The Advertising Association has written to both the Labour and
Conservative Parties in a bid to extricate the ad industry from the
damaging row over proposals to allow advertising into schools.
In letters to Cheryl Gillan, the junior education minister, and Nigel
Griffiths, Labour’s consumer affairs spokesman, Andrew Brown, the
Advertising Association’s director-general, makes it clear that the plan
is not an industry initiative. The industry neither wants nor needs such
a scheme, he tells them.
Brown’s action follows consultations with a number of the AA’s members,
including the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, the
Incorporated Society of British Advertisers and various poster
contractors, all of whom have come out against the idea.
The issue came under the national spotlight last week with the news that
an Essex-based marketing company was approaching secondary schools,
colleges and universities offering them the chance to make money by
selling ad space in classrooms and corridors (Campaign, 12 July).
The disclosure provoked an outcry from teaching unions, parent and
consumer groups, while Griffiths urged the Advertising Standards
Authority to take action.
Now ad industry leaders are alarmed that they have been cast as the
villains in the backlash against the idea.
Brown said: ‘I wanted to correct the impression that the industry is
pressing for it. The responsibility for commercial activity within
schools must rest with head teachers, governors and parents and we
wouldn’t wish to do anything to undermine them.’
He is also pressing Gillan to clarify the Government’s position on
whether or not schools should be allowed to accept advertising.
Meanwhile, mystery surrounds Imagination for School Media Marketing, the
company whose activities sparked the row. The AA says its efforts to
track down the company have failed and its name appears on no membership
lists of any of its affiliated organisations.