Too little, too late?
November 9, 2001 9:27 AM   Subscribe

Too little, too late? Commercial Alert's campaign to remove advertising from public schools, including "a $5,000 prize to the school that makes the best and most creative effort to remove advertising and commercialism from school premises." After unsuccessful campaigns against Channel One and junk food, the battle seems unwinnable.
(AdSlam link via, a great parenting resource)
posted by whatnot (26 comments total)
ok, i'll bite - please expalin what's so horrible about having advertising of any kind in schools.
posted by nobody_knose at 9:36 AM on November 9, 2001

nobody_knose: It distracts people when they should be learning how to spell.
posted by davehat at 9:46 AM on November 9, 2001

davehat: That's a low blow... he has a point. Kids will be exposed to advertising for the rest of their lives. If they can't discern between wanting a widget and needing a widget then they have other problems.

Schools need money, corporations have money. It's an innocuous solution to a major problem facing public (and private) schools today.
posted by geoff. at 10:09 AM on November 9, 2001

There have been cases (I am desperately searching for a link) in which those advertisers have had influence into what is actually taught. If you think it can't happen, it can. There was even a kid in Georgia who was suspended from school for wearing a Pepsi t-shirt on Coke Day.

Again, sorry for the lack of linkage, I will try to find it. Just having the selfish interests of corporatoins so close to the educational infrastructure is at the very least disgusting. Anyone who watches Sesame Street lately will see that, with America Online's influence (Elmo running around, a computer chasing him saying "You've Got Mail! You've Got Mail!"
posted by adampsyche at 10:17 AM on November 9, 2001

Kids can't discern that, though. I was one, I know. Kids are impressionable. Why would the coporations be advertising to them if it didn't make them buy their products?

Corporations aren't stupid. They generally won't put more money into advertising than they get out of it. Thus, all the money that a company spends on advertising in schools comes right back to them out of the parents' pockets - parents pay for the product *plus* the company's overhead (advertising). Thus, why not cut out the middleman, and have the parents give money to the school? Oh yeah, that's taxes.

In fact, if the parents give money to the schools directly as opposed to the companies, they won't have to spend extra money on the product their kids don't need anyway.
posted by whatnotever at 10:18 AM on November 9, 2001

Linkage for Coke Day incident. A google search comes up with other stuff as well.
posted by adampsyche at 10:18 AM on November 9, 2001

Innocuous my ass. It's not just advertising, it's marketing materials disguised as teaching curricula, it's "exclusivity agreements" that replace healthy beverages with soda, it's wasting time that should be spent on education with commercials.

Here's a good link for your point, adampsyche.
posted by briank at 10:19 AM on November 9, 2001

Thanks, briank. Jello Biafra talked about this at length, and there was one other incident he described, in which a logging company was paying a school, who referred to deforestation as "allowing sunlight to reach the jungle floor to stimulate growth" (warning: gross paraphrasing, but I am taking a look around for linkage on that as well...)

Besides, with how nuts kids are today, do they really need all that sugar-laced soda all day? I wouldn't want to teach them...
posted by adampsyche at 10:23 AM on November 9, 2001

Adbusters covers the Coke v Pepsi t-shirt debacle. I think the kid should be given a medal.
posted by m@ at 10:24 AM on November 9, 2001

Commercial Alert is fighting a losing battle unless they have a method to fund schools themselves.

As long as our politicians refuse to fund schools to the necessary levels, there will be advertising in schools.

What schools need to today are courses in media techniques and criticizm. I wouldn't mind the presence of advertising if all students were given the tools to apply a healthy deconstructing.

(Of course, that might open the Pandora's box of... CRITICAL THINKING!!! AIEEEE! Can't have that in schools, now can we?)
posted by Dirjy at 10:26 AM on November 9, 2001

As long as our politicians refuse to fund schools to the necessary levels, there will be advertising in schools.

An unfortunate truth, but it doesn't mean you can't work to mitigate the impact.
posted by briank at 10:41 AM on November 9, 2001

geoff.: Yeah, I couldn't resist.

But the point about distraction is relevant despite the facetiousness of my initial comment.

I know that there is no way to keep branding out of the playground, but I really do think it can be kept out of the classroom. I'm sure that by the time I have kids in school, they will be confronted with exam questions such as the following (completely made up) example:

If Tim has exactly 3 times as many Oreos as Estera, and Josh has 4 more Oreos than Tim, what's the minimum number of Oreos that Tim and Josh could have together?

Pretty innocuous, I'll admit, but what is school for? Is it there to broaden a child's horizons or to turn them into happy little brand consumers?
posted by davehat at 10:54 AM on November 9, 2001

I'm with the Adbusters. At a time when kids are fatter than ever, we're pushing soft drinks in schools. Cafeterias are experimenting with fast-food meals. Ads on Channel One are just the beginning. A few years ago there was a serious movement in Indianapolis to have school buses carry signage, the way commercial buses do.

