To introduce teens to the concept of advertising analysis, and equip them with tools to do such analysis.
- Read up on advertising (read Hugh Rank’s The Pitch, if available).
- Videotape 3-4 advertisements (see Group Presentation); set up a television and VCR before the meeting.
- Pick one prop for the Group Building activity; before the meeting, train other leaders or a couple of kids to perform the skits.
- Collect discussion questions to use with the larger group and in the small groups.
- Make an illustrative overhead of the five stages of The Pitch.
Have other leaders or a few kids perform three short skits. In a humorous, ridiculous way, illustrate some different forms of persuasive selling techniques. Use a boring, functional object (such as a stapler or paper cup) and try to “sell” the object through
- Celebrity endorsement.
- Sexual persuasion.
- Social acceptance among peers.
This introduces kids to an exaggerated form of the more subtle persuasion they will see in the group presentation.
First, show three diverse advertisements: one with passionately blatant sexual overtones (such as perfume or jeans commercials); one encouraging community, social engagements, parties (such as beer commercials); and one projecting strong materialistic values (such as credit card commercials).
In a large group, briefly discuss such questions as:
- What appeals to you in this advertisement? (The actors? the graphics? The music?)
- What do you think are the overt and covert messages to your age group?
- What is the main persuasive technique in each advertisement? (See The Pitch for more questions.)
Then take one of the advertisements-the one the kids liked the best-and show it again. Divide into small groups identify the five stages of persuasion according to your overhead outline from The Pitch.
Close the meeting summarizing how advertising not only tries to sell something, but also influences our attitudes regarding materialism, social acceptance, and sex. Emphasize the value of thinking through these issues, and ask the kids if they can think of any other types of propaganda infiltrating their lives.
As a means of evaluating their interest and understanding of the material presented, give kids a handout of the five stages of The Pitch and ask them to analyze their favorite commercial and report back to the group at the next meeting.
This is a good way to introduce a 3-4 week unit on advertising and how it influences teen attitudes and values. Spend the next three weeks going into more depth on the three areas touched during this meeting (one week for each: sex, materialism, and social acceptance). Pick more subtle advertisements to show in the following weeks; challenge kids to use their analytical ability.
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