Students taking a Common Core standardized test in New York faced a question about a risk taker that included Nike’s slogan “Just Do It.”

In this June 21, 2013 file photo, Nike Shox running shoes are displayed in Tampa, Fla. Nike Inc.’s copyrighted phrase “Just Do It” has shown up on standardized tests given to New York students in grades three to eight in April 2014. Some parents are wondering what it was doing on some of New York’s Common Core standardized English tests. (AP/Chris O'Meara)

In this June 21, 2013 file photo, Nike Shox running shoes are displayed in Tampa, Fla. Nike Inc.’s copyrighted phrase ““Just Do It”” has shown up on standardized tests given to New York students in grades three to eight in April 2014. Some parents are wondering what it was doing on some of New York’s Common Core standardized English tests. (AP/Chris O’Meara)

Another question specified that a busboy missed cleaning up spilled Mug Root Beer, a Pepsi product.

The use of these trademarks and others — like Mattel’s Barbie, Wrigley’s Life Savers and Apple’s iPod — are upsetting some parents and groups against targeting advertising to children.

“‘Why are they trying to sell me something during the test?’” Deborah Poppe, a Long Island mother, quoted of her eighth grade son, according to the Associated Press. “He’s bright enough to realize that it was almost like a commercial.”

While many have issues with the new Common Core standards and its standardized tests on the whole, the AP noted that this issue with brand names seems specific to New York.

“It just seems so unnecessary,” Josh Golin, associate director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, told AP.

“It would be horrible if they were getting paid for it,” he said. “But even if they’re not, it’s taking something that should not be a commercial experience and commercializing it.”

In this Oct. 11, 2010 photo, a display of dolls, clothes, sets and accessories tied to a "Barbie, A Fashion Fairytale" promotion, are seen in a break area at the Design Center at the corporate headquarters campus of Mattel, Inc., in El Segundo, Calif. Barbie is among the easily recognizable product names that have appeared on standardized tests in New York taken by grades three through eight. Although education officials in New York State and the test publisher deny it, some parents wonder whether companies have paid to have their product names placed on the tests. (AP/Reed Saxon)

Barbie is among the easily recognizable product names that have appeared on standardized tests in New York taken by grades three through eight. Although education officials in New York State and the test publisher deny it, some parents wonder whether companies have paid to have their product names placed on the tests. (AP/Reed Saxon)

New York State Education Department and Pearson, the test publisher that has a $32 million contract to produce tests in the state for five years, said they do not pay companies for the use of their brand names and added that they include the registered trademark symbol for legal purposes.

“There are no product placement deals between us, Pearson or anyone else,” Tom Dunn, a spokesman for the Education Department, told the AP. “No deals. No money. We use authentic texts. If the author chose to use a brand name in the original, we don’t edit.”

Neither Nike nor Wrigley knew their specific trademarks were being used, while other companies contacted by the AP declined to comment or respond.

Some, like Virginia Commonwealth University marketing professor Kelly O’Keefe, don’t believe branding belongs in a place like standardized tests.

“Education, religion and civic life are places where brands are unwelcome,” O’Keefe told AP. “It would be wise for Pearson to avoid using brands in their testing even if they’re not paid for by the brand itself.”

But others think it’s acceptable because brands are recognizable to students.

“Brands are part of our lives,” Allen Adamson, managing director of the brand consulting firm Landor Associates, said. “To say they don’t belong in academia is unrealistic.”

(H/T: Daily Mail)

Front page image via Shutterstock.

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