Wednesday, February 15, 2012


 The Class Room as an Advertising Zone

The newspaper “Sonntag” published last weekend an article on Apple’s marketing strategy at schools (http://snipurl.com/227ahrp). And sure enough, Apple knows how to promote its products.

Apple has got a 70.4 percent share of the market at Swiss schools. But it seems that the company’s goal is to have an even stronger monopolistic role in this very important market. To reach its aim Apple launches new marketing projects. Its marketing strategy focuses on the teachers. “Apple Distinguished Educators” (ADEs) is a worldwide community of visionary educators whose goal is to make a difference in the future of education. ADEs teach students, share their expertise with other educators and advise Apple on the realities of integrating technology into learning environments (http://snipurl.com/227apep). One has to admit that this idea is a great example of stakeholder involvement in the development and innovation of products. Educators have to apply for being a member of this worldwide community. Already 28 Swiss teachers have got the honor to be ADEs.

Additionally the Education-Team at Apple Switzerland is implementing the global “Apple Professional Development Program”. It should complement the offers of the University of Teacher Education in information and communication technology (ICT). Teachers teach teachers how to use Apple products in the class room.

Furthermore regional training centers are built, a pilot project allocates iPads for schools and Apple is developing school books in all four national languages for iPads. Apple pursuits a pretty offensive marketing strategy, but also Microsoft tries to bind schools to its products, what already caused differences with the Swiss government (http://snipurl.com/227b86u).

These examples show that the education market is very important for tech companies and therefore highly competitive. As education is part of the public sector the companies role in this area should be controversially discussed.

The critical aspects of the mentioned marketing strategies are multifarious.

Both enterprises try to consolidate their market position by their campaigns at schools. As the knowhow of using technology is very important for nowadays education and schools only have limited financial resources, these “public-private partnerships” are actually important. But the problem is that these examples aren’t real public-private partnerships. And so we have to ask ourselves who gains more profit out of these collaborations.

As this kind of products and especially the brand behind the product have got an emotional component and want to influence the attitude to life, it becomes very important for the companies to win young customers. Therefore the campaigns at schools are part of a very clever marketing strategy. But do we want ad men to teach our children? Or shouldn’t class rooms rather be commercial-free?!

If the public reacts skeptical on companies that sponsor professorships, then Apple’s behavior has to provoke skeptic too. The given examples raise the issue of independency of the educators or institutions to a certain extent. Teachers who simultaneously operate as Apple-ambassadors will find themselves in a conflict of interest. But independent education is one of the most important aspects for the development of knowledge.

Sustainable solutions are important to reduce our dependency on these companies. We should care about the sustainable education at our schools and not about sustainable volume of sales for Apple and Co.

Sabrina Stucki

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