Advertising markets in everything

by on December 2, 2008 at 4:24 pm in Education | Permalink

Tom Farber gives a lot of tests. He’s a calculus teacher, after all. So when administrators at Rancho Bernardo, his
suburban San Diego high school, announced the district was cutting
spending on supplies by nearly a third, Farber had a problem…

"Tough times call for tough actions," he says.
So he started selling ads on his test papers: $10 for a quiz, $20 for a
chapter test, $30 for a semester final.

San Diego magazine and The San Diego Union-Tribune
featured his plan just before Thanksgiving, and Farber came home from a
few days out of town to 75 e-mail requests for ads. So far, he has
collected $350. His semester final is sold out.

Here is the story and I thank Hunter Amor Williams for the pointer.

1 Tyler Cowen December 2, 2008 at 4:42 pm

Testing comments…

2 EclectEcon December 2, 2008 at 5:13 pm

We have had a recent and unexpected budget cut at my university. After seeing this article a few days ago, our department is considering following suit.

3 meter December 2, 2008 at 5:22 pm

Being tested on the material isn’t enough: we must also test the student’s mettle.

“To skip to the exam, remove *this* ad” (based on eyescarring colors.)

4 Anonymous December 2, 2008 at 5:50 pm

For many students, taking exams involves high anxiety, stress, poor performance and failure. Which advertiser wants their product associated in the mind of the consumer with negativity? See a Coke can, have a flashback to the calculus final you blew. Maybe only tutoring services or software would be a natural fit.

5 Michael December 2, 2008 at 8:00 pm

I can’t imagine students will take kindly to distracting ads on tests.

6 John Pertz December 2, 2008 at 8:53 pm

Chris said:

“What does it say about me that as I read this post I was expecting to see something about the teacher going to jail or the school board receiving hundreds of complaints from students or some other anti-market reaction?”

I second this. I too was waiting on the line in the story where the teacher is going to jail with the quotes from concerned citizens comparing the teacher to the devil. Im shocked.

7 q December 2, 2008 at 9:27 pm

“First and foremost, these are children, who are required by the government to attend school.”

Children are inundated with advertisements at a very early age, even in school. The world hasn’t ended yet.

“why should they be made to suffer these distractions”

Why do you think it’d be any more distracting than the texas instruments logo on their calculators, or the ticonderoga logo on their pencils, or the nike swoosh on their shoes?

8 kerrjac December 2, 2008 at 11:16 pm

“Stop by McDie’s! Bring by Mr. Faber’s test for a Big Mac value meal, we’re offering discounts of half your test grade squared divided by one minus your percentile relative to your classmates’ grades. (Hint: Solve for one and substitute the other.) Bring by your friends, we love to see you smile.”

I don’t think it’s a bad idea. Think of the last time you took an exam, & let’s say you had the luxury of choosing to take it ad-free, or getting a few extra bucks for being exposed to a ads. Certainly most would choose to have ad-free tests for big exams like the GRE or bar, but in many cases – quizes, high school vocabulary tests, take-homes – particularly when time’s not a biggie, I think more people would chose to have the ads & get some money.

9 James December 2, 2008 at 11:46 pm

The ads are likely to distract the students taking these tests. This cuts into the allotted time and as they are continual distractions probably reduces student performance. If this is the case then the instructor can keep the ads and curve the tests so they reflect prior year pre-advertising exams. I don’t think the solution is to ban him from taking the adverts if the copy budget is really that low. It might make sense to sell adverts in the handouts he’s likely giving as well.

The kind of ads that would seem to work well here are testing and tutoring companies. Fast food, clothing, and cell phone service as well. They would probably work best with a coupon etc which would let a student remove the distraction…

10 Zamfir December 3, 2008 at 3:56 am

My bet is that this was meant from the start to raise publicity, not money.

11 Ted Craig December 3, 2008 at 8:40 am

I’ve long advocated selling ads on the back of text books. Companies like Merck could buy space on the back of biology texts, Dow on the back of chemistry, for lit., etc.

12 Kat December 3, 2008 at 8:24 pm

Hal: Some schoolchildren are exposed to advertising as a captive audience, actually:

12 minutes a day of mostly-fluff news and lots of ads, shown so the schools can get TV/VCRs in every classroom for free. Not during exams, but a big waste of time.

13 Paul December 5, 2008 at 2:36 am

I wonder how long until one of his students tries to take out an ad with some basic calculus relationships in it.

14 Fernando December 9, 2008 at 9:30 am

Jesus Christ, some people are incredibly stupid aren’t they?

Anyone who thinks that the children are being corrupted by these ads are either stupid, or just damn stupid.

You process over 70,000 ad related images a day, regardless of age.

A teacher selling ads to increase his budget is nothing short of a smart move.

Wake up.

15 Kristi February 11, 2009 at 10:02 pm

I believe the imagination of this teacher is an insperational thing. At least he is trying to come up with something to help the finacial problems the school systems are being forced into. I commend his efforts and I hope my childrens school can come up with something like it or the same if that’s what it takes to get the future of the world ready to be in charge. The money has to come from somewhere, if we can’t do it through taxes or donations this sounds okay to me.
I am only a fulltime working mom who volunteers at school about 40 hours a month,help with 2 kids class parties also watch 3 extra kids for free on my days off.

16 tony May 14, 2009 at 2:31 am

It is enlightening!

17 ArchieOtto August 12, 2010 at 11:23 am

Advertising and marketing are some of the most interesting and dynamic fields one could hope to work in. The advertisers are always innovative and find new ways to reach their potential customers. The teacher’s idea was a ez saver program that would allow him to regain the cutbacks for office supplies and it seems he did great.

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