In violation of law, Orange publishes ads in high school
The courtyard of Rogozin High School in south Tel Aviv is painted orange and black, the colors of the Orange (Partner) cell phone provider, whose advertising slogans cover the walls outside. Orange donated about NIS 1 million for renovations on the schoolyard and playing field, in violation of laws imposing restrictions on commercial advertising in schools and requiring a permit from an Education Ministry committee. The Tel Aviv Municipality approved the donation and advertising without consulting the committee.
"We feel as if the school was sold to Orange," the mother of a student at Rogozin said.
"Poor schools should be supported, but not by influencing the children's minds," said attorney Yitzhak Kimhi, the Trade and Industry Ministry's consumer protection watchdog. "If the slogans are not removed shortly we will consider taking legal action against those responsible." Violators of the laws against advertising in schools are subject to heavy fines and even imprisonment.
The Consumer Protection Law (Advertising Targeting Minors) imposes restrictions on the introduction into educational institutions of advertising and corporate logos, including a permit from the Education Ministry committee tasked with examining all proposals to bring commercial organizations into the schools. The ministry has drawn up guidelines for such advertising that spells out details down to the size of the logo permitted. Kimhi is responsible for enforcing the law and is also a member of the Education Ministry committee.
"The Tel Aviv Municipality's action is infuriating in part because in the past we warned them about bringing in advertising and, despite the warning, they did not refrain," Kimhi said. "Children are a captive audience. While they are in school, they cannot elect to ignore the advertising, they are easier to influence than adults and have more difficulty distinguishing content from marketing. We cannot permit everyone to make their own rules in this regard," Kimhi said.
Partner said in response that the Orange brand name did not appear anywhere in the schoolyard, but Kimhi says that painting the yard in the company's orange and black colors, combined with the use of slogans used in its advertising such as "smile" and "explore" are sufficient to create an association with the company.
According to Irit Livne, chair of the Education Ministry committee that vets advertising in schools, in a similar case in the past involving a school in Rishon Letzion whose yard was painted in the commercial colors of Sprite soda without the committee's permission, the school was compelled to repaint the yard.
Most of the students at Rogozin High are the children of new immigrants and foreign workers. Until a year ago, the school was part of an experimental program operated by the Education Ministry, and was considered a "democratic" school. A new principal, Karen Tal, was appointed last year. She began bringing corporate initiatives into the school, including a computer classroom sponsored by Cisco and a computer vocational class sponsored by Tescom.
Rani Rahav Communications, which represents Partner-Orange, issued a statement according to which Partner's management noticed the lack of facilities at Rogozin and donated about NIS 1 million to renovate the schoolyard.
"Partner fiercely rejects the small-mindedness of interested parties whose sole aim is to find the bad in every good deed motivated by a genuine desire to help the disadvantaged," the Rahav statement said. "This approach often drives potential benefactors away from public activity and contributions based on goodwill."
An Education Ministry statement indicated that the proper permits were not issued for either the painting or the renovation at Rogozin and the ministry would take appropriate action against those responsible.