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English 12 (O2), R.


Advertising Techniques & Persuasion (PSAs)
Summary Advertisements are, obviously, very prevalent in our world — whether on billboards, on television, the radio, the internet, sneakers, t-shirts… This isn’t necessarily a bad thing in and of itself, so far as individuals are aware of the techniques advertisers employs in order to make sales, and how these techniques manipulate the audience. Understanding the mechanisms that advertisers use will make consumers more thoughtful; it ought to be an empowering shift in thinking. At the end of this lesson, the student should be able to use persuasive language and techniques to convince the audience of a point of view. Students should be able to recognize techniques employed by advertisers and to critically evaluate these techniques, so that they are not persuaded without good critical thought first. SCOs: 1.2 (ask discriminating questions to analyze/evaluate ideas for information); 1.3 (advocate a position on an issue in a convincing manner showing an understanding of a range of viewpoints); 1.4 (listen critically to analyze/evaluate others’ ideas and information); 2.2 (effectively adapt language and delivery for a variety of audiences and situations); 2.4 (reflect critically on and evaluate uses of language); 3.2 (demonstrate how spoken language influences, manipulates, and reveals ideas and perceptions); 3.3 (address the demands of various speaking situations); 4.1-4.5; 6.2 (articulate and defend viewpoints about texts); 7.3 (examine how texts reveal/produce ideologies, culture, reality, meaning); 8.3 (make effective choices of language and techniques to enhance imaginative writing and other ways of representing); 9.2 (demonstrate an understanding of how text construction can create/enhance/control meaning; make critical choices of form, style, and content); 9.3 (evaluate the responses of others to their writing/multimedia projects); 10.2 (accurately use the conventions of written language in final products); 10.3 (use technology effectively to serve their communication purposes; design texts they find aesthetically pleasing/useful) Magazines, paper, scissors, glue, access to computers/technology. Students should have access to all the materials necessary to create their advertising campaigns.


Outcomes Met



English 12 (O2), R. Wheadon Pre-Work Photocopy a list of advertising’s common appeals (Jib Fowles) plus information on other forms of appeals (Aristotle, etc.). Queue up some advertising campaigns that are contemporary so that students can collaboratively analyze what techniques are at work. Ensure students have access to numerous magazines for their group work. Photocopy hand-outs/assignment sheet Prepare presentation on advertising. Develop/photocopy Peer Review sheets Prepare loose paper for responses/reviews (mid-week)

Plan Warm-Up 1. Mini-lecture: Briefly introduce the project we’ll be doing. Ask (1 classes) what people know about PSAs — how do they differ from advertisements? Are they advertisements by another name? 2. Distribute hand-outs on advertising appeals. Break into pre-determined groups. Each group will be responsible for a PSA and analyzing it (using the provided hand-out and sheets from earlier in the week). 10 mins. 3. Once small groups have discussed their PSAs, bring the class back in and discuss as a group. Each group will explain what they’ve found, as they’re now the ‘expert’ on that campaign. Review the other PSAs in the presentation (SlideRocket). 4. If there is extra time, discuss what we’ll be beginning on Monday (the project). Clarify any questions about appeals. Brainstorm potential campaign ideas. Main Act 1. (First class) Assign this week’s project if this hasn’t been discussed (3-4 classes) previously. If it has been, review. Give students 5-10 minutes to come up with a product/service they’ll be advertising in the class and then split into break-out rooms. Highlight importance of check-ins (implement a policy wherein they need to go through each step and get a teacher to initial before proceeding when check-ins are required). 2. Students should have the majority of class time to work on these projects. Ideally, in each class, groups will come and meet with you to receive feedback. 3. Students should meet with other groups at the start of the second day and receive peer feedback. Advertising campaigns should be adjusted accordingly (peer review/critique worksheets to be handed in with final projects).


