More school districts facing a financial crunch are considering school ads

4 Jun

In Should there be advertising in schools? Moi said:

The issue is whether children in a “captive” environment have the maturity and critical thinking skills to evaluate the information contained in the ads. Advertising is about creating a desire for the product, pushing a lifestyle which might make an individual more prone to purchase products to create that lifestyle, and promoting an image which might make an individual more prone to purchase products in pursuit of that image. Many girls and women have unrealistic body image expectations which can lead to eating disorders in the pursuit of a “super model” image. What the glossy magazines don’t tell young women is the dysfunctional lives of many “super models” which may involve both eating disorders and substance abuse. The magazines don’t point out that many “glamor girls” are air-brushed or photo-shopped and that they spend hours on professional make-up and professional hairstyling in addition to having a personal trainer and stylist. In other words, when presented with any advertising, people must make a determination what to believe.

Amy Aidman lists the types of advertising in schools in the article, Advertising in the Schools.


Captive Kids,” a new report by the CUES (1995) summarizes the routes of commercial messages into schools, examines some of those messages, and discusses the meaning of the enormous influx of corporate-produced materials into the schools. The report, which is a follow-up to the earlier report, “Selling America’s Kids” (CUES, 1990), divides the examples of in-school commercialism into four categories:

IN-SCHOOL ADS. In-school ads are conspicuous forms of advertising that can be seen on billboards, on school buses, on scoreboards, and in school hallways. In-school ads include ads on book covers and in piped-in radio programming. Advertising is also found in product coupons and in give-aways that are distributed in schools.

ADS IN CLASSROOM MATERIALS AND PROGRAMS. Ads in classroom materials include any commercial messages in magazines or video programming used in school. The ads in “Channel One” fall into this category.

CORPORATE-SPONSORED EDUCATIONAL MATERIALS AND PROGRAMS. Promotional messages appearing in sponsored educational materials may be more subtle than those in the previous categories. Sponsored educational materials include free or low-cost items which can be used for instruction. These teaching aids may take the form of multimedia teaching kits, videotapes, software, books, posters, reproducible activity sheets, and workbooks. While some of these materials may be ad-free, others may contain advertising for the producer of the item, or they may contain biased information aimed at swaying students toward a company’s products or services.

CORPORATE-SPONSORED CONTESTS AND INCENTIVE PROGRAMS. Contests and incentive programs bring brand names into the schools along with the promise of such rewards as free pizzas, cash, points toward buying educational equipment, or trips and other prizes.

Here is the complete citation:

ERIC Identifier: ED389473
Publication Date: 1995-12-00
Author: Aidman, Amy
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education Urbana IL.

Trevor Hughes writes in the USA Today article, Advertising in schools becoming more common:

.Education Funding Partners (EFP), a for-profit corporation, with a goal of bringing $100 million to major public school districts by 2015, company President Mickey Freeman says.

“There’s a way to marry large companies and large districts without having to sacrifice morality,” he says. “The public isn’t paying for public education anymore.”

Advertising in schools is not a new concept and has been part of athletic facilities and school buses for years, but Dax Gonzalez, communications manager for the Texas Association of School Boards, says more schools are turning to advertising.


The college-savings program CollegeInvest signed a three-year deal to advertise on report cards sent home to students in the 85,000-student Jefferson County Public School District, southwest of Denver.

Drugstore chain CVS promoted its flu shot campaign in Virginia and Florida schools with signs at football games, posters at school entrances and in district e-newsletters.

Office supply store Staples this fall will sponsor school supply lists in several California and Texas school districts and provide a coupon for parents, all printed on Staples-branded paper.

District officials expect to earn $30,000 annually through the report-card deal, says Jefferson County schools spokeswoman Lynn Setzer. While it’s small compared with the $60 million in budget cuts the district has made over the past three years, she says every bit helps.

Consumer advocates say marketers want to get in front of kids to build customers for life. Kids are especially vulnerable to persuasive advertising while they are still learning how to think critically, says Elizabeth Ben-Ishai, a spokeswoman for the Washington, D.C.-based consumer-advocacy organization Public Citizen’s Commercial Alert.

A 2006 policy statement in Pediatrics discusses the issues involved in advertising to children.

The American Academy of Pediatrics outlines its policy in Children, Adolescents, and Advertising. Here is an excerpt from the policy:


Advertising is a pervasive influence on children and adolescents. Young people view more than 40 000 ads per year on television alone and increasingly are being exposed to advertising on the Internet, in magazines, and in schools. This exposure may contribute significantly to childhood and adolescent obesity, poor nutrition, and cigarette and alcohol use. Media education has been shown to be effective in mitigating some of the negative effects of advertising on children and adolescents.


Several European countries forbid or severely curtail advertising to children; in the United States, on the other hand, selling to children is simply “business as usual.”1 The average young person views more than 3000 ads per day on television (TV), on the Internet, on billboards, and in magazines.2 Increasingly, advertisers are targeting younger and younger children in an effort to establish “brand-name preference” at as early an age as possible.3 This targeting occurs because advertising is a $250 billion/year industry with 900 000 brands to sell,2 and children and adolescents are attractive consumers: teenagers spend $155 billion/year, children younger than 12 years spend another $25 billion, and both groups influence perhaps another $200 billion of their parents’ spending per year.4,5 Increasingly, advertisers are seeking to find new and creative ways of targeting young consumers via the Internet, in schools, and even in bathroom stalls.1


Research has shown that young children—younger than 8 years—are cognitively and psychologically defenseless against advertising.69 They do not understand the notion of intent to sell and frequently accept advertising claims at face value.10 In fact, in the late 1970s, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) held hearings, reviewed the existing research, and came to the conclusion that it was unfair and deceptive to advertise to children younger than 6 years.11 What kept the FTC from banning such ads was that it was thought to be impractical to implement such a ban.11 However, some Western countries have done exactly that: Sweden and Norway forbid all advertising directed at children younger than 12 years, Greece bans toy advertising until after 10 pm, and Denmark and Belgium severely restrict advertising aimed at children.12                           


Pediatrics Vol. 118 No. 6 December 1, 2006
pp. 2563 -2569
(doi: 10.1542/peds.2006-2698)

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Advertising, if it is allowed in schools, must be handled with great care. It is not just the ads, it is the values that the individual ad and the totality of all ads represent. It is imperative that schools look at their values before approving ads. For example, are the ads promoting healthy nutrition and eating habits? Are the ads promoting an unrealistic body image for adolescents? Are the ads promoting a purely materialistic lifestyle which encourages purchases of high priced clothing, electronics, or vehicles which are not in line with the income of most children? Are the ads in line with the school or district’s mission statement?

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

3 Responses to “More school districts facing a financial crunch are considering school ads”

  1. holistic development early childhood June 11, 2012 at 12:03 pm #

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