Now, cash-strapped schools turn to bus ads
Local districts are selling advertising space to bring in some much-needed funds, but do the ads send the wrong message to kids?
The ads give advertisers the opportunity to exploit students because they're a captive audience, says Josh Golin of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. Besides, Golin notes, the revenue districts earn from advertising won't do much to help alleviate their financial problems.
Kids also take the ads they see in school seriously, he says, because the district has endorsed a product.
"That sends a very powerful message to a child," he told MSN Money.
Medford, N.J., a wealthy suburb of Philadelphia, is a case in point. The Medford Township School District recently became the first in New Jersey to allow bus ads. According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, a district Medford's size (with about 3,000 students) could expect to earn about $72,000 a year. Its annual budget is about $50 million.
Superintendent Joseph Del Rossi denied that children are a captive audience for the bus ads. In fact, the district, like many others, is eager for more advertising inside its buildings in heavily trafficked areas such as stairwells, though it has yet to strike this kind of deal.
"Every bit helps," Del Rossi told MSN Money. "From my vantage point, I don't see how it exploits children."
The Medford bus ads are for a local supermarket. The district doesn't allow discussions of politics, guns or alcohol, and district officials must approve all messages.
Besides New Jersey, school bus ads are allowed in Massachusetts, Utah, Texas, Nevada, Tennessee, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado. A bill to allow them is pending in Missouri. Golin of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood expects more such legislation to be introduced.
--Follow Jonathan Berr on Twitter @jdberr.
Hey...No Problem....make them like the buses in the city...They could advertise "Eat at Joe's"...or even Pampers, for the other younger siblings who will get on the bus in a few years. Why Not!!!
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Reports say the generous benefactor behind the huge gratuities is a former PayPal executive.
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