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Oh Yes They Did: Domino’s Fixing Roads Across America

             6/23/2018

dominos logo on filled pothole

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Several restaurant chains have set the media ablaze in the past month, between Starbucks’ massive diversity-training initiative (or more accurately, virtue-signaling) and IHOP’s name change to IHOB, the International House of Burgers (which may or may not just be a stunt). One of the most interesting, however, has been the Domino’s “Paving for Pizza” campaign. According to the program’s official website, “Potholes, cracks, and bumps in the road can cause irreversible damage to your pizza during the drive from Domino’s. We can’t stand by and let your cheese slide to one side, your toppings get un-topped, or your boxes get flipped. So we’re helping to pave in towns across the country to save your good pizza from these bad roads.”

As the company states on the Paving for Pizza website, they are only donating funds to partnered municipalities to cover these road repairs. They are not taking any actual responsibility for conducting these repairs. You would be forgiven for thinking otherwise, however, given that the Internet and even the relevant website is awash with photographs of vehicles and construction cones marked “Paving for Pizza” with the Domino’s logo. Also, it is worth noting that any areas of road repaired under the partnership are marked with the Domino’s trademark logo and slogan: “Oh Yes We Did.”

The reaction to this program has been rather interesting to follow. Town governments certainly seem happy with the results. Michael Montgomery, a town administrator for Bartonville, TX, stated, “I was ecstatic; I didn’t think it was possible, but Domino’s delivered on their promise to fix potholes in Bartonville.” The mayor, Bill Scherer, agreed that “this unique, innovative partnership allowed the town of Bartonville to accomplish more potholes [sic] repairs.” Bartonville, TX— with 8 potholes fixed and 3 roads repaired thanks to Domino’s— is featured on the website with the appropriate comments, as are Burbank, CA (5 potholes fixed, 1 road repaired), Athens, GA (150 square yards of failing roadway repaved), and on my own Delmarva peninsula, Milford, DE (40 potholes fixed, 10 roads repaired).

Public and media reaction has seemed to be more neutral, best characterized in a sentence as, “Well, that’s interesting.” As The Hill notes, Domino’s has contributed to road and infrastructure measures before, but this case is something different in terms of its scale and the attention it is receiving. In the world of social media, I have personally observed a more definitive reaction from a number of libertarians with anarcho-capitalist leanings (meaning a lack of belief in official government, focusing on the free market and capitalist interest as the driving forces of society). These “ancaps,” as they are colloquially known, are celebrating the Paving for Pizza initiative as a victory, proving the superiority of the private sector.

Without giving too much credence to the chatter of "fringe" ideologies, it should be pointed out that this argument has some inherent flaws: 1) Domino’s is not actually overseeing the repairs of the roads, only donating money to the towns; 2) Domino’s is not actually creating any new roads in any way, only paying to repair existing roads; 3) most importantly, this initiative does not seem to be a simple gesture of goodwill, or even a large-scale effort to boost customer satisfaction. It says a lot that the equipment is marked with Domino’s/Paving for Pizza logos and that a Domino’s logo is left in every filled pothole. Plain and simple, it is a publicity stunt, which is not necessarily a bad thing, as the roads are certainly benefitting. Nonetheless, Domino’s has certainly set a fascinating precedent for public and private cooperation.

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