Friday, June 09, 2006

Marketing to Kids

I have really mixed feelings on this one. A new company, BusRadio , has come up with a new way to target advertising to kids. They have a national radio show that is only broadcast on specially equipped school buses. They will provide the radios free to school districts or bus companies. Six minutes of every hour will be public service announcements and eight minutes will be dedicated to "Corporate Sponsorships." The rest of each hour will be taken up by music, news and contests.

Apparently they have two websites, one targeted at consumers and one targeted at advertisers that I cannot access. I found information about the site that I can't access here and here.

Their selling point that works for me is that their content will be age appropriate which is often hard to find on the FM band. Currently I have only two radio stations that I will play for my middle school / high school age kids, one is a country station that they will sometimes tolerate and the other is a mix of just about everything that the kids still aren’t crazy about. This second station sometimes does cross the line when it comes to what I feel is appropriate content for middle schoolers. My younger kids listen to Radio Disney, which is what BusRadio seems to want to be for the teen group.

Their main selling point is that it will make buses safer. This is pure bunk. Most of us turn down the radio if the kids get too loud, it does not matter whether it is BusRadio or a regular FM station. If a driver is good at what they do AND has the support of the school administration to back them up the radio is irrelevant. On the company’s website they show a student holding a cell phone. If they are having contests they probably win by calling in. If cell phones are involved they loose my vote by default. Cell phones are banned on my bus; to be taken out and used only with my prior permission or in an emergency. I am neither willing nor able to monitor their use or misuse.

The FM radio that we listen to now has ads that the kids hear. I think it bothers me that BusRadio’s ads will be very targeted. Of course we let the soda companies pay for the right to have their products in the schools. Will we eventually have poster ads above the windows like on a metro bus? We will start selling Billy Fuccillo type ads on the outside of the buses?

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