July 27 2000

Advertising in schools

The German weeky newspaper Die Zeit has two articles about advertising in schools today. One is about German schools that are thinking about allowing advertising in schools, and the other reports about schools in the USA, where advertising is already allowed. They mentioned the ‘Coke Incident’ in 1998, and I have to admit I can’t believe this really happened. A highschool senior was suspended from school for wearing a Pepsi shirt on the schools ‘Coke Day’. Here’s an article about it: Coke Day prank fizzles for Pepsi-loving high school senior
. Not only do I not get the idea of a ‘Coke Day’, I can’t believe a student can be punished for just wearing a shirt that says ‘Pepsi’.

Could someone please explain this to me?

Garret got the discussion going. Join in and share your thoughts!

Werbung in der Schule

Dazu gab’s heute im Wissen der Zeit zwei Artikel. Einer ist online verfügbar:

Werber auf Schülerjagd.

Der andere Artikel trägt die Überschrift “Ernährungslehre mit McDonalds” (Zeit vom 27. Juli 2000, Seite 32). Besonders erschreckt hat mich der “Coke Incident”:

“[W]ie groß der Einfluss der Wirtschaft in amerikanischen Schulen sein kann, demonstrierte schließlich der ‘Coke Incident’ im März 1998. Damals wurde ein Oberstufler in Georgia zeitweise vom Unterricht ausgeschlossen, weil er am ‘Coca Cola Day’ seiner Highschool ein Pepsi-Hemd trug. Der Teenager habe sich respektlos verhalten, argumentierte die Schulleitung.”

Hallo? ‘Coca Cola Day’?!?

Man findet doch tatsächlich alles im Internet. Hier ist ein Artikel über den ‘Coke Incident’: Coke Day prank fizzles for Pepsi-loving high school senior.

Erschreckend finde ich, daß die Schulleitung den Unterrichtsausschluß damit begründete, daß der Schüler keinen Respekt vor Coca Cola gezeigt habe. Die Firma war durch den regionalen Präsidenten vertreten, und der ‘Coca Cola Day’ wurde von der Schule ausgerichtet, weil sie einen Preis von US$ 500 gewinnen wollte, den Coca Cola an die Schule vergeben wollte, die die beste Idee hätte, wie man Werbe-Gutscheine an die Schüler verteilt.

Nicht nur, daß es überhaupt so einen Wettbewerb gibt und tatsächlich Schulen daran teilnehmen – es gibt dafür nur 500 Mäuse? Ist das nicht ein bißchen wenig für die ganze Werbung, die die Schule für Coca Cola macht?

Housekeeping help from slugs

Tired of cleaning the house? Slugs will do the job, claims the author of this New Scientist article: Good Housekeeping. Yuck!

Eskimos, snow and earthquakes

David says he was the one with the Eskimos, in this message. And he says Californians have many different words for earthquakes. Germans do not, but we don’t have many earthquakes either, at least not significant ones.

If you want to know about earthquakes, here’s the Near Real Time Earthquake List of the National Earthquake Information Center / World Data Center for Seismology, Denver. The list shows quakes all over the world and has a map, too.

I didn’t think anyone would notice. But she did.

15 thoughts on “July 27 2000

  1. garret p vreeland

    andrea, i can’t speak for everyone, but i can relate a couple of experiences to help you understand this.

    1. many suburban areas (like princeton where i grew up) are gradually becoming ‘bedroom communities’ … places where people move to in order to escape metropolitan areas like new york city and philadelphia. mass transit is close by. so, in the late 80’s we had a huge influx of people … mostly young families … completely change the demographics of the area. schools had to be built; school taxes went through the ceiling (for instance, plainsboro built at least FOUR in their municipality, from the three they originally had; more may be necessary). real estate taxes are as high as mortgage payments in these areas; add the school tax … ouch. so, in this scenario, a school system gets approached by coke or pepsi (or other advertisers), bearing financial incentives … a great deal! goes up for vote with the local school board (all looking to rise politically) … and gets approved. economics, pure and simple … saves taxpayer dollars. the kids get pelted on tv when they’re home anyway; what difference could it possibly make? parents are thrilled; less money out of their pocket.

    2. here in santa fe, there was a big to-do about coke and pepsi machines being put in the schools. the companies are competing; offering monetary ‘perks’ to the schools in order to get a monopoly on the brand of soda in the schools. bidding back and forth! santa fe was putting a limit; the machines could only be in teacher lounges, or outside the school. coke and pepsi didn’t especially like that. they wanted direct advertising exposure to the kids; school-sanctioned branding. i think i posted it in my weblog; you can do a search and find it.

    there was an attempt to port advertising via closed-circuit television to schools, under the guise of ‘educational television’ … it was called ‘channel one’. wait, i found it. i can’t believe it! it’s still in business?!!!

    anyway. there has also been talk of franchising out school lunches to the chains such as mcdonalds and burger king. can’t find any links about it; maybe someone else can.

    it’s horrible. it’ll take federal intervention to stop it. i don’t know if there are any bills pending; maybe someone else can chime in.

