March 16th, 2011

School buses give ads a ride

USA Today

Rhe look of school buses hasn’t changed much over the years, but as states scramble for revenue sources, a growing number are adding something new — advertising for such clients as banks, real estate and insurance agents.

New Jersey’s Republican Gov. Chris Christie signed legislation in January making his state the sixth to allow advertising on school buses.

Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Tennessee and Texas also permit ads, says Michael Beauchamp, president of Alpha Media, which manages advertising on 3,000 school buses in Texas and Arizona. Lawmakers in at least five other states — Florida, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Utah and Washington — are considering the idea, he says.

Advertising in public school districts has existed for years at school gyms and athletic fields, says New Jersey School Boards Association spokesman Michael Yaple. School buses offer the visibility of daily trips throughout a community – along with the associated sensitivity of the commercial influence on young children, Beauchamp says.

“This is more lucrative,” Beauchamp says of bus ads, “because it’s out there on a daily basis.”

School districts turning to bus advertising face a balancing act between the additional revenue they need and the possibilities of content controversy.

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