English 12 (O2), R. Wheadon Conclusion 1. Presentation of advertisements to the class. After each (1 class) presentation, the class will discuss what techniques the group used and if the advertisements are effective. Final peer review sheets to be completed. This should assess if students have understood how to analyze advertising as well as if they can create advertisements. 2. Depending on number of groups/depth of presentations, there may be additional time. If so, have students review what they have learned this unit — gather their reflections, points, ideas and keep for future use. This should also work to gauge understanding (assessment). 3. Have students complete an exit slip. Assessment Students will, in groups of three to four, create a PSA campaign that comprises two PSA-types (collaged, drawn, radio ads, video ads, web ads, etc.), which will use at least two different appeals. The PSA can be for a serious issue — suicide awareness — or something made up. They can be silly (double-tap with zombies!) or not silly (anti-bullying campaign). These campaigns, once completed, will be shared with the class at the end of the week and, together, we will analyze how each campaign functions, if it is effective (persuasive), and what the viewer might think or feel after encountering the PSAs. Students will be able to choose the level of their campaign — is it aimed at children? at university students? at middle-aged adults? at seniors? This should build in enough room for differentiated outcomes. Students who have difficulty working with others could create one advertisement on their own; students who have difficulty writing could create a visual ad. Instructions for campaign have been clearly chunked and made into a sequential list. If final class concludes early, lead a class-wide discussion on the lesson/ unit. What have we learned (if anything)? How did you like the final project? What would you change? Big questions are okay too: Is persuasion good or bad? Should ads be allowed to be in schools? Students who finish their advertising campaigns well ahead of time will be encouraged to extend their campaign for bonus points: consider a new target audience and how you could adapt your campaign. Research/ Resources Fowles, Jib. “Advertising’s Fifteen Basic Appeals.” Reading Popular Culture. Eds. Michael Petracca and Madeleine Sorapure. Penguin Academics, 2011. Tallim, Jane. “Online Marketing to Kids: Strategies and Techniques.” Mediasmarts. SlideRocket presentation Kerin Martin’s hand-outs on media/persuasion




English 12 (O2), R. Wheadon

“Advertising’s Fifteen Basic Appeals” (from Reading Popular Culture) Jib Fowles
Advertisements tend to go about persuading consumers on two levels: the first is “the appeal to deep-running drives in the minds of consumers” (think about your subconscious needs/emotions/ impulses – the list of appeals that follows). However, in order to be effective, ads can’t just make you feel something. That feeling needs to connect to a product, or a viewpoint, or an argument, etc. Advertisements thus also provide “information regarding the good[s] or service being sold.” Think of it like this: our thought processes are comprised of two parts. We feel and we think. We respond instinctively or subconsciously, but we also process thoughts logically. If we’re angry at someone and feel like hurting them, we tend to stop and think about what we’re doing; this “upper layer of mental activity” is comprised largely of “caution and rationality.” Advertisers “want to circumvent this [logical/careful] shell of consciousness if they can, and latch on to one of the lurching subconscious drives.” PSAs (Public Service Announcements) are much like any other advertising campaign; some even seek to solicit donations. But what PSAs are selling is primarily message. Instead of selling a pair of shoes or a perfume, PSAs market points of view, ideas, stances. The same techniques, however, translate over from pedaling products to pedaling messages, and each type of advertisement relies upon persuasion. Remember: a message is still a product. In addition to the techniques we have already discussed (bandwagon, glittering generalities, testimonials, etc.), advertisers also use appeals that attack that subconscious, impulsive, reactive part of our brain. Remember, any appeal can be positive (this product is associated with, say, friendship!) or negative (if you do this, you will be forever alone). Advertisements are complex, and tend to employ a variety of appeals in tandem, in addition to style (humour, shock value, endorsement, etc.). 1. Need for sex – Surprisingly, Fowles finds that only 2 percent of the television ads he surveyed used this appeal. It may be too blatant and often detracts from the product. Think of it this way: if you’re startled by a picture of a naked person (or several naked people), you’re hardly going to remember what is being sold. 2. Need for affiliation – Despite the fact that we tend to live quite isolated lives, advertisers often market to a sense of belonging. This can take the form of romantic relationships, family relationships, or friendships. 3. Need to nurture – Human beings tend to care about cute and small things, such as children and kittens and puppies. Whether advertising to end child poverty, or to give your puppy the kibble she deserves, this appeal can be emotionally powerful. 4. Need for guidance – This is linked to the need for affiliation. Looking to a parental figure, or an authority figure in whom you can trust, evokes a sense of childhood ease.


