Mr. Marketing: Advertising on school buses?
By Rob Weinberg
Should school buses have advertising? — Janet Gibson, Rancho Penasquitos
This seems to be the week’s question, probably prompted by the recent article about the Poway Unified School District Foundation exploring use of corporate advertising on campuses.
In April the state Senate killed legislation permitting school bus ads. However, funding questions remain, and the idea of bus ads is sure to return.
In fact, nine states currently permit school bus advertising. Some allow marketing of alcohol, tobacco, or junk food.
California’s $16 billion state budget shortfall has prompted Governor Brown to cut everyplace, and schools are understandably seeking alternate funding sources.
Besides reaching out to alumni (rarely done by high schools), options potentially include selling naming rights (“The Windex Janitorial Closet”), acknowledging corporate donations (“Equipment by SONY”), and accepting on-site advertising (“Stay in school with McDonald’s”).
Will we one day soon watch Rancho Bernardo High football being played on Broncos Verizon Field?
Obviously, reaching a targeted audience appeals to marketers, and taking corporate money to bolster schools is very tempting. Yet as a parent I want to maintain school-related time as a commercial-free zone. We’re all overwhelmed with advertising as it is, and I, for one, don’t feel schools are the place for corporate messaging.
Call me old-fashioned, but it makes me feel the foundation may be opting for the easy out.
Seeking alternatives, I returned to one of my first columns where I suggested the Rancho Bernardo Library generate funds by renting space on their flat roof to Panera or Starbucks. While the idea went nowhere, it may now be time to dust it off and tweak it for the schools to use.
For example, Poway High could have a facility in close proximity to the Poway Center for the Performing Arts. This potentially opens two markets to a vendor, generates much-needed school funds, and doesn’t overwhelm students with corporate propaganda on school property.
Both political parties have proven there’s no easy solution to this issue. Residents without school-age kids hate school-related taxes, parents can’t absorb more fees, and flexibility or sacrifice are seemingly things of the past.
In this case more advertising isn’t the answer. Rather than adding to the messaging glut, perhaps we should start thinking more innovatively.
With that said, I wish you a week of profitable marketing.
Mr. Marketing can help you determine how to best reach any audience. Get his personalized attention at www.askmrmarketing.com.
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