Onestop's high school dreams crushed

March 10, 2011 by Dave Haynes

The Toronto District School Board voted against Digital OOH network operator Onestop Media’s pitch to put a digital screen network into high schools across the city.

Local TV news CITY TV is reporting, from the board meeting tonight …

After a lengthy debate, the Toronto District School Board has voted against expanding a pilot project that would have seen TV ads rhunning in up to 70 schools.

Some TDSB members say they’re going to bring the program back to the table in the near future.

OneStop Media, the same company that operates screens on subway platforms, provides the LCD TVs that are mounted in hallways, with a five-15 per cent cut of ad revenue going to the school board.

The TDSB receives $1,300 for every school that participates.

Television screens in four downtown Toronto high schools currently display student-generated content as well as class and exam information as part of the pilot project that started last year.
The TVs also show up to two hours of ads from non-commercial sponsors such as post-secondary schools and the government.
Milk and MuchMusic ads have also run on the screens.

Under the agreement, up to two hours of ad time is permitted in school hallways.

Some argue the screens provide an up-to-date communication tool for students and staff, while others say schools should be at least one place kids aren’t exposed to advertising.

“Students should not be used by corporations to be able to sell their products, schools are for learning,” argued Trinity-Spadina MPP, Rosario Marchese. 

School Board Trustee Chris Glover is wary of the idea, fearing it could lead to more significant infiltration by advertisers.
“It’s a slippery slope, if you Google ‘schools and commercialism’ you get a million hits, it’s a big issue in the United States,” he told CityNews before the vote.

“They’ve got advertising on the back of the exam papers, some of the schools are sponsored by Coca Cola and they’ve got a Coca Cola day.”

Harbord Collegiate Institute is currently one of the four schools involved in the pilot project, and principal Rodrigo Fuentes notes the screens have been used for positive initiatives.

“Last year our school raised $14,000 for Haiti relief.   The screens are one of the instrumental parts of doing that…”

If the board had voted to expand the digital sign program, new screens would have been installed in between 50 and 70 schools by the end of March with an additional 20 schools potentially added in 2012.

  1. Howard Smith says:

    This is a shame as firstly the schools I am sure would have had a say in the types of adverts that would have been shown ensuring that only suitable ones for the age group would have been shown. Secondly anyone who knows anything about the younger generation knows that they are expert at filtering out irrelevant ‘noise’ as they are bombarded with messages on a daily basis through other mediums.

  2. TheVok says:

    Speaking of public-school education, someone should teach CityTV that pluralization does not entail apostrophes.

  3. Ad Guy and Father says:

    I am in the ad industry, and a father to teenage boys. I understand the need and purpose of advertising, but with screens popping up everywhere and the average individual already exposed to over 300 ad messages per day, I was hoping that the last place, where there is still some innocence and purity for learning, is having screens in high schools. These jokers, should be ashamed of themselves. Seriously, high schools are not a place for advertising. My kids take business and computer classes and have the opportunity to learn about media and advertising fundamentals the real way – NOT through this excuse to have screens to educate kids. Who is kidding who? $1300/year rent to the schools. This company is not a charity are they? Isn’t their core business selling ads? I hope others can speak up to make a difference.

  4. I completely agree with this decision and Ad Guy, but, and this is where I will probably get into trouble. I think the schools should put the screens in and they should make money with them, but instead of advertising use fundraising and sponsorship as the source of revenue. By this I mean make fund raising social, share what they are raising money for, share who the contributors are and use the screens to promote the crap out of their fund raising efforts. Stop selling me magazine subscriptions and chocolates with 95% of the revenue going to the companies who make / deliver them. Instead tell me what you are raising money for, let me pick and choose what projects I want to support and post them everywhere. And, ask key suppliers to the schools to sponsor the displays. Not advertise. Just sponsor. We do this all of the time with the displays that we put into college trading rooms. No advertising but the such and such bank logo is listed as a sponsor, etc. etc.

    My two cents…


  5. Dave Haynes says:

    I agree with Byron. This was Hail Mary toss by Onestop, and it didn’t work.

    Screens in schools make waaaaay more sense than posters on corkboards and lockers, and beat the crackling drone of someone on a PA system.

    Advertising will always be seen as a mark of the beast by hyper-politicized school trustees, but sponsored equipment is not unusual in schools and represents a reasonable compromise.

    Companies like Samsung and LG that do piles and piles of sponsorships that don’t overtly sell anything but their consumer brand would seem ideal candidates. That’s easier suggested than achieved, but probably has a far better chance of happening in a climate that now has trustees blabbering on about how the Onestep proposal was nothing short of selling the souls of kids.

  6. […] be some major adjustments getting used to the Pattison way, as that is one publicity-shy company. Onestop’s run at cracking Toronto high schools, based on what I know of Pattison, would probably never have even […]

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