John Clark discussing an important, but seldom talked about issue in Maine. At a time when the population is getting older, our state department of transportation has shut down at least four rest areas on I-95. The two just north of Augusta and the two just south of Pittsfield are no more. Good thing there’s no truth to the two Maine theory because all four are north of what I consider to be the imaginary line dividing those two Maines that don’t exist.
Granted, as a guy, I can pull over in any rural area when the call of nature strikes (something that happens more when you get to be my age, alas), but that’s not particularly true on the turnpike or I-95. In fact the last time I did so, A state cop pulled up and quizzed me about my intentions. Heck, even the Airline has more pit stops than the interstate now. As for women, the stop and relieve option isn’t one often considered.
This brings me to an idea that’s been floating around in my head for a while. In an era where corporations are eager to purchase naming rights to arenas and stadiums, why not sponsored rest areas. It’s been done in Arizona, Florida, Iowa and Virginia in various ways already. I’m here to promote the concept and suggest a few potential candidates. I welcome your added sponsors and slogans in the comments section.
Depends is a natural with the “We’ve got you covered, no matter where you’ve gotta go,” welcome sign. Tim Horton’s would be another (providing Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks don’t scoop them) with dual offer of relief and a discounted recharge to keep folks going until they can’t. Then there’s Maxwell House, proclaiming their rest area is “Good to the Last Drop.”
Nike would be perfect with their “Just Do It” campaign, while even Hallmark might have an interest in sponsorship with their ‘When You Care Enough to Send the Very Best.”
I suspect there might even be a sponsorship battle between the ED moguls given the slogans “It Ain’t Gonna Fix Itself,” and “Freedom to be Ready and Relaxed.” Other drug companies are definitely in the running. Consider Alka-Seltzer’s timeless slogan “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is,” or Rolaids “How Do You Spell Relief?”
Soft drink giant Coke is another possibility with “The Pause That Refreshes,” then there’s Mastercard. Imagine a rest area proclaiming “There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else, there’s MasterCard.”
Even the political parties are liable to get in on the action, depending upon which one comes up with the best take on the trickle-down, not to mention the possibility of Microsoft getting in on the act by grabbing all rest area sponsorship sites, thus answering the question posed in their ad slogan “Where do you want to go today?”
How about the tourism industry, starting with Holiday Inn. Imagine pulling in when you’re at the end of your rope to be greeted by a sign saying “Pleasing People the World Over.” Even major cities can get in on the act, beginning with Las Vegas and “What Happens Here Stays Here.”
Last but not least is Home Depot with their greeting at the rest stop south of Lincoln “You Can Do It, We Can Help.”
I bet some enterprising and creative readers can come up with even better corporate sponsors. Feel free to share them in your comments.