Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Product branding in my classroom

I posted this on my MES 597 discussion board as a response to a paper (Brighouses' "Channel One, the Anti Commerical Principle..."). I have pretty strong feelings about consumerism, mostly because I feel I have been brainwashed to be a spender and not a saver. Don't worry I got my RRSP's in on time! Here's the deal...

It took me a while to finally find advertisements at my school. Mostly because I'm lazy and not so much because they aren't there. The first one that hit me was the Dell badge on the front of all 30 of our computer lab towers. Apparently they are starting to be swiped by students though. I guess Dell is the new Mercedes Benz... ?

We have labels on all of our TVs but in my classroom they are a bit out of sight to be noticed.

The BIG one hit me last Tuesday when the parent council brought in Pancakes for Shrove Tuesday. My brother in law has a shirt which has two cartoon stick figure facing each other inside of a circle. The first is saying “I’m a consumer @#$%@!” and the second says while pumping his arm is saying “And how!” That is how I felt on Tuesday of last week.

The pancakes came from the Golden Arches. They all came packaged in Styrofoam containers (with the big M on it), inside of MacDonald's paper bags (more M), inside of Big (computer box sized) cardboard boxes (seriously big MacDonald's emblems on these). The parents went around handing out the pancakes, syrup (golden arches), napkins (embossed arches), butter (more arches), and cutlery (no arches?). Before students had finished their food they each had a yellow pencil (arches) and stickers (no arches [just kidding!!]). The parent council had to pay to bring in advertising.

It broke my heart because I was trying to teach my students that Shrove Tuesday is about using up everything that would spoil during the 40 days of Lent. It is a preparation for Lent. Instead as an object lesson they were given hot cakes and a Super sized portion of branding.

I quickly disposed of all of the M's and took the pencils away. You're going to think I'm a total loony but I sharpened off all the Arches. I'm running a socialist experiment right now with my students. I'm trying to have them share pencils instead of hoarding them (they will run out eventually you know). You can send me money if you would like to join the Communist Pencil Party, we're starting to look for campaigners for the next election.

I'm a huge fan of Supersize me. I don't by any means think the test in the movie was a fair test I still buy into the philosophy they were selling. We all need to be conscious of the advertising and how it is programming us. (I won't rant I promise!) I have this whole rant about how media is forcing youth to grow up so that they can become consumers earlier. Drive that market! Drive!

As you can tell from my actions I think that this form of advertising is wrong. I think that it distracted from the message of Shrove Tuesday and Lent. I also feel that it put me in a position as a teacher where students might think I was approving of MacDonald’s. They know that I don’t approve.

No comments: