Hold the . . . pizzas

Domino’s marketing scheme bad for road repair

Bill Wilson / July 05, 2018
Bill Wilson

My daughter should be in commercials, but my youngest appears to be fit for a public service announcement.

In no way am I selling my Declan short, and many people have told us Ainsley is beautiful enough to be a child model (look at my mug and you will know the gene is not encapsulated in my body). My 7-year-old, however, insists on hitting it big by sending a message about the dangers of running out in the middle of the street without looking. His commercial has aired a few times, and has been slammed by his harshest critic—me.

Advertisements on billboards are one thing, but advertisements on the actual pavement? Has the business community gone mad, or have cities and towns reached a desperate level of desperation (is there a worse kind?) when it comes to road maintenance? For those who have not heard about Domino’s Pizza’s latest ad campaign, it is an awkward slice to digest. The chain has decided to lend a helping hand to local communities by fixing potholes, which seems fitting since the little craters have been popping up since the pie was invented. The Romans were master engineers who could design their way out of anything, but even the descendants of Caesar damaged countless chariots because of poor roads. Domino’s was growing tired of the potholes and their ability to ruin their pizzas. The Michigan-based company blames what happens in a box during delivery on bad roads, and has set out to battle the elements. Domino’s has claimed to have already filled 200 potholes, and those who want to plead their town’s case need to fill out a form online and wait for a special knock at the door.

Domino’s does not cut any corners. Paving equipment is painted in the familiar red, white and blue and carries the logo, which is even painted on the new chunk of road. According to Domino’s, Bartonville, Texas, Mayor Bill Scherer was giddy over the crusade, claiming the partnership allowed his town to accomplish more pothole repairs.

It appears Domino’s might want to stick to ingredients it knows best. The Guardian came out with a report that stated the following: “So far, Domino’s has made a very little dent in that problem: across the four towns they’ve worked in they’ve fixed a couple of hundred potholes, but a majority of those were in Athens, Ga. In Burbank, Calif., they fixed just five, funding five workers to work eight hours.”

The Federal Highway Administration does not want any kind of advertising coming close to touching its roads, even threatening to pull funding if a state makes an attempt, but apparently branding can form one long infomercial down main street. Sponsorships are nothing new in the road and bridge industry. Not long ago I remember writing about the possibility of someone like AT&T wrapping ads around bridge columns.

I don’t think embedding, in this case, a domino into the pavement is a good idea. What happens when the pothole starts to break up, or the paint used for the logo begins to chip? Is that strong marketing? Perhaps the biggest reason is the fact that businesses like Domino’s do not belong in the paving business. If it wants to donate a ton of money and put a sign up somewhere, that’s fine, but it should not go any further. If towns and cities are struggling that much to repair their roads then they have to do more to generate funding. This message is brought to you by common sense.

About the Author

Wilson is editorial director of Roads & Bridges.

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