You’ll be glad to know our local school district has figured out a new way to raise funds. Here’s what we’ve had traditionally: bake sales, book fairs, Papa John’s Night, McTeacher Night (yes, exactly what you're thinking: teachers flipping burgers at Mickey D’s), popcorn sales, wrapping paper sales (?!), cookie dough sales and 5k’s. Now, we’ve gone straight for advertising. On the school bus. Bank One, it would seem, sponsors the route around our neighborhood. I know this because they have a lovely blue and white sign painted directly on the yellow school bus.
Now, I could say that advertising has no place in a public school system. I could make the case that children believe what they read/hear/see, and so we ought to keep that out of the realm of the place where they get most of their indoctrination: schools. I could argue that once we allow corporations into the school systems, we’ll be well on our way to imbedded advertising, which is so sneaky, so under-the-radar that kids won’t pick up on it. They’ll only know that Mrs. Clementine really loves her double lattes from Starbucks and Mr. Roadrunner only wears Nike. But I’m not going to go into any of that.
Here’s what I think: if they were smart, they’d get advertising that the parents really care about. Honestly, are you going to switch to Bank One because they painted a sign on the bus? No, you’re going to think that’s the stupidest thing the banking system has done. Well, that and the whole destruction of the economy thing.
So, we don’t care about banks on buses. But picture this: you’ve just dropped Jimmy and Janie off, you’ve got a million errands to run and somehow you’ve got to find time to get to the grocery store. If the bus reminds you that Albertson’s offers home delivery and you can shop in your ratty bathrobe, you might take them up on the offer. Or, if you’ve had a stressful morning because Christie found a new zit and Christopher just mentioned that his science fair project appeared to be taking over the fridge, and the bus reminds you that your local spa offers ½ hour get-away-from-it-all massages with Michel, you might ignore the growing thing in your GE and head for the spa. Or what about babysitters? Picture an ad for Nanny McPhee, English Governess Extraordinaire, with references, available at a moment’s notice. You might spontaneously hire her to take the baby so you can spend the day at the spa while Albertson’s delivers the groceries. Things people care about, that’s all I’m sayin’.
Besides, should banks really be spending money on advertising right now? Shouldn’t they be doing something larger, like shoring up failing financial institutions? Under my mattress has never looked so safe.