Influential in setting trends today, children and adolescents are potential consumers of tomorrow, which is why the advertising fraternity has come up with the concept of in school advertising, wherein individuals of that particular age group are targeted using specific methods.
There is no questioning the fact that the concept has been successful for advertisers, but then, it has also come under the scanner for its alleged bad influence on the children.
In School Advertising - Boon or Bane?
In this type of advertising, various school activities are sponsored by advertisers with the intention of capturing the attention of their target audience, the students. These activities range from sponsoring literacy programs and awareness campaigns, to sponsoring performance-based rewards.
Direct advertising, wherein advertisers have resorted to age-appropriate advertisements in the form of banners and video films in the school, has been in practice for quite some time now.
If we trace the history, one of the best examples is the 12-minute news for kids started by Whittle Communications, which had a 2-minute slot for age suitable ads. It has become more of a debate topic, with both sides, i.e., those supporting the practice and those opposing it, armed with the benefits and negative effects of the same to support their stance.
Those in support of this trend argue that the education sector and corporate world need to go hand-in-hand, which is exactly what this concept is doing. The trend of commercialization has made it to all the sectors, and if the same makes it to the education sector, it will be beneficial in helping the corporate world and education sector work together.
On one hand, it would mean a captive audience for the corporate world. On the other, it's the simplest way to raise funds for educational programs for schools.
Sponsored education material is one of the best examples of the benefits of advertisements in schools. Such initiatives by corporates don't just provide them a platform to advertise their product, but also ensure that problems like lack of funds don't hamper the progress of public schools.
Kids don't realize that advertisements are meant to sell products. Owing to their inability to think rationally, they tend to accept these ads at their face value. The fact that these children are defenseless against advertisements makes them more vulnerable to the negative effects. They don't realize the claims made in these ads seldom reflect the reality.
Furthermore, critics argue that the practice leads to incessant commercialization of the education sector. The idea of using education as a tool for commercial benefits is by no means ethical. On a similar note, using children as a captive audience is also a little hard to digest.
Several countries have banned this trend, while some have put restrictions on it. It's a well-known fact that children get influenced easily, and if the corporate world is trying to capitalize on their vulnerability only to make profits, then the trend is better off scrapped.