Advertising on School Buses

Upon trying to think of something interesting to write about for my blog this week I remembered an article I read last spring that really got me thinking. I know the article is a little dated, but it is still a controversial issue in American education and something that I find really interesting as well. April 18th’s article from the Denver Post looks at what some schools districts are doing to bring in more money for their schools.

According to the article, Adams 12 started putting advertisements on their school buses in March and school buses in Greeley have been carrying ads for over a year now. Districts need to ensure that the advertisements they use met state regulations on size and placement and must find designers and vendors themselves. Popularity has increased in advertising lately, but this is nothing new to Colorado; Colorado wrote regulations allowing ads in 1993. Despite concerns about the appropriateness of the ads, “Colorado does not allow advertising inside of the bus; this is just like any other transportation advertising,” said Clifford, Spot on Solutions’ chief marketing officer. “Though we still keep to family-friendly messages, it’s not geared toward the children — it’s the motorists that see the buses.” The article ends by stating that Greeley School District 6 has earned $1,280 this school year through bus advertising.

Wow, that article makes all sound so easy and great right? I happened to go down and look through some of the comments after reading this article the second time through though, and not everyone thinks bus advertising is all sunshine and rainbows. One reader wrote…

This whole idea is WRONG and stupid!! People need to pay attention when driving in the area of a School bus, not reading the ads on one. That is the whole idea of painting them School Bus yellow, so the stand out.

Although the placement of the advertisement must be in adherence with safety laws so that it doesn’t inhibit the whole “yellow school bus” look, it doesn’t change the fact that there is writing and images on the side. People will end up looking at the ads instead of looking at what they should be looking at: the road. Most accidents occur because people get distracted and what’s more distracting than a huge advertisement on the side of a bright yellow school bus, forget about the little kids crossing the street. Another reader questions…

How else do you expect capitalists to fund their education systems and indoctrination programs?

Maybe a little over dramatic, but I had a similar response to using transportation provided by schools for young children to promote products. America is one of the only countries which allows companies to market directly to children. It’s one thing when companies advertise to children on television. Just don’t let your children watch that channel. But when advertising is displayed on kids’ form of transportation it’s hard to escape it. To me, it brings up a sort of ethical question; where do you draw the line? Advertising on buses could turn into corporations funding education in its entirety. This is just opening the doorway… I mean what are we trying to teach our kids in school? Reading, writing, and math, or how to be little consumers?

But when it comes down to it, bus advertising is generating money, and money is something all schools could use.


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