The folks over at Campbell Soup Company, which makes Prego spaghetti sauce, have provided some 12,000 primary and secondary schools with what they call an experiment. Campbell has sent out posters for free, each with a slotted spoon and a coupon for a free 30 ounce jar of Prego Traditional sauce. The schools have to buy their own Ragu Old World Style spaghetti sauce. The posters instruct the students on how to conduct the experiment and to determine which sauce is thicker.

According to an article at Harpers Magazine it states:

Students are instructed to predict whether Prego or Ragu Old World Style is thicker, and to conduct an experiment to test their hypothesis. They’re told that the experiment has not been performed correctly unless Prego is proven to be thicker.

The goal of any in-class promotion is to establish continuity with brand advertising. But because corporate-designed lesson plans require an educational facade, advertisers have in the past relied on subtle tricks to hawk their products. No longer. Since the Prego TV commercial “Which Sauce Is Thicker?” already had a pseudo-scientific conceit, Campbell’s ad team saw an opportunity for a direct tie-in. Other companies are doing the same: General Mills has sent 8,000 teachers a science curriculum on volcanoes entitled “Gushers: Wonders of the Earth,” which uses the company’s Fruit Gushers candy. In Hunt-Wesson’s “Kernels of Knowledge” history lesson, Orville Redenbacher is grouped with Gregor Mendel, Louis Pasteur, and George Washington Carver as a scientist and inventor “who made a difference.”

So why are schools falling for what is obviously a blatant form of advertising?  With school boards across the nation facing budget cuts, educators are being forced into finding ways to supplement their curriculum. So there you have it. Our educational system is heading into the crapper, but our students are being well-educated in knowing that Prego is thicker than Ragu!

Comments welcome.

Source – Harper Magazine in .pdf format