Objective: To help students analyse a set of advertisements and understand their responses to them.
Learning Outcomes: An awareness of how the advertisement is created, making an advertisement and critically analysing it.
Age Level: 12 to 14 years.
Duration: 2 sessions of 1 hour and a third session of 2 hours.
Preparation and Material Required: Cuttings of print advertisements put up on the notice board, a questionnaire to initiate discussion, objects to be advertised (paper clip, a pair of scissors, a pair of socks, bottle of glue, pen etc.), stationery.
The advertisement is introduced as the topic and the students brainstorm the various kinds of advertisements that they are aware of. They speak of advertisements they have liked and explain why. The students also look over a collection of advertisements culled from newspapers and magazines on the display board. Why do companies advertise their products? Why do newspapers and magazines carry advertisements? How are advertisements made attractive/ effective? These are some questions discussed.
Examining the Advertisement:
(On the display board there are three cuttings of advertisements for shoes and sports apparel.)
The students study these and answer the questions in the given questionnaire individually. These questions aim at eliciting responses, and there are no right and wrong answers. After the task the students share their responses. Time andspace is provided for a discussion.
- Which advertisement has the strongest impact at first sight? Why?
- What product(s) are being advertised in each advertisement?
- What message does the advertisement intend to convey by using the following : a) a shark b) an international sports figure c) the shape of a tie
- Read the 'copy' (the text) of any one advertisement - the bold print, the fine print, and the slogan, if any, and list the messages. Discuss and identify the assumptions they contain.
- For the Dunlop advertisement, what is the sport shown in the visual? To what sport do the names in the copy refer to? Do you notice a discrepancy? Why do you think this is so?
- What target group (age, social and financial background, interest) is the product aimed at? From what clues do you make your inference?
- When you last bought yourself a pair of footwear or sports gear, to what extent were you influenced by: a) the brand name, b) a particular advertisement?
Creating an Advertisement:
- The class is divided into small groups of four or five, and each group is given the task of creating an advertisement for an object of everyday use - for example, a paper clip, scissors, socks, bottle of glue, pen.
- At the outset they decide on the price of the product, the target consumers and the magazine theywould want to advertise in.
- The groups brainstorm and arrive at various possible strategies/concepts for making a persuasive advertisement; they explore various possibilities and choose one to create an actual advertisement . with visuals and copy.
- The advertisements are displayed by each group, the techniques used identified, the messages and assumptions uncovered. The effectiveness of each advertisement is commented upon.
The following books and web resources are very useful:
- In the Absence of the Sacred. Jerry Mander
- Manufacturing Consent - The Political Economy of the Mass Media. Edward S. Hermann and Noam Chomsky. Pantheon Books, NewYork.
- Essential McLuhan. Edited by Eric McLuhan and Frank Zingrove. Basic Books: a division of Harper Collins.