Making a Connection

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Students will interpret messages presented through advertising, becoming aware of how marketing companies sell products, services and ideas through carefully selected words and images.


1 class period, about 45 minutes


  • Copies of 4 newspaper advertisements, preferably half or full page ads. Try to find 4 very different looking ads. Samples of award-winning ads are provided. (See Grade 6, Lesson 4)
  • Language notebook or media journal
  • Teacher resource

The Lesson:

  1. Post all 4 ads on the board. Cover the ads with chart paper; reveal them one by one after students have had a chance to analyze each one.
  2. Remind students of what the purpose of advertising is. Have them refer to the chart paper lists they made in Lesson # 1 under the headings sell, service and idea.
  3. Reveal the first advertisement. Ask students to quickly write down in their notebook or journal their initial impressions of the ad. Do this for each of the 4 advertisements.
  4. Ask students to share their impressions with the class. Under each ad, write down the student suggestions. Do this for all 4 images.
  5. Ask students to “vote” on their favourite ad. This can be done with quick hands up count.
  6. Begin with the winning ad. Ask students the following questions:
    • Why do you like it?
    • What stands out in the ad? (a picture, drawing, words..)
    • What is the message in the ad?
    • Is the message clear? (emotions and feelings may be implied through images)
    • Who is the message directed at? (the target audience)
    • How does this ad make you feel? (choose this question only if it is appropriate to 1 of the 4 ads)
  7. Repeat the questions for the ad that came last in the vote.
  8. Ask students to write an entry in their notebook or journal answering the following question: What are the key differences between the two advertisements?


Written statements in language or media journal.


Teacher Resource – Creating an Advertisement

Millions of dollars are spent to produce a single multi media ad campaign. Nothing in an advertisement is left to chance. A commercial message is researched, scripted, produced, tested on focus groups and re-written before the consumer ever sees it. While television commercials can “speak” to a viewer through actors and background music, print advertising can also grab the reader with carefully selected pictures and text. To help students understand how advertisements are created, here are some of the common design techniques used in the industry.

Advertisements Use the Following Techniques to Appeal to Us

Snob appeal – this product is so good, only the chosen use it
Cool factor – you’ll be with the in crowd if you use this product
Special – special formulas set it apart from other similar products
Facts – research statistics are used to imply important information
Fear – if you don’t use this product, you will be embarrassed or ridiculed
Solution – a problem is presented, a solution is provided by the product
New – the product is new and the ad is being used to introduce it
Heart – the ad tugs at our heart strings, to get us to change our behaviour


How to Read an Advertisement

  1. What does the facial expression and body language of the model tell you about the product?
    If the model is smiling and relaxed, the image indicates that the product is fun and using it will make you happy.
  2. What camera angle is used on the product?
    When a product is tilted upward on an angle, this suggests power, rising success and achievement. Automobile ads sometimes show cars “driving” up the page.
  3. Who is the speaker?
    Celebrities carry a special status, as do white lab coats and moms. A celebrity endorsement can indicate this product is cutting edge, or has snob appeal. Ads for cold remedies sometimes have actors in lab coats, giving the visual impression that doctors recommend the product, which they do in some cases. Images of moms carry a trust factor; after all, if mom uses the product, it must be good for you.
  4. What colours were used?
    Different colours are used to provide visual cues as the meaning of the ad. Yellow and black indicate danger (think of a bumblebee). Purple has been used historically to represent royalty. Green tends to imply nature or natural.