It’s now being branded as “The Million program” – referring to the 1.1 million students in the NYC public schools. This proposal was originally described as an “experiment” but is now said to involve 10,000 to 11,000 students in its first year alone - and is apparently being pitched to potential sponsors as a way to market their products to all NYC students in the near future.
According to David Droga, an ad maven involved in the project, who revealed details to Advertising Age's Idea Conference last Thursday,
“There'll also be some room for advertising on the phone. After all, the phones, while provided for free to the students, won't be completely without cost. As such, marketers will be able to infiltrate the students' world through "responsible" sponsorships….There's lots and lots of brands out there that have a place in the students' lives," said Mr. Droga, who wouldn't disclose the specific advertisers because of ongoing negotiations
There may also be product “discounts” offered in text messages, according to Droga – a good way to sell more products.
So let me get this straight: this administration will continue to deny cell phones to students who need to communicate with their parents on their way to or from school, or in case of an emergency. But they will be offered as a way to sell them products?
This project is quickly turning into a potential goldmine for some lucky advertising agency as well as a host of possible commercial sponsors, and yet another opportunity to drain the pockets of NYC kids and their parents.