Commercial Lesson -- Focus on Advertising Techniques

By Kellie Hayden

Students will watch television and find advertising techniques used in the commercials. They will work in small cooperative groups during activities. Many states standards and indicators include these persuasive techniques used in the media under the communication: oral and visual standard.

Analysis of Commercials

Some parents may raise eyebrows when students are asked to watch television to analyze persuasive techniques used by advertisers. However, students will enjoy this activity and learn advertising techniques. And, parents may be happy to find that their children are learning how the marketers and the advertisers try to manipulate them through the use of persuasive techniques.

Create Handout Packet for Commercial Assignment

Teachers will need to create a packet for the students to use when analyzing the commercials. Students will need the advertising terms and definitions A-M and P-W. They will also need a list of questions to answer when they watch the commercials:

What time did the commercial start and end?

What was the product advertised?

What was the slogan and/or jingle used?

What technique(s) were used? Explain how the technique was used.

Who was the target audience for the advertisement?

What television show(s) was/were on before and after the commercial?

Did you enjoy or like this commercial? Why?

Assign Television Watching Homework

Teachers will need to first discuss advertisement terms and definitions in the handout and the questions. Tip: Teachers may be able to show commercials from YouTube to show examples of the advertising techniques. Assign students to watch three-to-five commercials for homework.

Discuss Findings

After students have completed the homework, discuss the techniques used in the commercials. Questions for discussion:

Which commercials were the students' favorite ones? Did they find that they were the target audience for the commercial? Was the television show that was on before or after the commercial a favorite show?

Did they see any examples of bias or stereotyping? How did this affect or not affect them?

What were the most memorable slogans and/or jingles?

What commercials most effectively used a technique?

Students Make Their Own Commercial

After students have discussed what makes a great commercial, assign them to make their own. Place students into small cooperative groups of three-to-six students. Each group needs to select a product, slogan, target audience, and advertisement technique.

The commercial needs to be organized and produced by the group. All do not need to be "in" the commercial, but the entire team needs to make a script, collect props and stage the commercial. The commercials can be completed "live" in front of the class or can be recorded earlier.

Assess the commercials with a rubric. Criteria for the rubric can be teamwork, organization, advertisement techniques, and execution of the commercial.