How can you drum it up when everybody is also paying extra close attention to where a wallet’s contents are disappearing to? Cities are no different. Government services are hurting for cash and there are only so many ways to generate more dough.
Baltimore is currently trying to sell space on its fire engines to raise some extra pennies. And why not? The city’s current budget has made the elimination of three city fire companies necessary this summer.
Philadelphia is selling ad space on its subway fare cards and one of the city’s main train stops is now named for AT&T. Chicago is selling naming rights to its eleven “L” subway stations. As for the Times’ hometown, the naming rights for the Atlantic Avenue subway station at the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn were sold in 2009, and the MTA implemented the Barclays name change in May.
The NYT report adds that corporate brands can cause confusion to the good citizens navigating them: “Cleveland recently named its new Bus Rapid Transit system the HealthLine after it received $6.25 million over 25 years from the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals. (‘The HealthLine is not a number to call for free medical advice, any more than Quicken Loans Arena is where you go to take out a loan,’ its website notes.)”
The paper notes that KFC was one of the leaders in this form of advertising. The company “temporarily plastered its logo on manhole covers and fire hydrants in several cities in Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee after paying to fill potholes and replace hydrants.” Sounds like not the worst tradeoff, right?
“As I’ve looked at budgets, they get bigger with less support from the federal and state governments,” Baltimore City Council member William Welch said. “And we can’t tax people out of existence. We’re trying, our mayor’s trying, to bring 10,000 more people back to Baltimore city. And if you have an increasing fee or tax structure, you’re not going to be able to do that. So you have to create alternatives.”
The Times notes that while selling naming rights raises money, it can also raise some thorny issues as well. The town of Tyngsborough, Mass., was considering selling ad space in order to raise money for new police cars, but it ended up deciding to not go there just yet. “Because of what we do, we like to be neutral,” said Chief William F. Mulligan, according to the Times. “Say there were two shopping plazas, and one advertised and one didn’t. Would that company feel like we weren’t treating them fairly?”