Sunday, October 3, 2010

Ads on Permission Slips

Joanne Jacobs has a quick hit on selling ads on permission slips.
Ads for local businesses will appear on permission slips, class calendars and school notices sent home with elementary students in Peabody, Massachusetts, reports the Boston Globe. Ads for cigarettes and liquor will be banned.
The calendars are no big surprise. Schools have been selling ads on sports calendars for what, decades? The sports stadium is littered with ads and the cafeteria probably a bunch more. The permission slips and report cards are new, but only report cards seem to me a worthwhile location. Permission slips are sent home, quickly skimmed and signed (rarely read) and then go back to the teacher. Report cards have more permanence and might be posted somewhere and often viewed.

One of the things that amused me about the story was the idea that cigarettes and liquor ads will be banned (I guess they're too evil) but the ads targeted to elementary kids will be "age-appropriate," ... "local pizza and ice cream shops." Certain vices are verboten but it's okay to fatten them up? They're in the clear because they'll allow "dance and karate schools"? And then there's this gem of an idea ... "maybe from a florist or a college." That's funny. When I think about 3rd graders, the first thought is not usually a desire to buy from florists or a need to worry about college.

Secondly, they should be upfront and admit it's all about a little extra money the principal can waste on frivolity.
"Peabody schools laid off six teachers, two guidance counselors and other staff this year. Fees for riding the bus and playing sports were raised."
This is a drop in the bucket. Maybe enough to re-furnish the principal's office. To mention staffing numbers and fees in the same article as (wildly overestimated) $24,000 in advertising seems only calculated to reduce the inevitable backlash.

What backlash?  I'm sure that some parent will complain.  Maybe the Pizza Shack owner who has to forever display his daughter's straight-A report card with the Tony's Pizza ad on it.  I would complain if I found out that the school went through the hassle of selling the ads but had to buy specially printed report cards (using up the "profits" because every report mailing was different) and then spent hours of time trying to get the report cards to print out properly.  I would also want to earmark the money.  Putting into the Principal's Slush Fund isn't my idea of proper management.

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