Peddling to kids – Negotiating mismatch

The schoolhouse is becoming a billboard, a federal report says.

From sweetheart soft-drink deals to continuous ads on computer screens, the General Accounting Office report says, corporate marketing in the public schools is surging, The New York Times reported Sept. 14.

Yet few states regulate commercial deals in schools, which typically are made by local officials, the report says.

“In-school marketing has become a growing industry,” the report says. “Some marketing professionals are increasingly targeting children in schools, companies are becoming known for their success in negotiating contracts between school districts and beverage companies, and both educators and corporate managers are attending conferences to learn how to increase revenue from in-school marketing for their schools and companies.”

About one of every four middle schools and high schools in the U.S. broadcast Channel One, which features news and commercials, in their classrooms, and about 200 school districts have inked exclusive deals with soft-drink companies to sell their beverages in schools, the report says.

School districts, seeing the 47.2 million students in the U.S. as an increasingly lucrative target market for consumer products firms, are willing to sign deals with corporations, the Times said.

While school officials see marketing revenue as a way to help with tight budgets without raising taxes, the Times said, most are out-matched by savvy corporate marketers.

For full story, go to The New York Times.

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