Welcome To Coca-Cola Town: America’s Scary Corporate Naming Problem


Around the country, the names of our public spaces are being sold off to private donors. Brooklyn’s busy Atlantic Avenue subway station is now the Barclays Bank station; Chicago is selling naming rights to its “L” stops; and Cleveland recently named an entire bus route “The Health Line,” after receiving $6.25 million from the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals. In several other cities, meanwhile, Kentucky Fried Chicken’s logo festoons manhole covers and fire hydrants. A few municipalities have sold ads on their police cars. And seven states now allow pizza chains and other companies to advertise on school buses. That’s good news for business, which can engage old customers and target new ones. And it’s good for our cash-strapped local and state governments, which can make long-needed improvements to crumbling infrastructures. Everyone walks away happy. Right? Wrong.


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