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The issue of advertising in schools worries specialists a lot, especially from the point of view of health. The Institute of Medicine has revealed the results of the research on the influence of advertising to the development of food preferences (Institute of Medicine, 2006). Children are easy targets for marketers because they are not always able to process messages adequately, so the impact of the advertisements on minors is tremendous. Marketing of unhealthy items became so aggressive in schools that health advocates stated that there is a necessity of providing regulatory systems to prohibit that. (Raine et al., 2013). Still, the question is whether it is appropriate to place advertisements at all, remains open.
Schoolchildren spend most of the day at schools, so marketers have enough time to shape choices of the future audience. As a result, placing ads at schools is very beneficial for companies – kids are not just future adults who will buy products soon, but they have enough money to purchase now.
Still, advertising at schools has both negative and positive impacts. One of the most important is financing of schools. Educational institutions are searching for new ways of finding income and placing ads on school grounds is a convenient way to raise money for educational purposes. For example, approximate income from ads located on a school bus is around $250,000. This sum can be used for the improvement of the educational equipment, so schools get a possibility to implement modern technologies, new methods and techniques to the curriculum.
Another fact supporting ads in schools is maintaining of fund levels, so there are no money loses and as a result, schools can stay afloat and there will be no danger of closing.
In addition, for the most part advertisements are placed by local businesses and that develops a unique kind of connection between the community and local companies. For example, sponsoring of local school sports team shows parents of the schoolchildren that this company cares about children of the community. For small companies it is especially beneficial because of building of positive branding.
On the other hand, corporations can and will influence the way how teachers educate students because they want to have an efficient output on their investments. For example, oil company may pressure teachers to discuss ways of saving the ocean from pollution performed by oil companies instead of discussing negative impacts on nature because of fracking.
More than that, schools may provide personal data of the students to advertisers, as a part of advertising contract. This information can be used for more targeted advertising or misused so students will be exposed to the danger of identity theft.
The trouble is, parents have no possibility to control the content of advertisements. The influence that the brand has on students results in a lifelong support of the brand and it is more beneficial for the companies rather than trying to influence parents of a student.
However, there is no real control over the target audience – no one can guarantee that the household of a student will change the brand to the advertised one, so the companies roll the dice placing ads at school.
All that shows that advertising in school has both negative and positive sides, so it is essential to search for perfect balance. It may be a sound solution for maintaining school funds, yet, advertisers should not influence the educational process.
- Institute of Medicine . National Academies Press; Washington, DC: 2006. Food Marketing to Children and Youth: Threat or Opportunity?
- Raine K.D., Lobstein T., Landon J. Restricting marketing to children: consensus on policy interventions to address obesity. J. Public Health Policy. 2013;34(2):239–253. [PubMed]