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Corporations Use Schools to Market to Kids

Schools are becoming an integral part of the corporate marketing plan, with messages aimed at children and their buying parents, a report released this fall indicates.

"Commercial activities now shape the structure of the school day, influence the content of the school curriculum, and determine whether children have access to a variety of technologies," said Alex Molnar, the director of the Center for the Analysis of Commercialism in Education at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Education.

The center's third annual report on schoolhouse commercialism provides evidence of an increase in school-based marketing to children.

"The effort to more fully integrate the schoolhouse into corporate marketing plans by securing control over as many school-based advertising media as possible may well be the trend to watch over the next decade," Molnar said. "If so, we can expect schools to serve as launch pads for marketing campaigns that resemble high-profile movie releases, complete with multiple tie-ins for a variety of products and services aimed at children and their families."

The report, called "Commercialism@School.com," shows technology is broadening the opportunities for businesses to engage in commercial activities in school, and is increasing the reach of school-based activities to the home.

For example, free Web sites offered by some companies to schools increase parental awareness of school activities but also increase advertising aimed at parents for products such as financial services or real estate.

The report is available online at:
www.uwm.edu/Dept/CACE/documents/cace-00-02.htm.

Posted October 10, 2000

Education News