Rancho Bernardo (near San Diego) -- For direct marketers, testing ads is nothing new. But in the midst of a stupid-scary budget crisis/disaster in California, high school math teacher Tom Farber has come up with a bold and profitable innovation -- running paid ads on his calculus tests.
"It's pretty standard that we don't have enough money from the state for supplies every year," Farber told San Diego magazine. "But this year was the worst ever."
So bad, in fact, that Mr. Farber didn't have enough money this year in his photocopying budget (he needed $500 and he was nearly $200 in the hole when the year started) to print tests for his students.
Mr. Farber is no ordinary math teacher. So, instead of numbing himself out by mindlessly practicing differential equations until the sense of hopeless anxiety passed, he looked around. He saw public buses covered with ads. He thought, hey, why don't I do the same thing on my tests?
A brave new frontier for advertising was thus crossed. Mr. Farber got ads (and cash) from a local orthodontist ("Brace yourself for a great semester! Braces by Henry") and even from a few parents.
Rancho Bernardo is right in the center of perhaps the world's greatest concentration of motivational giants. Tony Robbins, Brian Tracy and Dr. Dennis Waitley all live nearby, for example.
So it's not surprising that parents felt drawn to put (and pay for) inspirational, upbeat messages in tests like "Good luck, but remember that knowledge is more important than luck." (Editor's note: Not sure I agree with that quote 100% of the time. But on a calculus test -- sure.)
Another handy gem a parent paid to place in a test: "Keep the company of those who seek the truth, and run from those who have found it.-Vaclav Havel."
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As a professional educator, well, I'm mildly amused.
But as a direct marketer -- wow, I'm stoked!
What do you think?
Publisher, World Copywriting Newsletter