The European Commission is ready to open the gates of the
Continent’s schools to advertisers.
An EC-funded study has suggested that head teachers should be allowed to
authorise a limited amount of advertising, particularly sponsored
learning materials, into schools.
Carefully selected advertising would help bridge the gap between schools
and the commercial world, according to the report which was based on
surveys carried out in Britain, France and Belgium.
The study provoked alarm among industry lobbyists when it was launched
last year amid fears it would be used as an excuse for further
restrictions on marketing to children. The EC probe included poster
sites, sponsored materials, vending machines, audio-visual aids,
sponsored company visits and other means of introducing products into
classrooms. It is being seen as the precursor to a European code of
practice to regulate sponsorship in schools.
Ad industry representatives, concerned about the close relationship
between EC policy makers and special interest groups, had been worried
the survey would provide ammunition for those urging tougher
restrictions on ads directed at children.
In Britain, attempts to introduce advertising into schools have so far
met with little success and advertisers have shown no enthusiasm for a
scheme proposed by the Essex-based Imagination for School Media
Andrew Brown, the Advertising Association’s director-general, insisted
it was too early to know if the study’s recommendation signalled a
softening of attitudes about advertising to children.
’We can draw a crumb of comfort from it ,’ he said. ’Our view is that
advertising should only be allowed in schools as long as parents,
teachers and governors are happy about it.’