Wednesday, January 6, 2010

$elling the City: Ballard Administration Obtains KFC Sponsorship of Indianapolis Fire Department

In that spirit, the Ballard administration announced it had signed a sponsorship deal with KFC (formerly Kentucky Fried Chicken) worth $5,000. The Indianapolis Business Journal reports in part:

KFC will use images of iconic Kentucky Fried Chicken founder Colonel Harland Sanders with Indianapolis firefighters and city fire trucks to help market the launch of a new product, fiery grilled chicken wings, later this month.

A Tuesday photo shoot was conducted at the city’s fire station and Indy Parks center at Garfield Park. Mayor Ballard may also appear in those photos, which will be primarily distributed for media use.

In exchange, Louisville-based KFC will provide $2,500 to the local fire department to buy 1,000 smoke detectors that will be handed out to the public. KFC also will pay $2,500 for about 150 fire extinguishers for 17 Indy Parks recreation centers. Each fire extinguisher will feature a 4-inch KFC logo.

“In a time when money is tight for all city municipalities, we see this as a win-win,” Pittman said. “This is a pilot program for both sides to see how this is received.”

There’s potential to expand the sponsorship deal, city officials said, and could include having KFC feed Indianapolis firefighters during extended fire and other emergency runs.

In April, Ballard announced plans to launch a city sponsorship program in which businesses could sponsor city programs, services and possibly even buildings or other city-owned structures. City officials said they’ve been talking to potential corporate sponsors since August.

City officials hope to have 10 to 15 such deals rolled out this year.

“We want to get these first deals right,” said Michael Huber, Ballard’s director of enterprise development. “We want to make sure these deals have a clear benefit and are good for the citizens. We want the benefit these deals provide to be obvious to the citizens.”
A lot of my Republican and Libertarian friends love the idea of selling the right to advertise on city assets, or the naming rights to city assets. That way private businesses make "voluntary" contributions to the public dole and our taxes are reduced.

First, let me assure you our taxes will never be reduced by this scheme. It will simply be more revenue that our elected officials can spend, i.e. waste. Second, the practice is tacky beyond belief. Do we really want our public assets to be adorned with stickers like a NASCAR driver's uniform? Or have our public buildings named after some company? I know they regularly do that for sports stadiums built with tax dollars. Of course, when it comes to Indy, taxpayers don't get the naming rights money from Lucas Oil Stadium - the Colts do.

Finally, one can't help but overlook the amount involved in this particular sponsorship deal? $5,000? KFC certainly seems to be getting a lot of bang for the (few) bucks it is paying the City It's more than a little surprising that the administration though this tiny deal was worthy of a press release.

I'm reminded of an episode of Reno 911 in which a Hooters-style restaurant sponsored the Reno Sheriff's Department. The cars were repainted the restaurant's colors - pink - along with decal. The officers were outfitted with pink uniforms. Is that next?

Here's an idea. If the City wants money, don't give the billionaire Simonses $15 million more per year of our tax dollars for the Pacers.


M Theory said...

I work in advertising. The manpower and hoopla they are spending over this measly $5,000 ad campaign is not worth the $5,000.

And $5,000 is a small advertising contract even for a mom and pop business, let alone a big national product launch.

How absurdly ironic that the ads will likely be on non-working hydrants that can't put out the fire.

Who negotiated this deal? Fred Glass?

Downtown Indy said...

1. I don't see any indication of how long that sticker has to remain. Perhaps it is 'until it falls off?'

2. If any of these are placed in the downtown area, will the NFL require them to be covered over during the super bowl?

Maybe we could get FirstAlert or a fire extinguisher maker to advertise. They could probably sell a whole bunch of product right about now!

Citizen Kane said...

This is laughable. This is the kind of money neighborhood groups get from businesses from advertising in newsletters.

If they would demand that the Colts turn over the naming rights money from Lucas Oil Stadium, then that would be worth a press release.

patriot paul said...

I have to disagree with the idea. I don't think a city working for a first class status needs to plaster our structures with additional commercial advertising. 'Tacky' is a good word to use along with 'poor taste'. On the one hand the City tries to remove billboards but then succumbs to these stunts. Do dogs peeing on a Colonel Sanders face hydrant is not exactly finger lickin good. How about trash cans emblazoned with Obama campaign ads or our public snow plows with a massage parlor glitzy ad. Let's not forget the man-hole covers and blacktop patch work, police cars with Dunkin Donuts stickers, utility trucks with McDonals's combo specials. Is this the road to a world class city that prostitutes itself?

Hoosier in the Heartland said...

IBJ also notes that the Indiana town of Brazil is also part of the chicken wing campaign -- it gets $2,500 to repair or replace fire hydrants in exchange for putting the KFC logo on at least three of them.

As pointed out in Eye on Indianapolis: Brazil has a population of less than 8,300, making their "haul" about 30 cents per person. Indy's population is about 785,000, netting about .006 cents per person.

Seems clear that Brazil has better sponsorship negotiators!

Hoosier in the Heartland said...

According to the city, Center Township had a budget of $4,412,887 for 2009. (And, of course, that's just the tip of the Indy iceberg.)

Compare that to the $5,000 from this "sponsorship".

What a joke