By Amanda-Marie Quintino
McGraw-Hill Ryerson quietly called off plans to place advertisements in university textbooks because of a “minor oversight” in its company policy.
According to Tom Stanton, director of communications for McGraw-Hill Education, the Ryerson team in charge of the ad initiative was unaware of the policy conflict.
“We don’t permit advertising in textbooks,” said Stanton. “When it was discovered that (Ryerson) was initiating this project, we immediately retracted it because it was in opposition to McGraw-Hill’s corporate policy to include ads in our textbooks.”
When the initiative was launched, the company released a brochure in an attempt to receive support from potential advertisers.
“Reach a hard-to-get target group where they spend all their parents’ money,” the brochure read. “Do you really think 18 to 24-year-olds see those on-campus magazine ads? Do you really think they could miss an ad that is placed in a well-respected textbook?”
But before advertisers had the opportunity to show interest, McGraw-Hill Ryerson pulled out the rule book and cancelled the plans.
Patrick Ferrier, president of higher education for McGraw-Hill Ryerson, said the initiative retraction was made some time in mid-June, shortly after it had been made public. He was unable to provide an exact date.
McGraw-Hill Ryerson is the Canadian subsidiary of McGraw-Hill Ltd. and is not related to Ryerson University.
Although the companies publish separate material, they share administrative policies. Not all employees were aware of this when proposing the textbook ad initiative.
“The reality is that the Ryerson team just didn’t know they were doing anything wrong,” said Ferrier. “It still wasn’t a fully developed plan at that point, so there was no harm done.”
But according to Gary Ruskin, executive director of Commercial Alert, the fact that McGraw-Hill Ryerson was even making considerations to impose advertisements in the classroom is shameful.
“Some places should be off-limits,” said Ruskin, who works to rid the nation’s schools of corporate marketers. “Some things are too important to be for sale — that includes the classroom.”
Lana Petros, a third-year business marketing student insists that there are specific places for advertising and the classroom is not one of them.
“I don’t need to be exposed to commercialism in a place of learning,” she said.
Business management professor Tarun Dewan is pleased with the initiative’s cancellation.
“Putting ads in textbooks would cause a dilution of academic integrity,” he said. “It’s very important to keep commercial interests out of universities as much as possible. Textbooks should not contain propaganda.”
According to Stanton, students and professors should not be concerned. McGraw-Hill Ryerson has no plans to change policy in order to accommodate textbook advertisements.