  2. Andrea Frick

    Thanks, Garret. It’s good to hear there are opponents to advertising in school, too.

    I understand that advertising is a way to reduce taxes and provide schools with the necessary funds, but I doubt it’s the right way.

    Either in the article in the ‘Zeit’ or the one I pointed to said it was right that kids were heavily influenced by advertising anyway (on TV etc.), but school is an environment that creates a certain confidence.
    Students should have confidence in their teachers and what they say in school. Thus, advertising has a much stronger effect on students in school than elsewhere.

    Also, school should teach students to judge for themselves and be critical; this seems impossible if the school is not even allowed to sell different brands of soft drinks, or students to wear a shirt with the wrong name on it on ‘Coke Day’.

    I think German schools are not allowed to sell “unhealthy food” at all, e.g. soft drinks, candy bars and such, because school should not support the students’ unhealthy eating habits. At least this was the case while I was in school. It’s totally impossible in Germany to put up soft drink vending machines or franchising school lunches, and frankly, these thoughts give me the shivers! It’s bad enough kids eat and drink the stuff in their free time, so schools should try to teach them about healthy food instead of ‘selling their souls’ to Pepsi or Burger King or whoever.

    <cynicism> But if the schools are in need of money so badly, why not put up cigarette vending machines, too? Not much unhealthier than a daily lunch of burgers, fries and cola. Schools could also introduce school uniforms: Levis jeans, Gap shirts, Nike shoes. How’d that be? </cynicism>

  3. garret p vreeland

    sorry … i was running off to a meeting when i wrote that entry; i didn’t exactly answer your question. in fact, i think i totally missed your point. my apologies.

    why did they suspend the child? because he threatened to destroy a source of revenue.

    there are dozens of places on line, schools that list their lunch menus. from a couple i’ve seen: pizza, hamburgers, hot dogs, ‘grape creme slush’ (shudder) … one wonders what happened to the peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich. americans have a fixation on a ‘hot lunch’, as if that’s somehow ‘better.’ with the number of overweight children and adults around, a ‘cold salad’ would be far healthier …

    your <cynicism> remark is right on. cigarette machines! that’d get the parents excited.

  4. Andrea Frick

    No, you didn’t miss my point. I was wondering about the whole thing – advertising in schools, selling only one brand of cola etc. What I really needed was reassurance that not every American thinks Coke machines in schools are heaven because they decrease the taxes.

    I found your entry about the Coke vs. Pepsi battle in Santa Fe schools here, but the link to the article seems not to be working any more…

    When I was on that student exchange in the USA, I was also surprised (shocked!) about the lunch that was provided by the school cafeteria. The school had one ‘normal’ dish that changed every day, but burger/fries, pizza and burrito every day. Outside the cafeteria, however, sandwiches were sold. I always preferred those…

    By the way, Germans have a fixation on ‘hot lunch’ as well, but we usually eat cold dinner. Lunch is the main meal of the day – or you could say we have dinner at lunchtime. Whatever. And luckily, school’s normally out at about 1 pm, so the kids go home and eat there. No chance for any fast food chains to try to take over German school cafeterias.

  5. Tyler Pruett

    The same is true of sponsorships at the university level. Although, I’ve never seen a university prostitute itself to the level that the high school in the article mentions. But, it’s probably happened, sigh… At New Mexico State University, my employer, (that’s four hours south of Santa Fe from Garret if I average 80 miles an hour) we have a contract with Pepsi. So no Coke allowed on campus. Maybe it’s only a matter of time before we have a Pepsi day…

    Tyler Pruett

  6. Rick Saenz

    why did they suspend the child? because he threatened to destroy a source of revenue.

    This is probably too cynical. More likely they suspended him for trying to embarass the school with his prank, which was clearly his intent. Whether or not a school ought to be able to suspend a student for embarassing it is a separate question, but students are often suspended for far less.

  7. Andrea Frick

    why did they suspend the child? because he threatened to destroy a source of revenue.

    A very positive guess would be that he wore the Pepsi shirt in order to show that he understood how much the school depended on Coca Cola, and that he disapproved of that. But that’s only a guess.

    Maybe he had no intention at all, except for doing something others don’t do and thus getting attention.

  8. Scott Hanson

    By the way, Germans have a fixation on ‘hot lunch’ as well, but we usually eat cold dinner. Lunch is the main
    meal of the day – or you could say we have dinner at lunchtime. Whatever. And luckily, school’s normally out at
    about 1 pm, so the kids go home and eat there.

    And if both parents have careers, where do the kids eat then?

