Advertising in Report Cards

Back in 2007, McDonalds tried an experiment that ended up blowing up in their face. They thought it would be a good idea to place ads on elementary school childrens report cards. It sounded brilliant to the ad executives. What is the one thing that parents are guaranteed to look at? Their childs report cards, of course. To put an even larger hook into the ads, Mickey Dees offered a free Happy Meal to all the kids in the Seminole County, Florida school district who made good grades. This way, not only would the kids come in and eat, but mom and dad would more than likely make it a family outing and they all would enjoy a meal.

Well, lots of parents felt that McDonalds had overstepped their bounds and tried to take them out of the equation when it came to rewarding kids for their good grades. No longer would it be up to mom and dad what reward was received. It was already there, right on the report card. I can just hear it. “Mom I made all A’s and B’s. When are we going to McDonalds so I can get my prize?” Enough parents complained, (around 2000) and McDonalds quickly removed the offensive advertising from the report card sleeves in early 2008.

Now it’s started again. This time it seems a bit better though. The non-profit organization, CollegeInvest, is paying the Jefferson County, Colorado school district $30,000 per year for 3 years for a small ad space on their students report cards. Again, it is targeted at elementary school students. Some people are asking if this is a good idea or not. The Jefferson County school district already has ads on their buses and in their stadiums. It was just a small step forward to put advertisements on report cards.

Before you start to criticize these ads, try to remember that schools all around the nation are facing serious budget shortfalls. There are school closings and teacher layoffs happening everywhere you look. So this school was thinking a little outside of the box. Why not advertise to help meet some of those budget shortfalls? As far as I’m concerned, as long as some common sense is used, it should be fine. I say it’s ok to advertise to parents that they need to start thinking about their childs college hopes and dreams. But when you start trying to shove Happy Meals down their throats, I say, hands off.


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