Friday, November 25, 2005

Sometimes it is good to talk

Sometimes it is good to talk

I know that this might be a sacrilegious thought here in Bloggerland but I think sometimes talk radio is just so hard to beat. I caught a discussion yesterday on Newstalk’s “The Right Hook” on the insidious commercialisation of our children’s education.

At the outset I have to say, my first reaction when I came across George Hook was one bordering on revulsion. How could this inarticulate self-opinionated rugby pundit credibly host a radio chat show? I’ve since revised my opinions of Mr Hook. Despite – or is it because of? – his less than word perfect delivery, he does manage to create some engaging radio.

Yesterday’s programme included a discussion between a Glasnevin teacher (called Joe, I think) (*) and Paul Allen (of Paul Allen Associates, Public Relations). The teacher seems to have started a campaign against what he sees as the blatant exploitation of school children and direct marketing in the class room. You know that sort of thing – Tesco’s Computers for Schools scheme provided schools with pc’s by parents collecting shopping tokens. McDonalds have sponsored GAA Hurling gear that includes bibs emblazoned with the golden arches.

Teacher Joe demanded that a halt be put to this sort of thing and convincingly argued that the classroom should be free of such endorsements. He noted that safety lessons “brought to you by Renault, the safest cars in the world” were a reality in some schools (*).

Despite – or is it because of? – his public relations expertise, Paul Allen was much less convincing against restricting such sponsorship. His argument seemed to consist of ‘every facet of life is a marketing opportunity, there is near media saturation with images being bombarded at every corner. So there is no point in trying to stop it. Oh, and by the way, Independent Newspaper’s have an excellent campaign’. He patronisingly noted that Joe is making a noble effort but that he should live in the real world – and see the Super Supervalu promotion for what it was – captain’s armbands for the kids (*). Joe insisted that class rooms should be a sanctuary from such highly tuned marketing and that our children should not be for sale.

Children as young as three are asking their mums to shop in Tesco’s or Dunnes or Esat so that their school can win computers or gym gear or the Young Scientist of the Year competition. (Slight exaggeration, but you get the drift.) Paul seemed incapable of constructing a reasonable counter-argument and so tried to ridicule Joe with the image of teachers having to peel Fyffe’s labels of lunchtime bananas. Such nonsensical non-sequiturs demonstrate what I’ve always believed, Marketing heads are about as useful as a chocolate teapot.

George enriched the discussion – and covered for a poor mobile telephone line – by playing devil’s advocate to both sides of the argument and reminiscing about pestering his mum to by Horlick’s jars as a child so he could get a Dan Dare Intergalactic Spaceship or something (*). And he didn’t even lick Horlicks!

Excellent, engaging radio. As I said, sometimes it’s good to talk radio.

Photo : Penguin Books

(*) I know that the lack of accurate detail will prevent me from being either a journalist or a fully fledged blogger. Or in the case of Redmum, both!


Blogger Steven said...

Don't talk to me about marketing. I've doing two marketing projects at the minute and have lost all respect for the Marketing Department at my university.

Possibly the biggest waste of space on the campus!

7:44 p.m., November 25, 2005  

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