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ERIC Number: ED513814
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 48
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 132
Effectively Embedded: Schools and the Machinery of Modern Marketing. The Thirteenth Annual Report on Schoolhouse Commercializing Trends: 2009-2010
Molnar, Alex; Boninger, Faith; Wilkinson, Gary; Fogarty, Joseph; Geary, Sean
Commercialism in Education Research Unit
In the context of the last two years' recession, parents, teachers and administrators seem to increasingly welcome school-business "partnerships" that they hope may help ward off program cuts. Businesses encourage such arrangements because school-based marketing and advertising programs are perfectly poised to "brand" children at an early age: the school environment is relatively uncluttered, children are a captive and credulous audience, and marketing and advertising programs are normalized and lent legitimacy when they are embedded into the school context. Embedded advertising, in the forms of product placement and consumer events, is not new, but it has become the dominant advertising medium in 2010 and continues to expand. When advertising is embedded in a film, music video, or school activity, it is entwined with content that children seek out and engage with for extended periods of time. In schools, embedded advertising appears in such activities as corporate-sponsored contests, programs, lesson plans, and fundraising efforts. Students are generally unable to avoid these activities; moreover, they tend to assume that what their teachers and schools present to them is in their best interest. Adolescents, traditionally considered the least vulnerable of children, may in fact be more vulnerable than their younger counterparts because their developmental stage makes them more susceptible to embedded advertising that targets their identity formation and reduced impulse control. Most significantly, embedded advertising works--so much so that corporations are willing to spend billions of dollars on it annually. Often when stakeholders consider the pros and cons of bringing commercial programs into schools, they rationalize that children are already exposed to so much marketing and advertising in their out-of-school lives that a little more won't hurt them--particularly if it brings needed money into the schools. This report examines the psychology of embedded advertising to show how it does, in fact, both influence children's brand attitudes and harm them psychologically in a variety of ways. Advertising makes children want more, eat more, and think that their self-worth can and should come from commercial products. It heightens their insecurities, distorts their gender socialization, and displaces the development of values and activities other than those associated with commercialism. Its greatest advantage is that stakeholders, including the children themselves, discount its effectiveness. Despite the foothold that marketing and advertising currently have in schools, opposition this year in the United States, England and Ireland demonstrate that committed advocates can effectively challenge educators to evaluate and justify the commercial promotions they allow in their schools. Discussion and concern about the fairness of embedded advertising in entertainment contexts has led to talk of how to regulate it on television. Attention to and concern about embedded advertising should also inform conversations about the policies that enable school-based marketing programs and about the potential of those marketing programs to harm children. A list of websites is appended. (Contains 1 table and 132 notes.)
Commercialism in Education Research Unit. Available via: National Education Policy Center University of Colorado Boulder, CO 80309. Tel: 303-735-5290; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Consumers Union
Authoring Institution: Arizona State University, Commercialism in Education Research Unit
Identifiers - Location: Ireland; United Kingdom (England); United States