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The State of Virginia, Brought to You by Carl’s Jr: Statewide Program to Sell Road Naming Rights

DIRECTIONS:

Take the Justin Bieber Turnpike for 6 miles.

Exit at Career Builder.com Avenue.

Continue straight until it turns into Gravy Fries by Carl’s Jr. Lane.

Take the second right, which is “Show Me Potato Salad!” Drive and my house is the first one on the left.

That’s not really how you get to my house. I may or may not be in the witness protection program for some of the things I’ve said, so I can’t divulge my actual address. But someday this might be 100% true… at least if I lived in the state of Virginia.

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell seems to have taken Rahm Emanuel’s plan to sell advertising on landmarks to the next level: selling the land itself.

Virginia State Route 42

The future "Justin Bieber Turnpike"?

July 1st marks the start of a new statewide program to sell the naming rights of tollways, roads, bridges, and just about anything else motor vehicles can drive on in order to generate income that will help build and repair roads.

The cost of naming a roadway will be commensurate with the traffic. For example, an expressway that sees millions of commuters on a daily basis will cost a boatload more to name than a back-woods road that leads any and all travellers to their Texas Chainsaw Massacre doom.

Once you purchase the rights, you have the ability to call the road almost anything you can imagine.

Names That Are Out:

  • Vulgar
  • Obscene
  • Socially/Racially/Ethically Offensive
  • Condone Violence, illegal activities and illicit substances

Names That Are In: Anything else.

Virginia bridge

Should I name this after my ex?

Any person can buy naming rights if they have the money. When I become a gazillionaire, I could name a bridge after my ex-girlfriend who has been banned from the state of Virginia. That way I could start every day by rubbing it in her face that there’s a bridge named after her, but she can never go see it (I won’t do that, I’m a classy mofo… but I could).

However, the state expects the majority of the money will come from large corporations looking to further increase brand awareness.

This is hardly a new idea. Sports stadiums have been doing this for decades (who says jocks are slower than the rest of us?). That’s why the Colorado Rockies play in Coors Field, or the Indianapolis Colts play at Lucas Oil Stadium (I could go on and on…).

Toronto Skydome

The Rogers Center (formerly The Skydome, til bought by Rogers Communications)

What better way for a brand to spread word of its name than to show up on every GPS and Google Maps Print-Out from now until December 2012 (when Snooki’s baby brings about Armageddon)?

There are mixed feelings about it within the state. The Virginia Center for Transportation Innovation and Research estimates naming rights could generate as much as $27.3 million in the first 5 years, and close to $270 million over 20 years.

State Senator Barbara Favola suggests these numbers are ludicrous, saying “People aren’t going to spend millions of dollars to put their name on a bridge and be associated with congestion.”

It may have started with stadiums (the “gateway drug” of naming rights), but where will it end?

What both sides are forgetting is the sheer anarchy and chaos that could conceivably arise.

Would I one day have to take the T-Mobile Expressway to get to U.S. Cellular Field? Will the Pizza Hut on Papa John’s Way be forced to relocate? Will updating your Twitter Feed while walking through Facebook National Park be considered an act of terrorism?

When Main St., USA becomes Exxon Mobil St., USA, Canada wins.

What do you think? Should anyone be allowed to purchase naming rights, or should this be limited? What would you name a street if you had the chance?

Image credit to DOK1, dougtone, bennylin0724, dougtone, and Clipart.com.


Alex Brodsky

Alex is a video specialist and blogger at Quality Logo Products, putting his media background and screenwriting training to good use. When he's not working, he enjoys tinkering with his fantasy sports lineups, engaging in cheeky shenanigans, and cuddling. He must also get all of his caffeine from pop as he can't stand coffee. You can also connect with Alex on Google+.

Comments

  1. Eric

    Better we sell the naming right to our bridges than, I don’t know…sell-out our species as a whole.

    The chihuahua wasn’t as fortunate an animal.

    Then again…we’re on on way there: http://io9.com/5892397/at-sxsw-2012-wireless-hotspots-are-people

    • Alex Brodsky

      Wow… Just… Wow.

