Archive for the ‘Advertising’ Category

The Third Way of public school education

All of the following began while reading Boing Boing. Daria fans will know this story.

Seminole County School District is, apparently, a very interesting place to find one’s education. Recently famous for signing a deal with McDonald’s that would have meant this was each child’s report card:


On the jackets, McDonald’s offered a free happy meal to any student with all A’s and B’s, two or fewer absences, or good behavior in a given academic quarter. Susan Pagan, an area parent, notified the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, and an all-out public-relations battle ensued by early December. According to the campaign, the school district received more than 2,000 calls of protest.

But get this:

Regina Klaers, a spokeswoman for the school district, said in December that the school approached McDonald’s for the sponsorship, not vice versa. For the 10 years prior to McDonald’s sponsorship, Pizza Hut had picked up the tab. During that time, Ms. Klaers said, there were no parental complaints.

One wonders what the report cards looked like, under the sponsorship of Pizza Hut. One wonders why they changed sponsors after 10 years and – critically – whether or not the school approached McDonalds or vice-versa is not the issue: who insisted upon this design for the report cards? The follow-up concern, of course, is whether the parents so concerned offered to work with the County, the School Board and the PTA to work out some other solution to the school’s cash-flow crisis (casino, anyone? But seriously).

Or whether the parents, the community, the local media, or anyone at all marched on the Local and State houses of government, demanding to know just where in hell their multiple local and state income and sales taxes were bloody going.

So, Seminole County schools, already small-time infamous, doubled-down:

Despite concern about pushing advertisements to a young captive audience, the Seminole County School Board agreed unanimously Tuesday to let a Massachusetts company put its daily radio show on school buses.

Bus Radio got the go-ahead to broadcast a program of rock music, FCAT lessons and advertisements to about 4,800 students on 53 buses in a trial run that will go through the end of the school year.

If district officials decide it is a success, they’ll let the company put its radios in the district’s fleet of buses serving more than 30,000 students.

Officials say the radio program will keep students busy so drivers can concentrate on the road. Critics contend that it forces ads on kids who have no alternative but to listen.

To help win support, Bus Radio has promised the district six minutes out of each broadcast hour for its own use. Officials plan short lessons to help students pass the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test.

The district also will get a share of the company’s advertising revenues, although that is expected to amount to only a few thousand dollars a year.

I started shutting down at the idea that there could even be a company such as Bus Radio – although it beats Clear Channel, I guess. It seems not to be offering much in the way of incentive to the school district, though – 6 minutes per hour, and a few thousand dollars per year? In fact, their website boasts an average of 4 minutes per hour advertising, 4 of PSA’s and 52 of music (and other programming). They also offer this:

Today’s AM/FM programming is not designed for kids. Inappropriate lyrics, adult- themed DJ banter, and commercials for products such as alcohol and R-rated movies are pervasive on the AM/FM dial. BusRadio offers a safe alternative to AM/FM radio with daily programming that targets three distinct audiences – elementary, middle and high school students.

BusRadio’s programming gives kids more of the music they want minus the offensive lyrics, with 1/3 the sponsorships per hour of AM/FM and positive safety messages and PSAs (see chart for hourly breakdown).

That cannot be the point, surely – am I an old man for thinking just don’t have that garbage playing? The schools could make more than that just by launching a website, calling it “We Need 10,000 Dollars” and waiting for the local Fox affiliate to notice it. They’d pull more than this per year just from the novelty and plain altruism.

Whipping out my calculator (okay, locating it over on the shelf and returning to the couch with it) and heading over to Mother Jones’ special report on campaign finance:


I work out that, between just the 4 front-runners across the two parties (actually only 3: McCain had no education money), as of the beginning of this year the education sector alone had contributed USD9.7m. By now half a billion has passed through the campaigns of all candidates combined. So as much as I like to give the Seminole County stick over their decision-making (quite justifiably), I can’t pretend it isn’t our priorities that put them in the position in the first place.

The Gap wants me to be admi(red).

Exams having been been written. I was in a/the Gap store, yesterday. Upon the purchase of two shirts (thermal something or other – although I doubt they’re actually thermal), total price USD32, the teller hands me (or, perhaps, my wife and I) two of these:

gap pins

Pins, related to their Gap (red) campaign.

Now: these pins are nominally on sale: USD1 each, money going to charity. Why did the teller give me two, for free? My assumption is that they would like me to wear them (no chance. I buy everything from ANZAC day pins to red noses to poppies, but I generally refuse to wear them) to push, virally, interest in (a) the Gap(red) campaign, and/or (b) the Gap, itself (since, if I’m wearing this pin on top of some other fashionable clothes, I may well give the impression that said clothes, or my entire ‘outfit’, are from the Gap. Also not likely to be the case).

I don’t flatter myself that I appeared, somehow, to be above the average in trendiness: I am a child of nineties and, most, days, you’d just point to me in the street and say, “I’ll bet he’s listening to Pearl Jam right now” (and you could well be right). No, I’m assuming this store – possibly every store – has been doing this as a practice.

My internal question, then, is this: is the Gap paying in that $1 to the charity? If they’re not, are they, instead, investing in me generating more than that $1, by getting more people interested in the pin, and prompting more people to buy it? What if I just prompt people to go to the Gap, where they buy a shirt and also get a pin for free?

I don’t know how much money this campaign is making. I see a fair few shirts, properly and cleverly logo-d, but I don’t recall seeing the jumpers, sneakers, etc. on anyone I’ve seen in the street.

My moral dilemma is slightly different. I was, at the point of purchase, mostly just interested in getting the hell out of the store. I didn’t stop to work all of this out with the poor bastard working for his hourly wage on a Saturday morning. I’m never going to wear these pins, so perhaps I should return them? Go to a random store and just give them 2 dollars for their campaign? Give 2 dollars to a random homeless person (something I do often enough, anyway)? By now I believe they’re gone, anyway – in fact I think they went out in the same bag with the old pieces from the filter on the turtle tank.

If I had more time and energy, I’d figure out whom to attempt to contact, to get my first question answered. I’m curious as to whether this is a part of some marketing campaign, or whether this store – and/or others – just wanted to get rid of a jar of pins that aren’t selling.

Hey, WordPress has advertising…kind of

Upon checking my blogstats this morning (it has become a weird obsession. I think I should be become a trader for a year to get finance and watching numbers out of my system), I noticed an outgoing link was an advertisement – but I don’t have advertisements. Nobody does, because WordPress won’t let you (this is how you know I still have hardly any readers. I’d cash in if I did).

Eventually I found this:

Since the ad test about 6 weeks ago there have been ads. Where? We very occassionally show Adsense (contextual text ads) on post and tag pages.

Why? To allow us to focus on free features in addition to paid and to offset costs of rapidly rising traffic.

There are two questions to think about if this comes as a surprise to you: Have I ever seen these ads? Have my readers? (Ask them!)

The ad code tries hard not to intrude or show ads to regular readers, which means a small percentage of page views. Apparently it works, since we haven’t gotten many feedbacks on them. Perhaps a better favorite would be “really, really unobtrusive ads.”

Even though you will probably never see an ad, if you did happen to come across one I don’t want it to be a surprise. The comments last time we discussed ads were fairly heated but I wanted to make sure everyone had accurate information.

What a neat system. Apparently advertising is still being discussed, but I get the impression the WordPress folk aren’t decided upon how they’d like them – who has control over advertising, etc. Which is fair enough. Personally I think whoever saw and followed that one advertisement should get a prize.