Should Advertisers Have a Moral Responsibility?

Mobile advertising is everywhere. When we leave our homes we come into contact with billboards, branded trucks and busses covered with ads. In 1990, Colorado became the first state to allow school bus advertisements. Since that time, the practice of school bus advertising has spread to a number of states. Some states already allow advertising inside of school busses as well. As the popularity continues to spreads the controversy surrounding the practice does as well. Critics say that exposing impressionable young children to ads that appear to be endorsed by their educators is problematic.

According to a study by Alpha Media, a Dallas based company that manages ads on 3,000 school buses in Texas and Arizona, districts with 250 buses can expect to generate about $1 million in four years from selling exterior bus space to advertisers. Although ads displaying profanity, alcohol, tobacco and adult content are prohibited, there are still ads being presented that are unfavorable to impressionable youth.

School aged children are young and impressionable, and school bus ads present exposure to advertising that may not be appropriate for children. Although the amount of exposure and residual monetary gain is clear, these advertisements have clear influence over the children who come into contact with them each day. The two main issues being raised in opposition to school bus ads are the potential safety risk the ads could present by distracting drivers as well as the chance that children will interpret ads as an extension of their education systems.

Although many school districts incorporate healthier nutrition and lunch programs, junk food ads are on the side of school busses. Such contradictions confuse youth. Thus we must consider if school bus ads have the potential to do more harm than good.

Have advertisers and state governments gone too far in moving forward with school bus ad campaigns or should this practice be seen as simply another avenue to expand marketing efforts, increase visibility and maximize revenue?

To share with us your thoughts or learn more about different modes of advertising and reaching your target market, contact us on Facebook at Weise Communications and follow @Weise_Ideas on Twitter.

6 Responses to “Should Advertisers Have a Moral Responsibility?”

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