      I would have expected somebody to do that with Production Assistants, Interns, yadda yadda yadda… But there’s something about using homeless people that makes this astonishing.

      I would have loved to be in the meeting where somebody pitched this as an idea. It had to have been a joke, and then you have the boss not get it and go, “Hmm… Yes, that could work.”

  2. Mandy Kilinskis

    Ugh! We can’t let Canada win!

    In all honesty, I’m shocked that it wasn’t Illinois that proposed this idea first. Considering how badly our state is in debt, this program seems right up our alley!

    • Alex Brodsky

      It was probably somewhere on every corrupt Illinois governor’s agenda, but arrests and court dates got in the way of implementing it and Virginia beat us to the punch.

  3. Amy Swanson

    I think this idea is totally weird! This is the only way your state can make more money? Really?! I’m totally in agreement with State Senator Barbara Favola, “people aren’t going to spend millions of dollars to put their name on a bridge and be associated with congestion.”

    Imagine if Mucenix or DayQuil bought a known congested tollway. I picture signs posted that say, “Is your head as congested as this road? Stop at your pharmacy to pick up Mucenix DM!” That’s a form of advertising I pray I never have to put up with!!

    Having a street or bridge or tollway named after me isn’t on my bucket list now and nor will it ever be. Thanks, but no thanks.

    • Alex Brodsky

      Well, I think you need to copyright your Mucinex/Dayquil ad idea and pitch it to the state. You may be perfectly ok putting up with this kind of advertising if you’re one of the people who is cashing in off of it.

  4. Jaimie Smith

    Alex idk how you do it, you make every blog hilarious.
    This was FREAKING AWESOME!!
    And I love how you had to add the fact that your ex gf is banned from the state, lol hilarious!
    “That’s why the Colorado Rockies play in Coors Field” That is just awesome to me. I am obsessed with Coors Light and I will add it to my bucket list to go watch the Colorado Rookies now.
    As always, amazing post, Alex!

    • Alex Brodsky

      Thanks!

      And you should definitely try and make it out to Denver to see Coors Field. I’ve never been, but I want to. The stadium looks awesome.

      The ex-girlfriend thing was dangerous. If she ever Googles me, I might be in some danger. But I will sacrifice my own safety for entertaining material for QLP.

  5. Rachel

    This is weirdly hilarious but also kind of fascinating. I like your “what-if” scenarios. Would there be actual, legitimate lawsuits and controversies if, say, a Burger King were on McDonalds Street and they felt like their brand image was being damaged by the situation?

    Interesting stuff — thanks, Alex!

    • Alex Brodsky

      If enough companies were to buy into this idea (although I’m willing to bet that they won’t) it could certainly cause some ethical and legal dilemmas for companies. I’m sure there are no laws on the books that cover things like this, so the first issues would certainly be the precedent-setting decisions that could shape the program.

      I.E. – The male sex organ would probably be considered obscene (“Big Johnson Way” may be shot down as a legal street name) but would Viagra (a legitimate business with a LOT of money) be allowed to put their name on a road?

      This draws a very grey and shady line. One that will probably end up wasting a ton of the Virginia court system’s time and money.

    • Alex Brodsky

      The “what-if” scenarios are what will make this interesting. This is seemingly a brand new idea so there can’t possibly be laws on the books involving this situation.

      So basically it boils down to every argument will lead to a precedent setting lawsuit, which will really accomplish nothing but waste the Virginia Court System’s time and money.

  6. Jill Tooley

    BASEketball is all I can think about when I hear stuff like this. Preparation H Arena will exist in the future — I’m convinced of it!

    Even if I had the cash, I don’t think I’d bother naming any streets in Virginia. I’d never get to see it, so what would be the point? Corporations are the only ones that will benefit from this strategy, and that’s only going to be annoying for consumers! “KFC’s Famous Bowl Lane (a.k.a. Failure Pile in a Sadness Bowl, if you’re a Patton Oswalt fan) is inevitable, I’m afraid.

    Thanks for another entertaining post, Eric!

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