Ads on Public Vehicles?

Picture stolen from, where an article about this topic appears.

This has been coming up more and more lately, as budgets are squeezed – supposedly by the horrid economy. This particular story says that the city of Baltimore is considering putting advertising on the sides of their fire trucks, to help defray the costs of keeping several station houses open. Other stories have told of schools adding soda/snack machines to get the kickbacks, putting up posters in the hallways, selling naming rights to football fields and other school parts to ‘raise money’ for the districts.

I get that budgets are tight. I need look no further (farther?) than my own checkbook to understand this. But is adding a big Pepsi sign to the side of a fire truck the answer? Do we want police cars sponsored by NASCAR? (ok, that NASCAR thing might be cool. Especially if they’re in charge of souping-up the engines of the police cars. That would totally end high-speed chases. But I digress). Putting advertising in schools to further market to kids, who are already probably the MOST marketed-to demographic in our society?

When I see a police car, that vehicle stands out. The clean lines, the Police written on the side…. these are indicators of what it is, and the image portrays security, safety, even respect. How is that image going to be upheld when Pepsi is spattered across the side of the vehicle, likely larger than the type used for Police?

What about the fire truck? I don’t know about your town, but our fire trucks have very little ‘flat space’ on their sides. So, what, we’re supposed to put the ladder up every day and fly a Coke banner?

Here’s an idea… in the attached article, it says that some of the governmental budgets have not been audited for decades. Typical response: it’s too expensive. Really? It’s too expensive to audit your books to eliminate mistakes, and possibly fraud and waste, but it’s perfectly reasonable to sell your town’s Public Services – that are already paid for in good faith by your own taxpayers – to the highest bidder? Because THAT doesn’t open the door to fraud at all.

Sometimes I hate politicians. Start fixing the budgets – of the towns that can afford to throw huge town celebrations but can’t keep a fire department open. Of the schools that can afford to hire a comedian to come in and talk about “bullying” but can’t afford toilet paper. Start looking at your politicians’ salaries and pensions and benefits packages. Start making them pay for their own, just like people in the private sector are. Stop paying your city manager hundreds of thousands of dollars. Stop paying school administrators ridiculous salaries – a school I worked for provided a car for the superintendent and then complained that there wasn’t enough money for books – and start paying the bills first.

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5 Responses to Ads on Public Vehicles?

  1. Joy says:

    When I first started reading this I really thought “what the heck? What difference does it make” but as I kept reading I agree with you about how “nice” firetrucks look and police cars. I don’t really think ads should be on a police car. I feel it somehow takes away some of the seriousness of their job so I applied the same thing to a bright shiny firetruck. Police, fire and rescue put their lives on the line everyday for us so somehow seeing “tums” on the side of the car would cheapen it in my mind.

    I don’t think “outside” stores or restaurants should be advertised in schools either. I do think there is a time and place for things and school isn’t about that.

    I worked in a public school too and I know how far off the budgets are. People are so stupid about them. They have such outdated reasoning about them. I worked for 6 years in the Science Center for the elementary schools and my supervisor told me I had to spend the WHOLE budget and if there was “leftover” money I was told to SPEND it. They think if you don’t spend it they’ll take it away from you for the next year. I realize they might but why waste money where it’s needed elsewhere? I never understood that but I do know it goes on. Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone had a once a year audit?

    • Laura says:

      We (our town) FINALLY voted, last year, to build a new high school here. The old one is a middle school that was built in the ’40s, and has been updated and updated, and literally duct-taped together over the years.

      Every year for at least the last 6ish (as long as I’ve been here), a group has been trying to get a new high school built. The answer has always been “no”. Why? Well, the town residents had several answers… you managed a budget poorly ten years ago, just fix that boiler (the heating system is also from the ’40s, and several parts of the school don’t have air conditioning), and this is the kicker… 20 years ago (more, now), you said that you weren’t going to close the school in Rowley (this is a town to our south, with MAYBE 150 residents), and you did. So I don’t think that YOU should get YOUR bright shiny school now. Ok, so that was 25 years ago. Kids today should not have heat, because your elementary school closed when you were in kindergarten?

      It blows my mind how people just DON’T think when it comes to public spaces, funds, everything. There is absolutely no “looking down the road”. It’s all “right here, right now, gimme gimme gimme” and nobody cares about the fallout.

      We finally got that school passed. They’re building it now, and it’ll open in 2013.

  2. SKL says:

    I agree that they need to be audited. I think it would save money in the long run. Accountability – I still don’t understand why it’s such a dirty word in some circles.

    And I agree about spending priorities. If the town needs to sell ads, why not put the first ads on the officials’ homes, cars, and clothing? I mean, it’s for the good of society and to pay their salaries, right? Hmm. Maybe if that was the ultimatum, they’d figure out another way to fit basic needs into the budgets.

  3. Nikki says:

    I don’t think there should be any advertisements on our police cars, or rescue vehicles. They look a certain way for a reason, to be taken serious. I also don’t think advertisements need to be on our schools, unless they are advertising for school related stuff. There is a place for all that, and these are not the places.

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