Can Advertising Make School Cool?

by Lauren Anderson

If the other honors floors of dorms at reputable colleges and universities are anything like mine, they are ripe with academic competition. Often, it remains unspoken. But the fact that none of us are willing to settle for anything less than our best, and sometimes our neighbor’s best, is pretty obvious. It may seem like a silly competition (for more on that please see: "Ranking High Schools: How Rank"), but most of us have spent our academic careers, from grade school to high school and now college, pursuing excellence.

But, the truth is not every student finds the same level of pride in outstanding academic performance. Some students even try to avoid it. A recent Newsweek article announced a plan to market school to students to encourage a positive attitude towards education. Joe Klein, chief of the New York City schools, is looking to advertise school as “cool.”

The advertising campaign includes celebrities and giveaways. About 15,000 middle school students, all from impoverished families, will get free cell phones. They will receive voicemails and text messages from celebrities and other successful adults in the workplace, explaining to them the importance of education and working hard in school. Teachers will be able to use these phones to remind students about their assignments. The students’ hard work and improvement, academically or in character, will be rewarded by free minutes on their cell phones and tickets to events.

The idea of advertising is often associated with obnoxious TV commercials that disrupt our favorite shows and the pop-ups that plague our internet navigation. But, in this case, advertising is working towards the greater good. There are few causes that are as unanimously supported as education. If this advertising campaign works well, it should be implemented in as many underprivileged school districts as possible. In my opinion, it is the best way to bring people out of poverty. Students should be encouraged to be successful in school through whatever means possible. If this includes free giveaways and the help of celebrities, then that’s what needs to happen and hopefully it will work.

(Photo by Losttrekker of Seattle, WA via Flickr, using a Creative Commons License.)

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