British Teachers Bash Brands for In-School Promos

23 April 2003

In-school campaigns by such global brands as Cadbury and PepsiCo will have a adverse effect on the health of children, teachers warned Tuesday.

The annual conference of the National Union of Teachers heard delegate after delegate criticize the growing commercialization within schools. Said one, Ian Thompson from Gloucestershire: “It is nothing more than marketing to our children in the name of education. It involves selling saturated rubbish to the people we teach.”

The ‘saturated rubbish’ to which he referred is PepsiCo brand Walkers Crisps, currently running a ‘Books for Schools’ promotion.

There were equally unkind words for a sports campaign run under the banner of chocolate-maker Cadbury, which is offering to spend £9 million ($14.17m; €12.92m) on sports equipment for schools – if students and their parent amass enough tokens from Cadbury brands.

Warns teacher Peter Bishop, a member of the NUT executive: “There will be 160 million chocolate bars carrying tokens. That's a frightening prospect for schools.”

The chocolatier, however, insists that kids’ calorie intake has not risen; the fall-off in exercise levels is the problem it aims to redress.

But Coventry-based teacher Chris Wilkin remains sceptical at Cadbury’s claimed largesse: “[It] could give the schools money through the setting up of community funds. It is difficult for children not to participate, as parents and children are under pressure to collect vouchers.”

The conference voted in favour of a motion from the union’s executive to sponsor teaching materials encouraging children to question the messages of advertising and to campaign for a minimum of ninety minutes of physical exercise per week for all children.

It also unanimously passed a motion condemning the commercialisation of schools.

Data sourced from: BBC Online Business News (UK); additional content by WARC staff