GLOBAL BRIEF: Admen break into schoolyard - School was an ad-free zone but the drinks giants have moved in

There was a time when the schoolyard was a place of sanctuary, a refuge from the stresses and pressures of commercial life, one place where the sponsor’s message simply couldn’t reach. But no longer, at least in the US.

There was a time when the schoolyard was a place of sanctuary, a

refuge from the stresses and pressures of commercial life, one place

where the sponsor’s message simply couldn’t reach. But no longer, at

least in the US.



Schoolchildren of the very near future might find that their gym lessons

are suddenly taking place in ’Just Do It’ hall, while their choice of

cola in the ’Just for the Taste of It’ school canteen might suddenly be

severely restricted. Because in the US, major advertisers have for the

first time started to cut deals directly with local education

authorities. The aim is to get to the kids in the most captive of

environments: the schoolyard.



Coca-Cola, for example, has just agreed an dollars 8 million ten-year

deal with one Colorado school district that gives it exclusive vending

and advertising rights in its schools and colleges. Pupils with a

penchant for Pepsi had better look elsewhere. Dr Pepper-Seven Up has

done a similar long-term deal in Texas. It has paid dollars 3.45 million

for ten years’ rights to this smaller district. The cash gives it

permission to advertise in gyms and sports stadiums and even on the

outside and roofs of school buildings.



And now the sports shoe manufacturers are making encouraging noises

about getting involved in what observers think could be a fast growing

and lucrative new advertising market. It’s the first time, even in the

commercially open US, that advertisers have been let anywhere near the

schoolyard without at least pretending to be offering some sort of

educational service. Channel One, which broadcasts schools programming

in the classroom, runs tailored ad breaks but children have to sit

through its output to reach them.



The schoolyard sponsorship deal looks like one American export that

might not be embraced so willingly elsewhere. Tentative moves in the UK

have so far been met with rejection and even hostility. ’I don’t think

there’s anything actually to stop it happening in the UK,’ says Maiden

Outdoor’s managing director, Francis Goodwin, ’but then I really think

and hope it’s not the sort of thing people over here would want.’



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