Proactiv and Nexon.net

November 21, 2008
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The audio file below was made from the high school version of BusRadio the week of November 17.

You’ll hear three different ads for two different products. They are all from the same afternoon show.

The first part of the audio clip is a Proactiv acne medicine commercial. It sounds almost too good to be true. (But hey, these are young people, they’ll fall for anything.) The next ad is one for a South Korean game website. Lucia, the BusRadio DJ riders have learned to trust and like, is doing this commercial. It is improper to have a BusRadio DJ hawking products. That is the normal way things are done on regular radio, but these DJs have told the public they are different.

BusRadio’s promotional material says these DJs will remind riders of safety tips and will encourage them to stay in school and other positive things, and they do. The BusRadio DJs become a sort of authority figure. They hold themselves out to be people who are only looking after the best interest of the young bus riders. That is, as we hear, not true. These DJs serve the people who pay them – the advertisers.

The main job of a BusRadio DJ is to prepare the young captive audience for advertising pitches. The more money they help shake out of kids, the better BusRadio will do.

Telling young people to go to a certain website to play games (it starts out free but the whole point of the site is to get young people to buy into more complex games) is a misuse of the trust the DJs have tried to create. Notice Lucia says that Nexon.net is where she will be hanging out that night. She’s the Pied Piper.

Simply put, if Lucia tells younger kids bus safety rules or older students to "stay in school" and then tells them that a game website is the greatest thing ever, then both type of messages are made equal. Advertisers love these BusRadio DJs.

Anything advertised on BusRadio is implicitly endorsed by the school district. BusRadio’s contract makes them, in effect, the official radio station of the school district. Drivers are to be "encouraged" to play BusRadio. School districts are promised a share of the ad revenue. This is a bizarre situation that few school districts should find attractive. There are more than a few ethical problems here.

Does anyone in the school administration know if Proactiv is worth the money? Has anyone checked out Nexon.net? If they haven’t (and they haven’t) then why are they allowing these products to be pitched to students? Who knows what BusRadio will decide to advertise next. They make that decision not school officials.

Back to the audio clip: After the first two commercials there is a slight gap after which Mat, the other DJ, joins in pitching Nexon.net. This last commercial came later in the same show. Two ads for Nexon.net on the ride home, both done by the DJs, show

how powerful and effective BusRadio can be for advertisers.