How would you feel if your time as a high school student came complete with snazzy advertisements? Would you be okay with walking down the hallways (or knowing that your high school student was walking down the hallways) while being exposed to company advertising all over the lockers? This situation isn’t hypothetical: Locker advertisements are already a reality and their popularity is rumored to spread quickly!
I was shocked when I read a brandchannel article outlining this debate, not because I was offended but because I was taken off guard. But before you express your outrage at the idea of locker advertisements, take a look at the perks. Locker “billboards” could bring in a ton of much-needed funding for public schools because many advertisers are willing to pay good money for the exposure. According to the brandchannel article, the ads will generate up to $200,000 in revenue each year. Does this mean that participating public schools are selling out, or are they simply doing it for the greater good of student education?
I haven’t made up my mind about locker ad space yet. Even though my moral senses are tingling, I can see both sides. Advertisements seem out of place on school property, especially to the extent they’re featured in this case (click on the “brandchannel article” link in the paragraph above to view a picture of the ad-splashed lockers). However, they are bringing home the much-needed bacon for public schools. It’s hard to believe that locker ads would corrupt youth any more so than the commercials or advertisements they’re already exposed to on a daily basis, but does that make it okay? The problem lies with morality and whether or not public schools should accept money in exchange for ad space in the first place.
What’s the alternative to in-school advertising of this caliber? I’m no marketing god, but I can think of a technique or two that would benefit both advertisers and schools without causing this much controversy. First, interested advertisers could simply donate money or equipment to schools in exchange for a “donated by” mention like a plaque. Second, advertisers could purchase custom school supplies like pens, pencils, rulers, calculators, book covers, mini staplers, or spiral notebooks and put their logos on them. (Not in an overly-commercialized way that says “buy our stuff,” but in a “these were kindly donated by” kind of way). Third, advertisers could offer scholarships to students and attach their company names to them (for example: the “Smith Company Scholarship”); this would allow companies to advertise the scholarship, positively promote their brands, and actually BENEFIT students without resorting to locker ads. But I suppose those methods lack the flash and glitz that brightly-painted lockers offer!
Which brings me to my final question: Why can’t corporations donate money to schools out of the goodness of their hearts and skip the blatant locker billboards? I can’t help but gain respect for a company that donates money to good causes – isn’t that enough good exposure for the brand? The response would be enormous (and positive) and the press release alone could generate new business. Mark Zuckerberg did it and received recognition and praise, so other big names should have no problem following suit. But alas…what do I know?
It was only a matter of time before in-school advertising like this became a valid option for school systems! I can’t believe that I didn’t see it sooner. What are your thoughts?