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.
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:
- Socially/Racially/Ethically Offensive
- Condone Violence, illegal activities and illicit substances
Names That Are In: Anything else.
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…).
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?