Schools and Commercialism

The TFAC gave special consideration to commercialism in the schools for two reasons. First,
children spend a considerable amount of their childhood in school settings, and because school
attendance is compulsory, children have little freedom to avoid any commercial content they are
exposed to in schools. Second, it is conceivable that commercial content delivered in schools may be
assumed to have the tacit endorsement of respected teachers and school officials, thereby enhancing
the effectiveness of the advertising.
Several recent analyses have summarized the extent and growth of advertising and other
marketing activities in schools, including an important study by the U.S. General Accounting Office.
Advertising and marketing takes several forms: direct advertising in school classrooms (via
advertiser-sponsored video or audio programming), indirect advertising (via corporate-sponsored
educational materials), product sales contracts (with soda and snack food companies), and schoolbased
corporate-sponsored marketing research. Several
of these advertising and marketing activities
have
been pursued aggressively by schools as a source
of additional revenue, but these activities
have
generally been greeted critically by
those outside school
systems.
What surprised the task force was the dearth of research on commercialism in the
schools. We found only two empirical studies that addressed in-school commercialism issues,
one a content analysis of ads and the other a study of the effect of school-based ads on productrelated
attitudes and preferences and materialistic
attitudes. Given the widespread nature of
these
advertising practices, along with their potential
impact on consumer attitudes and behaviors
and
students’ educational attitudes and achievement, it
is perplexing that so little research has………

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