When is Marketing at the school gates too much?

Currently, I’m exploring service environments, comparing and analysing those that feel good with those that might not. I couldn’t help but notice a few instances where the intrusive nature of advertising either contributes to unnecessary clutter or potentially presents damaging subliminal messages to the footfall target.

One area on my radar, is the school environment. My observations would be based on acoustics, lighting, and how inspiring a space may or may not feel. I did not expect to notice signs that could impact a child’s sense of happiness & self worth based on body image.

I saw this advert, placed at the entrance to a girls Grammar School with the message “Live Happy with Slimming World”. The school receives money from Slimming World, to advertise here on school property.

Next to this advert on this same footpath is a large primary school, and over the road another large secondary school. The pedestrian footfall within this small radius is unavoidably children and adolescents. Life Coach Tamara Collard, owner of Common Confidence Ltd, whose professional goal is the empowerment of women and children, highlights the detrimental impact that this kind of message can cause: “I work with many girls to overcome their self-doubt about body image. It is disappointing that such a marketing campaign has been positioned so close to an educational establishment for young people.”

I contacted both the school and Slimming World, about the issues surrounding mental health, self-acceptance, eating disorders and self harming in school-aged children. I was surprised that neither felt the need to remove the advert nor change the wording.

Unfortunately, despite raising these issues, the advert remains and money has changed hands between a school and a company endorsing slimming. My personal interest is how built environments feel safe, happy, inspired and comfortable for learning and in no way fuel insecurities about body image. If anything, I’ve gleaned insight into the influence of signage, the sensitive nature of surrounding footfall and how brand language should evolve with the times.

My hope, and thoughts moving forward is that Slimming World HQ consider the following :

  • Evaluate the ‘Slimming World’ brand perception and intention.
  • Set clear boundaries to avoid inadvertently targeting impressionable minors.
  • Discontinue marketing headlines that associate happiness with being slim, and use these headlines to reinforce positive messages about feeling healthy through nourishing nutrition.

26 thoughts on “When is Marketing at the school gates too much?”

  1. Totally with you on your view about the advert close to two schools. A crass misjudgement by the schools and the business, who are no doubt gaining work from parents at the school, which makes the whole thing worse. I wonder if you were a lone voice?

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