An Imaginary Interview With Martha Doyle

September 19, 2008
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From Jim Metrock:

Welcome to a fake interview with Martha Doyle president of EF Educational Tours. Ms. Doyle’s company has recently started advertising on Channel One News. Her commercials are now frequently heard blaring from classroom TV sets.

I wrote Ms. Doyle and asked her to reconsider her support of Channel One. She never responded to my letter, so I decided I’ll conduct a made-up interview with “her.”

I not only wrote the questions below, but I also wrote the answers. Yes, it is bizarre, but it will be fun and maybe even a bit enlightening.

Welcome, Ms. Doyle.

 

This is not real. These words are being made up by Mr. Metrock. I am not Martha Doyle. This is asinine.

Everybody understands this is an imaginary interview, Ms. Doyle. Are you ready to answer some questions.

 

This is just stupid.

Well, stupid is as stupid does, which brings me to your company’s not-too-smart decision to advertise on Channel One News.

 

Excuse me, that was a very smart decision! Channel One has an audience of nearly six million young people. This is a perfect audience for EF Educational Tours.

 

Ms. Doyle, isn’t it a little creepy forcing your commercials on a captive audience of schoolchildren.

 

You don’t understand. We have a GOOD product. Do you see the word “educational” in our name? Parents should be delighted that their children are watching our commercial messages while they sit at their desks.

Ms. Doyle, I think parents would be extremely upset to know your company is usurping children’s school time. These parents and other taxpayers paid for every second of school time. They never intended EF Educational Tours to be using that time to promote their company.

 

From what I am told, Channel One is usually shown in homeroom. Our ads therefore don’t take up ANY class time.

Since your company is now a big part of the Channel One controversy, you should read their contract with schools. Their TV show must be shown 90% of school days or the TV sets are ripped out. That means students must watch one hour a week. Homeroom has to be made artificially longer to accommodate Channel One. If that wasn’t necessary, that time could be added to academic courses.

Don’t fool yourself – You are helping to diminish the educational opportunities of millions of young people. School time is not just valuable, it is precious, and you are gobbling up that time to bolster your bottom line.

 

That’s great, Mr. Metrock. You give yourself all the good lines and you give me nothing. What I will say is Channel One News is a good show for students to watch. How else are they possibly going to know what is going on in the world? I am proud to sponsor this Peabody Award winning program. And they have won “Webby” awards too – whatever those are.

 

I know you have seen your ads on Channel One’s webcast. Can you name three other companies that have commercials on Channel One News?

 

Er… I don’t remember. I…

 

 

There are precious few, Ms. Doyle. Channel One News is a pariah in the ad world, as well as in the education world. Running ads during school time is not a nice thing to do. Your company’s reputation is not being enhanced by its partnership with Channel One.

EF Educational Tours is not advertising on Channel One to enhance or diminish our reputation. We simply want to increase our revenue. Students and teachers are the main people who use our services so it makes sense for us to go where they are, where they have to be each school day.

 

The National PTA has always been opposed to Channel One. As recently as September 2006 the National PTA signed a letter with 100 other organizations and child advocates urging companies, like yours, to refrain from advertising on Channel One. Did you get that memo, Ms. Doyle?

Oh my goodness gracious! I didn’t know the National PTA had taken a position on Channel One. Advertising on Channel One could hurt our revenue. Oh my goodness!

 

I really don’t think the PTA’s position will affect your revenue. That’s not the point. You shouldn’t be advertising “between the bells.” That time is for learning, not for marketing.

Can you tell me who else signed that letter?

 

Consumers Union, Eagle Forum, the National Council of Churches signed. You can read the letter by clicking here. Since your company is based in Boston, it is noteworthy that the Mass. Action for Healthy Kids and the Mass. Public Health Association are also signers.

Uh oh. I’m not feeling good about this anymore.

Ms. Doyle, do the right thing. Remove your commercials from America’s classrooms. Let these children have their school time without commercial messages that only enrich you.

 

I must say, Mr. Metrock, that you make a cogent, well-reasoned argument for not advertising on Channel One News. I will seriously consider ending our classroom advertising campaign.

I never spoke to the real Martha Doyle, but I want to thank the fake Martha Doyle for her time.

Oh no, Mr. Metrock. I should be thanking you. This has been an eye-opening experience.