “Every patched pothole comes with the Colonel’s very own stamp of approval.”

But Brian Steele, a spokesman for the Chicago Department of Transportation, which is charged with repairing the city’s potholes, said “We don’t allow any type of printing or advertising placed on a city street or sidewalk.” (more here)

kfcSpotlight ads on social networks sometimes come across the same way – a company doing their customers a favour by fixing their little problems in return for slapping logos everywhere. Spotlighting is a kind of sponsorship – a forum becomes ‘The KFC forum” the video gallery “The KFC Channel” – sort of the same way that brands snaffle entertainment real world social spaces like Telstra Stadium. You can do it, and there’s revenue in them there social spotlights, but you have to be careful.   My old post said:

Our children observe a world filled with advertising and emulate it in their graffiti. Are they responsible for not understanding that only certain people can dump branding on certain walls? Advertising is branding and expression of the company. Graffiti is self-branding and self-expression of the individual.

Offering spotlight spots in online social networks to brands will evoke the same question of informative content vs spam graffiti. You don’t wanna be that guy when the community decides it’s the latter.