The new Paving for Pizza pothole-fixing campaign from Domino’s certainly wasn’t one we were expecting. Are such deals a refreshing approach to ongoing infrastructure issues or a cause for concern?
While public-private partnerships are nothing new, the latest one between Domino’s Pizza and cities and towns in America has divided opinion.
Domino’s Pizza has introduced a campaign to help repair cracks, bumps, potholes and other conditions affecting roads. It says these problems with road infrastructure are damaging its in-transit pizzas and it wants to “save good pizzas from bad roads”.
Domino’s, which sees itself as a tech company as much as a pizza provider, is asking customers to nominate their town or city for a grant.
The global pizza chain franchise has already worked alongside four US municipalities to help pay to repair roads, including Bartonville, Texas; Milford, Delaware; Athens, Georgia; and Burbank, California.
Appetite for disruption?
Some are labelling the PR move a genius marketing campaign and “a brilliant piece of inventive disruption” – potholes fixed by Domino’s are branded with the company’s logo and the words: "Oh yes we did", and the pavingforpizza.com website asks: “Is all this talk of pizza making you hungry now?” (And yes, to be honest it kind of is…)
However, city leaders quoted by Domino’s also talk about the initiative in terms of being a public-private partnership which helps tight funds go further.
“This unique, innovative partnership allowed the town of Bartonville to accomplish more pothole repairs,” said Bill Scherer, Mayor of Bartonville Texas.
Milford’s city manager is quoted as saying: “We appreciated the extra Paving for Pizza funds to stretch our street repair budget as we addressed more potholes than usual.”
Stephen Bailey, Program Development Co-ordinator, Athens, commented: “We were intrigued by this unique public-private partnership. This was certainly a new type of opportunity for us.”
Blurring the boundaries?
Some say they see the initiative as somehow "dystopian":
Others fear that it creates a worrying blur between public services and corporate interests:
Nice gesture. But what kind of state are we in as a society when Domino's pizza takes a responsibility to fill potholes. Filling potholes is a function of government. Ultimately the goal for Domino's is to sell more pizzas. That shouldn't be the reason to fill potholes.
Nice gesture. But what kind of state are we in as a society when Domino's pizza takes a responsibility to fill potholes. Filling potholes is a function of government. Ultimately the goal for Domino's is to sell more pizzas. That shouldn't be the reason to fill potholes.— Kevin D (@freekev22) June 11, 2018
What do you think – is this a clever campaign which neatly fixes a problem faced by both Domino’s and its customers (and which might not otherwise get done), or is it the thin end of a worrying wedge?