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Thursday, 17 July 2003


In an article in the New York Times reminiscent of certain parts of Naomi Klein’s No Logo (tie-in website here), Alissa Quart (reviews of her Branded here and here) has slammed the encroachment of brands into pretty much every aspect of school life in the United States. The issue has been brought into focus by the decision of certain school boards to ban junk foods from vending machines in the school grounds because of the link between such foods and teenage obesity. Quart goes one further, arguing that the pupils “soak up” the branding on such products. However, this is only the tip of the iceberg, with sponsorship taking many forms, including advertising in corridors, educational materials sponsored by companies, field trips to shopping centres and Channel One a school television network that shows advertising.
For example, Quart reports:

“One teenager from Texas who attends a school sponsored by a soda company recently told me that she was not allowed to drink other sodas in school and then was coerced into covering her textbooks with paper bearing the logo and the image of that brand of soda.”

Should IP lawyers feel guilty? Well, at least a little. The branding gets into schools through sponsorship deals and someone has to draw up those deals. Also, the tangible symbol of the brand ideals that are being foisted on to schoolchildren is our good friend the trade mark -- but please feel free to differ…

Channel One, the US TV network for schools here.
Field Trip Factory, which sends children on field trips to the shops of its corporate sponsors here.

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