Presenter: Amanda Stiglbauer
Every day, students are bombarded by advertising. They cannot escape it. But marketers realize that many people—especially young people—are becoming very good at tuning ads out. Businesses thus are becoming more creative in their communication with consumers. In this lesson, the students assume the role of detectives searching for the new places where advertisers are promoting themselves and their products. They also investigate logos, imaginary characters, slogans and jingles—tools used by advertisers to develop brand awareness.
This lesson works well as a follow-up to the EconEdLink lesson Did You Get the Message?
Show the students several different forms of advertising — for example, a newspaper ad, a catalog, a direct mail flyer, a shopping bag with a store logo, an item of clothing such as a hat or T-shirt with the name of a company on it, and a pre-recorded television commercial. Discuss:
Explain to the students that they are going to investigate the many places where businesses advertise and how businesses use brands to help us remember them and what they sell.
[NOTE: Students may want to look at the Believe It or Not lesson, which is also an advertisement lesson.]
Activity 1: Be an Ad Detective
At this PBS Kids web site, the students are told they have been hired by Don’t Buy It, Inc. as an Ad Detective. They are directed to examine four pictures and find where the ads are hidden. Some ads are obvious but others are not. As students try to identify these ads, they are told:
Activity 2: Advertising Clues
The students are asked whether they noticed that all of the ads in the previous activity are based only on names and logos. They learn that businesses often use names, logos, and imaginary characters to establish brand awareness. The idea behind branding is to create positive feelings about a certain business or what it sells. Examples shown are the Apple computer logo, Mr. Clean and the Keebler elves.
Slogans and jingles that relay positive messages are also discussed. Examples include Tony the Tiger saying "They’re GRRRREAT!" for Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes, the Oscar Mayer Weiner Song and the jingle sung by the Green Giant. The students then complete an interactive activity that tests their knowledge of logos and jingles.
Ask the students to think about these questions in preparation for class discussion:
Conduct a class discussion of the students’ responses to the THINK ABOUT IT questions in Activity 2. Call on a few students to describe the logos they remember. Ask:
When the students have completed the Be an Ad Detective worksheet, you may also want to have them share some of their findings with the class. Ask:
[Note to teachers: In recent years, product placement in television shows, movies and video games has been occurring more and more frequently. This development provides a great source of current examples. At the time this lesson was written, cups of Coca Cola were appearing on the popular television show American Idol. The Survivor show featured Doritos, Pringles, various brands of cars and tools from Home Depot. A famous early product placement was Reese’s Pieces in the movie ET. Check to see whether your students realize that these product placements are actually ads and that the sellers often pay for inclusion in these entertainment venues.]
Have your students do additional detective work. Here are some possibilities:
Assessment is based on student completion of the Be an Ad Detective worksheet. As you may deem it necessary, do the first entry with your students so that they know precisely what to do with the worksheet.
Responses to class discussion questions may be evaluated as well.
Presenter: Amanda Stiglbauer