A guest blog post from Juliana Kaplan:
As an avid reader of Scholastic’s series The Princess Diaries, let me just tell you one thing about Scholastic’s recent coal product placement: Princess Mia would not like it.
While such products as the Spongebob Squarepants digital monopoly game and Cheerios counting books lining their shelves, Scholastic is no stranger to product placement. But as Scholastic’s recent product placement decisions come to light, many are questioning whether such an educational company should be using these products in their material.
Scholastic’s recent deal with the American Coal Foundation which agreed to sponsor an educational poster called “The United States Of Energy”, which if you asked them, is a purely educational map featuring several sources of energy around the U.S. Of course, one of the extremely highlighted and detailed sections features coal production, and the accompanying teacher’s guide suggests a full class period to learn about the steps of coal production and how it makes electricity. So let’s get this straight: Coal companies are paying Scholastic, which in turn makes coal map and coal lesson. Do you see a common theme here, too?
So here’s where it gets difficult: how much is too much? This is a wide debate, and while many might say “Well, of course, there is a limit.” But when their companies are booming because of product placement, it turns into the sky is the limit. But if we keep pushing the boundaries, keep throwing money at each other, keep turning a blind eye, how far can we push the envelope? Am I supposed to start my college year with English: Brought to you by Microsoft Word ? I was recently watching an episode of iCarly with my little sister, about how the girls are paid to have a subtle product placement in their show, and soon regret it. But I have seen many a Nickelodeon show subtly advertise other shows of Nickelodeon origin. So, while there may be many shocked and dismayed by Scholastic’s map and curriculum, let me just tell you right now: this may just be the beginning.