SuperValu: Kids in Action

Kids in Action

SuperValu Supermarkets (Musgrave SuperValu-Centra)

In Brief

SuperValu: Kids in Action


As the second “FREE” sports scheme this school year seeking to promote a brand and generate sales through schools, we oppose SuperValu’s Kids in Action and urge teachers and parents not to participate.

“Making a healthy lifestyle part of every pupil’s future!”

Incentive Scheme – voucher collection.

2005-06 (1st year)

Past Record:
Since 2004, SuperValu have supported Buntús, a non-commercial scheme developed by the Irish Sports Council, which provided schools throughout Ireland with PE equipment, instructional cards and training sessions for teachers. The Sports Council explained the supermarkets interest in the initiative, when it said that “Super Valu will in-turn promote its ‘community positioning’ as well as its nutritious own-brand range with Buntús.”

In 2005, following the launch of Tesco’s Sports for School, SuperValu piloted Kids in Action in 109 primary schools in Co. Meath. Unlike Buntús, this was an incentive scheme with schools having to collect bundles of €10 vouchers to obtain any equipment.

In expanding their pilot scheme to a nation wide voucher programme SuperValu undertook a major marketing campaign involving radio and television advertisements with presenter Ray D’Arcy and athlete Sonia O’ Sullivan.

Schools received individually designed letters addressed to the principal by name and asking

“Principal ________, who can give the pupils of St. ______ a sporting chance?”

“You can Principal ________, with the SuperValu Kids in Action Free Sports Equipment for Primary Schools!”

Inside, the letter presents an equation where

“Principal ______, + Teachers + ____ pupils + Parents + Relations = Free Sports Equipment for St. _______”

Schools have 10 weeks to obtain vouchers from SuperValu supermarkets in return for €10 worth of shopping. Double vouchers are issued for sale of fruit and vegetables. The equipment is listed in a catalogue which shows the number of vouchers required ranging from 21 to 37, 125.


Curricular Relevance



Influence on Spending

SuperValu’s incentive scheme is the second high profile, celebrity-endorsed, vouchers for sports equipment scheme to be targeted at the “School market” this educational year. Like its predecessor, Tesco’s Sports for School, this scheme is founded on the principle that the more you spend the be resources your child’s education will be. .

Schools are once more invited to promote a multinational supermarket brand to students, their parents, relatives and neighbours in order to implement the P.E. curriculum which the government no longer provide equipment grants for.

With limited time to amass the vouchers tokens required and a national advertising campaign on the radio and television there is huge pressure on children and parents to direct their purchases especially for this scheme.

A brief example of the parental spend required at SuperValu illustrates plainly what is expected of schools and how “Free” this equipment it.

Gaelic Football = €3,950 worth of shopping / Online retail price €18

Rugby Ball = € 2,690 worth of shopping / Online retail price €13

Tennis Racket = €3,090 worth of shopping / Online retail price €25

Schools seeking a basketball skills coaching bag will have to generate a massive €70,000 spend at SuperValu and a “FREE” Indoor Hurley stick is only available to those who account for €3,800 worth of shopping.

As the second “FREE” sports scheme this school year seeking to promote a brand and generate sales through schools, we oppose SuperValu’s Kids in Action and urge teachers and parents not to participate.

We consider this to be a slick and carefully marketed scheme designed to exploit underfunding of PE equipment in schools and promote SuperValu’s “community positioning”. Children who were told in September to ensure Mammy/Daddy shop in Tesco are now to be reprogrammed to pester for SuperValu vouchers – this is anti-educational and unconscionable.

The Campaign for Commercial-Free Education believes Kids in Action pressurises principals, students and parents though its letters, media advertisements, celebrity endorsements and promises of “FREE” sports equipment.

The guideline that parents should not be “put under undue pressure to purchase a particular commercial product”, is openly flaunted as SuperValu engage in a bidding war for commercial control of schools. It is simply not the job of teacher or school to direct parental shopping, to endorse one supermarket over another or to do the work of commercial marketers. What supermarket will be next?

In opposing Super Valu Kids in Action scheme we encourage people to make their views known to schools and to support direct fundraising appeals from schools who abstain from this commercial initiative. Government must also be made aware that they must back up their professed concern about childhood obesity with proper funding for Irish schools and their PE curricula.