Children should be taught media-deconstruction skills from an early age. The only possible hope I draw from this utter saturation of advertising is that maybe, maybe it might make a few more kids into hardened skeptics. But I doubt it.
posted by nance at 10:57 AM on November 9, 2001

We had Channel One in my high school, and, all these years later, I still remember it as bland, annoying crap disguised as "news" and wrapped around commercials. It taught me nothing but to have contempt for the whorish administration who allowed those damn televisions into the school.

Of course, not everyone went along with the program. Our government teacher would patiently sit through the morning announcements and then turn off the tv before Channel One started. He didn't catch any flak for it, probably because he knew that he could out-argue anyone on the administration and point out that it was a) intrusive and b) fluff. Now, if they'd had some real reportage going on, then we would have had something. I don't think we would have minded the commercials if Channel One were McNeil/Lehrer Lite because we would have learned something.

All I remember learning from Channel One was that Kathy Kronenburger was hot.
posted by RakDaddy at 11:07 AM on November 9, 2001

If Tim has exactly 3 times as many Oreos as Estera, and Josh has 4 more Oreos than Tim, what's the minimum number of Oreos that Tim and Josh could have together?

if the math i had taken ever involved oreos, i'm pretty sure i would've been a lot more interested solving the problems.. then again, that just might be me.
posted by lotsofno at 11:15 AM on November 9, 2001

If Timmy exponentiates his Oreos to this sixth power, just exactly how much fat content is he adding to his porky ass, given the calorie content and his sedentary metabolism rate?
posted by adampsyche at 11:22 AM on November 9, 2001

My son will enter kindergarten in 2002, so maybe I'm a little too close to this subject to be objective. I have no illusions that any facet of american society can be truly commercial free, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't continue to bitch about it. Sponsorship doesn't have to be so crass an blatant and I am inclined to boycott advertisers that employ these tactics.

As Dirjy mentioned, I wonder why there isn't more media education in our schools. The few districts that have such programs usually only offer them to high schoolers.
posted by whatnot at 11:35 AM on November 9, 2001

MetaFilter links on the logging company teaching materials: 7645 and 9266
posted by mathowie at 11:46 AM on November 9, 2001

Maybe I was slightly uninformed on the issue. My view of an ad in a school was a marquee paid for by a poster with an ad underneath it. At the very worse it's the monopoly Coca Cola has on the vending machines (don't like Coke, bring a Pepsi).

I was also assuming that the ads were geared at High Schools (I don't remember any ads in whatever form in grade school).

Hiding commercials and propaganda as teaching materials is despicable -- and slightly humorous.
posted by geoff. at 12:28 PM on November 9, 2001

Teacher Corruption: "Channel One and General Mills have tried to hire teachers to act as paid corporate marketing agents. Channel One offered to pay $500 to school employees to promote its controversial product. General Mills offered teachers $250 per month to act as "freelance brand managers" to promote Reese's Puffs."
posted by whatnot at 12:50 PM on November 9, 2001

Whatnot: more details of that little trick available here.
posted by davehat at 1:01 PM on November 9, 2001

While I've argued in favor of advertising and against the gobbledeygook that we are powerless to its impulses (as Adbusters often asserts), I think it has no place in a school setting. Educational funding should come from tax dollars, not Coke/Pepsi.
posted by owillis at 1:06 PM on November 9, 2001

I not a huge fan of taxes, but I vote for every property tax that comes down the pike, because they go for cops and schools. But every goddamn time there's a bond issue or school tax proposal, there's a thousand dickheads coming out of the woodwork against it. It throttles the money supply, and that results in teacher brain drain (coupled with asinine union policies, it's no wonder most teachers worth a shit aren't teachers anymore) and adverts in school, as well as lousy administration, shitty books, no computers, no art and music classes, and kids selling shit door to door to raise money (which is just fucking pitiful).

If the public were ponying up their taxes for the important stuff instead of blithely sticking their thumbs up their asses when the retards in Washington spend money on crap like dog museums, we wouldn't be talking about this. So until you can say you voted for the last couple school taxes, you have exactly zero right to say anything about Channel One.
posted by UncleFes at 1:36 PM on November 9, 2001

Note: that last "you" doesn't mean you personally.
posted by UncleFes at 1:39 PM on November 9, 2001

Davehat: Faginy was once considered a crime, now it's a credited subject. :-(

Now, what's the best-selling, highest-markup product available that high-school students might like to sell to one another through multi-level distribution channels, that even comes with its own built-in loyalty programme?

posted by aeschenkarnos at 6:53 PM on November 10, 2001

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