Sunday, October 04, 2009

ad fail

i saw an extremely infuriating ad for Chicago Public Schools this afternoon on the #152 bus.

it was part of their "Just Go! to school" campaign, and the point of the ad is that if you went to school and graduated, you could grow up to be like the people on the ad. it had pictures of four people, with their occupation, their name, and name of the Chicago public high school from which they graduated. one of them was a journalist and television news anchor, one was a singer, one was an Olympic athlete and business owner, and one was an attorney and nonprofit director.

the journalist and news anchor was listed as such. the singer was listed as such. the athlete and entrepreneur was listed as such. the attorney and nonprofit director was not listed as such, but rather listed as First Lady of the United States.

that drives me crazy. i'm not trying to allege that it's not pretty cool to be the First Lady. however, the point is that you are supposed to finish school in order to give yourself the tools to build an interesting career for yourself. i'm not trying to discount any role Michelle Obama had in helping to get Barack Obama elected. she's a well-spoken public figure, and an asset to the White House.

however, listing her career as "First Lady" implies that the reason that she's worth holding up as an example is that she's married to the president. this is simply not true. it trivializes the fact that she had a successful career as an attorney, in the mayor's office, with nonprofits in town, and with the University of Chicago. she did enough interesting stuff on her own to merit holding up as an example of how education can take you down a good path.

if you get right down to it, you're more likely to meet someone of potentially presidential calibre if you stay in school and go to college and run in circles where the talented and the powerful run. but, i don't reckon that's the message that Chicago Public Schools wants to disseminate: "stay in school and get a really sweet MRS."

in other words, this ad slighted both the achievements of Michelle Obama and the value of staying in school in one fell swoop.

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