Small town mayors all over the country have been busy seeking votes — not for re-election but to win Benjamin Moore’s “Main Street Matters” contest. Benjamin Moore & Co. (owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway) just announced the winners: 20 North American towns will each receive a free fresh paint job for their respective downtowns. As a major corporate sponsor of actor Brad Pitt’s charitable organization Make It Right, which builds green homes for communities in need, Benjamin Moore was able to get Pitt as the “Main Street Matters” campaign spokesperson. Inspired by peeling paint and the video with Pitt’s voiceover, small business owners, college students, mayors and lots of other folks got on board (and online) to urge people to vote for their hometowns. Nearly half a million votes came in. Perhaps the most creative and successful campaign was led by Susannah Morriss Linnett, a graphic designer in Texarkana (one of the winners), who produced a series of pop-inspired posters that were displayed throughout town.
Benjamin Moore & Co is headquartered in a small (population 7,844) affluent town (median household income $111,633) called Montvale, NJ. Montvale doesn’t need another coat of paint: it doesn’t really have a traditional, small-business-driven Main Street. It is home to the US corporate headquarters of The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company (A&P grocery stores), Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Ingersoll Rand, Pentax, and KPMG.