Wednesday, February 16, 2011

School Advertisements

Last year there was one full page ad of a school in a Delhi newspaper, which triggered a edit page mention on school advertisements. But really the debate wasn’t about school advertisements but more about what was being said in that ad (something to the tune of a child learning from a domestic help).

Anyhow, school advertisements have intrigued me for a while now. Never has India seen so diverse advertisements of schools. Ad agencies must seriously be thinking of ideas as is clear from the advertisements.

A look at the ads will tell you that each school is unique. As an educationist I feel swayed by what the schools claim themselves to be. ‘Learning beyond the Classroom’, ‘Be what you want to be’, ‘The science of education’, ‘Opening minds, Opening avenues’…so on and so forth. Long call from the times, I used to be in school. But I wonder if all the uniqueness in the ads translates into classrooms. This answer to this question merits a comprehensive survey.

If the India Today survey of top schools of the country (done a few years back) is anything to go by…there is little learning happening in schools. I don’t know if Education Initiatives(EI)
is taking on the initiative further.

Nevertheless, the purpose of this note is not to delve into learning and serious matters. It is just to have a look at the advertisements.

Sitting in educationist circles, we have often lamented the fact that parents rule the education and school world. Moving on, the parents don’t want a change in the education system and want the schools to concentrate on serious academics rather than experiment with experiential learning and project based methods. In fact, parents want conventional schools with good infrastructure.

This is directly in conflict with my deduction of the school advertisements. The fact that the school ads are claiming to be opening minds and being non-conventional actually means that the end consumers i.e parents actually want the schools to be non-conventional.

I don’t know what to make of it, but I am happy with the advertisements at least.

Another truth about the advertisement scenarios is that only the new schools need them and not the old ones. So, the stalwarts like DPS, Modern, Mothers and Bells don’t require it. I am yet to see an ad of these schools. Does it mean that once a school is established it doesn’t need to promote itself? So, once the admissions in these new schools is full house…they will stop advertising. Cool business.

I cut out advertisements of some of these schools, and showed it to a friend of mine (who is currently hunting a school for her child). She said that all schools want the words ‘Global’ ‘International’ and ‘World’ in their names and interestingly in their logos as well. Quite a few school logos have a globe in them.

Well…if the vision is global…then I guess, we will see much happening private schools soon.

As far as the advertisements are concerned…they will grow and innovate. More will come soon. With Birla, Manipal, Career Launcher, Educomp, S Chand and many others opening school chains…the sector will see more action.

No wonder then…school advertisements may muster a lecture or two at top B schools.

But I still think that school advertisements are a matter of research. You cant be selling education just like shampoos and soap. Can we?

P.S - Advertisement of hospitals is another interesting segment of research…Fortis, BLK, Columbia Asia et al

- Dr A P J is seen in every school these days.

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