Over the past several years, some schools have started to embrace advertising in an effort to replace lost funds from the government. However, those schools are in the minority. I believe that there are ways to create partnerships both with and without non-profits that can help fix the health and wellness problem our children have via their time in school.
I don’t believe every single brand is a right fit for schools. Food and beverage brands that fall outside the new USDA guidelines should be prohibited. However, healthy food brands, active lifestyle brands, positive image brands for kids all make a lot of sense for three specific reasons.
The most important factor is controlling which messages are in front of the children for 8 hours a day. Parents are increasingly upset about what they perceive to be QSR, Soda and Candy companies targeting their children. What if for 8 hours a day every message the children see and hear is focused on healthy foods and active lifestyle? In the past it didn’t make sense because the media landscape really had no access to kids during their day. That has changed. Most children have phones where they can get to Facebook, Twitter and countless other online resources saturated by brand messaging. Celebrities are paid good money to tweet about brands. So kids are no longer insulated during their days. The best way to counteract this is helping the brands you want in front of your kids get there with the healthy and positive messaging you see as helping them.
The second point is completely monetarily based. Given the United States fiscal climate and the total dysfunctional way the Congress handles our business, it’s safe to say that our schools won’t be receiving any help from them anytime soon. To date, the only way schools have been able to raise funds are through vending machines and fundraisers. Traditionally, both of these avenues haven’t provided the most healthy products for our children. If you want your kids to be active and eat healthy then why not let the brands associated with active and healthy lifestyles underwrite non-profits that go directly into schools and provide professional development on integrating physical activity into core subjects. Maybe you can let them advertise inside an online system like HOPSports which is already being used in schools across the country to get kids moving. HOPS has a revenue sharing program with the schools so not only does it help get the system in the schools, but it gives the school money. Sports teams and art afterschool teams which have increasingly become pay for play. Direct access help the fruit and vegetable companies gain more exposure to children without having to worry about the incredibly expensive costs associated with traditional media?