I ran into a friend last week who introduced her son, saying, “Say hi to Kyle, brought to you by the Unified School District and Pepsi, the choice of a new generation.”

Well, not really, but, in the past few years, many school districts have signed multi-million dollar marketing and vending partnerships whereby the company becomes the schools’ exclusive provider of vending machines of water and fruit juice. The revenue is to be used to create sponsorships supporting sports and physical education. One can only hope.

When I was growing up, we didn’t shop for brands – we shopped for products. Maybe a Keds sneaker here and there, but, for the most part, we were brand ignorant. Or maybe a nicer way to put it would be “brand agnostic.” Us Boomers have somehow adapted. Unfortunately, some of it is being passed down to future generations.

 
 

As I was thinking about all of this, I got a call from my friend Steve.

Sensing my concern, he suggested we meet for coffee at Fry’s Supermarket, a Kroger Company and grab a cup of Seattle’s Best, a Starbucks Company. Driving along London Gold’s Camelback Road, I was pulled over by the Verizon “Can You Hear Me Now” Police Department and given a warning that next time it would be a ticket, courtesy of Kinko’s/FedEx, the 24-hour Business Store.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist, courtesy of NASA and a generous Grant from the Boeing Foundation, to see where I’m headed. Although an intriguing idea, I am not totally dead set against companies with very deep pockets, a Lee Jeans product, paying for the privilege of reaching our citizens, especially if someone foots the bill, brought to you by Cole Hahn. But there has to be a line – and that line is our children.

No kid will get obese from a computer donated by Dell, but, after enough servings of Cheetos and Mountain Dew, that same kid will hardly fit into a chair and be able to lift his hand for a keystroke. Heart stroke… perhaps.

Americans are just plain big, compared with the rest of the world. Schools are contributing to America’s weight problem – and the lure of big bucks is hard to turn down.

The only thing schools don’t cut is athletic programs, presented by Sports Authority, but, I wondered whether schools were getting greedy, being innovative or just trying to close the gap in school funding. Who are the administrators making these decisions, trying to balance their budgets, thanks to Quickbooks?

Let’s think. School supplies courtesy of Staples? Sounds good. Gym Equipment brought to you by Reebok? Admirable. Instructional TV monitors donated by Best Buy. Perfect. But Little Bobby who can’t make it halfway around the track, brought to you by Little Debbie? I would hope not.

Let’s face it. The people who don’t want to see sponsors in school also vote down referendums for new books and programs. Well, it’s a whole new world, kiddies, and if we don’t want to pay for it, we need to find alternatives.

Using someone else’s money does not have to mean selling out our kids. Once you let the camel poke his nose inside the tent, Tours Available through Abercrombie and Kent, anything can happen. Let’s find the right resources and not diminish the resource of our future, the kids.

Privatization of public resources is my rant today, but I do have a word limit for my columns so it’s time to get back to my computer, an Apple MacBook Pro, sip my Diet Dr. Pepper, a product of the Coca-Cola Bottling Co., and smoke my Montecristo, an Altidas product from Cigar King. After that, it’s off to bed, for a lovely romantic night with my wife, on our Serta Posturepedic Mattress.

Do you think that big brands are more important for your grandkids than they were when you were a kid? What do you think of the trend of large companies sponsoring schools and other public services? What is the one thing you hope for when it comes to your grandkid’s future? Please join the conversation.

This is a guest post by Barry Kluger, a 30-year plus veteran communications executive serving established companies as well as start-ups with strategic planning, corporate positioning, internal and external communications, media relations, government relations, acquisition strategy and executive training.

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