  9. Andrea Frick

    I think it’s pretty sad that schools have to do these things because they don’t get enough money from the government.

    I wonder whether university students would participate in a ‘Coke Day’ or ‘Pepsi Day’ or whatever company happens to sponsor the university. They should be old enough to think for themselves and decide whether they want this kind of sponsorship or not. They are not as easily influenced by advertisements as highschool kids – at least I hope they are not.

    I’m sure no university student in Germany would participate in such a thing, but maybe that’s different from the US. (We talked about this a while ago. Someone pointed out that the colleges in the US were to act “in loco parentes”, while German universities consider their students as independent grown-ups.)

    While I was studying in Hanover, there was the idea to find sponsors so they could have longer opening hours for the library. Something like “Thanks to XY for keeping the library open from 6 to 9 pm on weekday nights!” The sponsor would only put up a billboard, no vending machines or cafeteria franchising.

    But it was never done because people objected to the university being dependent on sponsors.

  10. Andrea Frick

    Yeah, that’s right. I was thinking about adding that going home does not guarantee the kids get something healthy for lunch, but I thought my posting would be too off-topic then.

    I guess it depends on the family. For example, Andrés parents both work. When he and his sister came home from school, they would cook for themselves or reheat a pre-cooked meal or something from the previous day.

    My mother is a full-time Hausfrau, and my father has a well-paid job on which he only has to work in the mornings : he’s a teacher. So I grew up with three family meals a day, seven days a week. And the food was healthy. So I was one of the lucky kids.

    I suppose that many kids come home while their parents are still working and have to care for themselves. Some will go and eat hamburgers and fries every day, that’s for sure. And of course that’s even worse than eating burgers and fries at school, where they are at least looked after in the afternoons.

    Some people discuss the idea of afternoon school and lunch at school because more and more mothers are working, so nobody has time for the children in the afternoons. Of course this is a good idea, and every family should have the possibility to send their children to a school where they are cared for while the parents work. I know this is not yet real in Germany. Except for a few full-day schools and some boarding schools that offer lunch and help with homework to external students (like the school I went to), the parents are on their own.

    But school lunch doesn’t have to be unhealthy food!

  11. garret p vreeland

    you’re right, “source of revenue” was too harsh. they weren’t sponsoring scholarships or anything, just “… an event school officials crafted in an attempt to win a $500 contest run by the Coca-Cola Bottling Co.” and, it was only a *chance*, at that.

    what bothers me is using kids to come up with marketing schemes for coke. it’s a fabulous return on investment; normally they have to get focus groups to test strategies like this.

    i also wonder if there’s any precedent for getting parental permission before doing this kind of thing, or if the school administrator’s o.k. is sufficient. i have no idea.

  12. garret p vreeland

    yes, unfortunately when i link to the santa fe new mexican, they’re using a lasso/filemaker combo that has *daily* link rot. an awful system. i’ve wanted to bid on their business for a while.

    maybe when manila can do multiple columns in news items, i can try … (grin) …

    i can’t find the link about santa fe through their search engine, but i found albuquerque … it’s bad enough:

    albuquerque votes for pepsi.

    oh, and they do mention santa fe. multiple vendors? good. we keep control over where the machines go … thank goodness. the sheer amount of money they’re talking is guaranteed to knock you back on your heels … for a hard-up school system, this kind of deal is *very* hard to turn down.

  13. Scott Hanson

    Yeah, my comment was off-topic too, but your remark reminded me of one of my pet peeves about Germany: that society expects mothers to stay at home and not have a career. But that has really nothing to do with school nutrition.

    Goverment-subsidized school lunches in the US were more a way for the government to get rid of surplus agricultural products than as a serious attempt to improve nutrition for school children. Now that farm policy has been (somewhat) reformed, it’s somehow appropriate that Coke/Pepsi/McDonalds/Burger King are stepping into the void. Guten appetit!

  14. Andrea Frick

    Goverment-subsidized school lunches in the US were more a way for the government to get rid of surplus agricultural products than as a serious attempt to improve nutrition for school children. Now that farm policy has been (somewhat) reformed, it’s somehow appropriate that Coke/Pepsi/McDonalds/Burger King are stepping into the void.

    School lunch to get rid of surplus production? How does that work? Do the kids eat more because they eat at school?

  15. Scott Hanson

    Pardon me… in my cynisism I forgot to explain.

    Back in the 70s and 80s (maybe still today), the US government used to support prices for certain farm commodities by setting a minimum price… effectively agreeing to always buy at that price no matter what the market price was. The US government thus built up huge stockpiles of grain and dairy products.

    Grain has a long shelf life and can be shipped long distances (for example, for bargain prices to the Soviet Union) but dairy products have to be disposed of rather quickly. One way was through subsidized school lunches. Those meals had a lot of milk and cheese in them!

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