Think. Discuss. Act. Advertising

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Ads Create False Sense Of Reality

To show youth workers how advertising creates a false sense of reality.


(Download False Reality overview as a PDF)

Leader Preparation

It is important first of all to do some background study on the nature of advertising, to be able to present clearly how, why, what, where, and on whom advertising focuses.

Also needed for this group are the following:

  • Clippings from a variety of magazine advertisements.
  • A short video with several advertisement spots edited together to highlight themes for discussion.
  • Copies of magazines for reference to different advertisements.
  • Supplies for designing advertisements-crayons, paper, posterboard, etc.

Group Building

Depending on the number of participants, divide the group into smaller groups of four or five. Give each group a specific product to sell (that is, car, cleaning products, food, soft drink, etc.). Each group is to develop their own advertisement to try to sell their particular product to the rest of the group. They can use any medium they want. Each group will have 15 minutes to complete their advertisement.

When all groups are finished, have them present their advertisements to the group (to the best of their ability, depending on medium they choose; for example, a video presentation would be performed as a skit). After the groups finish their presentations, have them explain why they did certain things in their advertisements.

Group Presentation

A lead-in reminder of the topic (advertising manipulating one’s sense of reality) should be given as you move into the following segments:

  • Present a collage of clippings of ads from magazines.
  • Follow with a 5-10 minute video with clippings from ads that appear on television.

Group Discussion

Following are the questions to be covered during the group discussion:

  • What general message does each advertisement communicate?
  • What lifestyle do these advertisements present and how is that lifestyle attained?
  • Are there any positive messages coming from the advertisements? If so, what?
  • Are there any negative messages being given from these ads? If so, what?
  • How do these ads affect you? How do they affect adolescents who see them?


The values that most advertisements in society today exhalt are wealth, attractiveness, fitness, good fashion…to be a valuable part of humanity. Youth workers need to be aware of these messages and learn how to process them individually and corporately.

Evaluation and Follow-Up

  • Ask the participants to list the names of the magazines that adorn their home and make note of the lifestyle those magazines promote.
  • Encourage them to investigate their own wardrobes to identify the brand names of clothing they own. How many of those brands are advertised in the magazines and on TV?
  • Ask each group member, upon careful reflection on the things they buy and why they buy them, to give an honest report on how much advertising affects their own personal views and lifestyles.


  1. This exercise will raise the awareness of the messages communicated through advertising. With this information, participants will be able to see how much of who they are is often influenced by advertising.
  2. Youth workers need to discuss with kids the ways in which ads can be detrimental.
  3. When a youth professional recognizes that a person has been falsely driven by advertising, he or she should work with that individual to address those falsehoods.
  4. This exercise can easily be adapted to kids. Help them understand materialism and how it can control their lives, their money, and their total being.

Bill Fisher
© 2018 CYS

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