With football season upon us, the annual onslaught of ads from big pizza chains is about to begin. Soon, New Orleans may find a few paved into its streets too.
Domino‘s Pizza, the Ann Arbor, Michigan-based chain, has for months been advertising its "Paving for Pizza" campaign, promising to fix potholes in selected communities around the country. The campaign is a customer engagement vehicle, aimed at getting people to write in and make the case for the pothole problems closest to home.
Inevitably, New Orleans rose to the company’s attention.
Built on alluvial soils and reclaimed swamp, the city's streetscape is a multilayered tapestry of ruts, gaps, fissures, potholes, tank traps and sinkholes. Residents are accustomed to the futility of reappearing potholes and some are even known to stage cynical celebrations of problem spots that have aged into topographical features and local points of navigation. New Orleanians could hardly be a better target audience for Domino's paving commercials.
In a release Thursday, Domino's announced that New Orleans is one of the 11 cities chosen for its "Paving for Pizza" campaign, due in part to the large number of residents nominating the city.
Do not get any hopes up for a sweeping infrastructure revolution, however. Where this ad campaign meets the road, the program takes the form of a $5,000 grant from Domino's to City Hall, the body already responsible for street maintenance in the first place.
“We approached the city about the grant and they accepted,” said Domino’s spokeswoman Danielle Bulger. “We leave the details to the city, so where they want to pave and when to do it is up to them.”
A City Hall representative said $5,000 is enough to pay for repairs to about 50 potholes. The city has a goal of filling 50,000 potholes this year.
The grant also comes with a stencil kit to mark up the grant-funded pothole work with the Domino's logo, and a magnet to apply to the vehicles completing the work. Bulger said using those brand materials was optional.
“We give it to them and hope they use them,” she said. “People are passionate about pizza and about potholes, so it goes together.”
Domino's announced the campaign in June and has received 137,000 nominations from 15,275 zip codes. The company did not disclose how many of those nominations came from each community, though in a release it described the New Orleans response as "overwhelming." The city does know it's potholes, after all.
Domino's said it plans to give the grant to one community in each state. A list of the cities that have received grants can be found here.
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