September 24 — 11:00 pm, 2003

Marketing to a captive audience

To the editors:

Every parent is aware of how successful corporations are at marketing to children. When children enter stores, they are immediately drawn to the colorful displays of their favorite characters pitching their favorite toys. Parents have always served as the guardians of their children’s purchasing habits.

But corporations today are trying to bypass parents’ protective eye by appealing to children at locations where children are a captive audience, but there are no parents around – in our schools.

Schools are subjecting children to advertising and product placement in search of dollars to make up for budget cuts.

Channel 1 is a television news program shown in many schools. In exchange for televisions and cable connections, students must watch Channel 1 and any corporation that chooses to advertise on it. Children not old enough to evaluate an advertisement become victims of the advertising.

Coke and Pepsi have sought lucrative deals with the schools in order to sell more products. John Alm, CEO of Coca Cola, has stated, "The school system is where you build brand loyalty."

Schools are where children are sent to obtain an education. The drive to make a profit should not replace classroom instruction. The principle that corporate America can tell teachers what to do and when to do it is not a principle conducive to good education.

Our schools now need parental involvement to assist administrators in making decisions that will result in positive educational outcomes.

Keith Newman

Philadelphia, PA

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