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Grade 3-5, 6-8

Be An Ad Detective

Updated: April 18 2016,
Author: Patricia Bonner


TV CommercialWhat do you do when the television program you are watching is interrupted by a commercial message? Do you hurry to the kitchen for a snack? Do you make a phone call or talk with family members who are also watching?

Advertisers know that people are ignoring many traditional advertising techniques like TV commercials. As a result, businesses are becoming more creative in where they place their ads.

Task List

Put on your detective hat. You are going to be an Ad Detective investigating the many places in which businesses advertise. You are going to learn how advertisers try to develop brand awareness.


Activity 1: Be an Ad Detective

Go to this PBS Kids web site to learn about some of the latest advertising locations.

Activity 2: Advertising Clues

Did you notice that all of these ads were based only on names and logos? Businesses often use names, logos and imaginary characters in their advertising. After you see these brand images a few times, they are all you need to identify the product and the business selling it. You might think of these visual symbols as advertising clues.

Advertisers hope that when you like a sports event, celebrity or video game, you will associate that good feeling with them and their products. That’s the idea behind branding—the creation of positive feelings about a certain business or what it sells.

Some businesses also use slogans and jingles. Slogans are a few catchy words that you identity with a product and the business that makes it. When words of this sort are put to music, the result is called a jingle. These little songs are usually fun and easy to sing. Slogans and jingles often help you remember a product’s benefits and features. Use this interactive activity to test your knowledge of jingles. Go to this PBS Kids web site to learn about some of the latest advertising locations. STOP when you are asked to click on the arrow that takes you back to "Advertising Tricks."


  1. Write down three other brand images you have seen. Why do you think you remember them?
  2. What other slogans and jingles do you remember?
  3. What do you think makes these effective advertising tools?


KeeblerLogos, imaginary characters, slogans and jingles—they are created to help fix a brand name and message in your mind. Businesses hope you will have a good feeling when you see and hear them. They hope this good feeling will influence your buying decisions.

Assessment Activity

Use the Be an Ad Detective worksheet to find more ads and the places where they are located.

Extension Activity

  1. According to one estimate, the average young person in the United States gets about 1,500 advertising messages daily. With your classmates, keep track of all the advertisements you see and hear in one day. Divide the day so each of your classmates is responsible for just a small part of the day. For the hours from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., for example, one or two of you might be responsible for one hour. Count all ads you see and hear – those on television, the radio, the Internet, billboards, buses, and theater marquees, etc. When you are finished, total your findings.
  2. Clip logos, imaginary characters and slogans from magazines, newspapers, packages, etc. Write down slogans and jingles you hear on TV and radio.  Share what you find with your classmates.
  3. Walk through your school and your school grounds looking for advertisements. This Center for Commercial Free Public Education web page will give you ideas about where to look.