Indiana Fire Hydrants Now Extra Crispy

Two Hoosier cities seeking creative ways to supplement their budgets have gotten a bit of assistance from the Colonel — yes, THE Colonel.

Fast-food chain KFC is giving two Indiana cities $7,500 so it can emblazon founder Colonel Sanders’ face on hydrants and fire extinguishers to promote new "fiery" chicken wings.

Experts say to expect more ads on public property as companies look to cut through the clutter of traditional advertising. Cash-strapped governments have long sold space on mass-transit vehicles, benches, trash cans and other public property to help stretch budgets.

KFC told Indianapolis and nearby Brazil that it wanted to improve their fire safety by helping pay for new hydrants and extinguishers in public buildings in exchange for ads on them.

Alternative marketing efforts like this have been growing as people become immune to conventional advertising, said Allen Adamson, managing director of branding firm Landor Associates.

"I think it’s the tip of an iceberg … as marketers struggle to find places to reach consumers and as cities look for ways to squeeze more dollars," Adamson said.

So do you think this is a useful way to enhance public budgets — or capitalism run amok and an unhealthy merging of the public and private sectors?

Not So Fast, Governor

So we have Our Man Mitch, a guy who’s changing government for the better and won re-election with overwhelming support even when the top of the ticket trended the other way, and our poor neighbors got stuck with this guy (not to mention George Ryan before him):

Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich and his Chief of Staff, John Harris, were arrested today by FBI agents on federal corruption charges alleging that they and others are engaging in ongoing criminal activity: conspiring to obtain personal financial benefits for Blagojevich by leveraging his sole authority to appoint a United States Senator; threatening to withhold substantial state assistance to the Tribune Company in connection with the sale of Wrigley Field to induce the firing of Chicago Tribune editorial board members sharply critical of Blagojevich; and to obtain campaign contributions in exchange for official actions – both historically and now in a push before a new state ethics law takes effect January 1, 2009.

Point Indiana. But please join me in wishing our Illinois neighbors the best so they can recover and get on track with some semblance of honest governance in the near future.

Illinois Fun Fact: According to Frugal Hoosiers, that means 4 of the last 7 Illinois governors in the past 50 years have gone to prison. (On the upside, 3 of their last 7 governors have not gone to prison.)