English 12 (O2), R. Wheadon While some advertisements appeal to the need to nurture, this appeal is grounded in the need to be nurtured. 5. Need to aggress – Many of us have had a desire to get even, and some advertisers play on this. Even associating violence or rebellion with a product can tap into this need (“There’s a tiger in your tank” – appeals to feelings of aggressive assertion). 6. Need to achieve – This is a need that motivates many people throughout their lives and careers. It tends to rely on an association between a product and victory, or winning, or success. 7. Need to dominate – This is linked to the need to achieve and the need to aggress, and is in tension with the need for affiliation. This appeal relies on the need to feel powerful and in control. Although often coded as masculine, it can be tapped into for any gender. 8. Need for prominence – We want to be admired and respected, to have high social status. This need often taps into class tensions/structures and reinforces the idea that our society is “not so egalitarian after all.” 9. Need for attention – The need for attention is grounded in “the need to be looked at. The desire to exhibit ourselves in such a way as to make others look at us is a primitive, insuppressible instinct.” This is a technique used primarily to market to women, but applies to all genders. 10. Need for autonomy – Unlike the need for guidance, the need for autonomy reminds the consumer that he or she wants to do things his or her own way. It is “the need to endorse the self” – to highlight the “independence and integrity of the individual.” 11. Need to escape – This appeal hits up the pervasive desire to leave it all behind, to “duck out of our social obligations, to seek rest or adventure.” It tends to focus on the individual, although escape for multiple people – forgetting about that meeting over a cup of Van Houtte at a cabin with one’s partner – is a possibility as well. 12. Need to feel safe – Humans are hard-wired for self-preservation, and working in ways to prevent future harm is a primordial impulse. Think of ads for life insurance, or ads for cars that have been rated as extremely safe. 13. Need for aesthetic sensations – Ads that are ugly will not do well. Humans are visual creatures, and lay-out, colour, image, text placement, font choices, music choices all factor in to how we respond to advertisements. 14. Need to satisfy curiosity – Facts support our belief that information is quantifiable, and by using numbers, graphs, and data, advertisers tap into our innate appreciation for knowledge. 15. Physiological needs – Appeals to our need to sleep, eat, drink (and, arguably, have sex) all fit here. Food advertisements that glorify food with extreme close-ups are excellent examples of this type of ad. (Summary adapted from Ventura English)


English 12 (O2), R. Wheadon

Aristotle’s Appeals
Aristotle claimed that appeals fall under three branches: 1) Logos – appealing to a sense of logic, rationality; this logic does not always need to be sound, but it appears persuasive because of its apparent rationality 2) Pathos – Appealing to the audience’s passions/emotions 3) Ethos – Relies on the credibility of the persuader. To be credible, the persuader must have good morals, good sense, and good will. It is the root of the word ethics.

Modern Day Appeals (Shcenck-Hamlin)
Appeals are based on: 1. Sanctions - Motivation through rewards punishment 2. Needs - Appeals to human motivations and values (i.e. belonging, self-esteem, self awareness, etc.) 3. Rationales - Uses supporting evidence. Types of Appeals Sanctions Fear Promise Ingratiation Debt Allurement Aversive stimulation Warning Examples

If you don’t do this, horrible things will happen. If you do this, I will do something for you/give you something. I have already done nice things so you will honour my request. You owe me for past favours. Other people will reward you for this behaviour. I will continue to punish you until you concede. Other people/events will cause you unhappiness if you don’t comply

Needs Belonging Security Esteem (positive) Esteem (negative)

Other people will like you if you comply. You will be safe if you comply. Your self-worth will increase if you comply. Your self-worth will decrease if you don’t comply. Others will think less of you.

Rationales Direct request Explanation Hinting

Please do this. This is the logical thing to do. (Evidence provided) I’m not going to tell you what to do. I’m going to give you hints until you do this of your own accord.


English 12 (O2), R. Wheadon English 12 Ms. Wheadon

PSAs and Persuasion
Objective: Create a PSA (Public Service Announcement) campaign with your group members. Be sure to use persuasive techniques, and to make use of advertising’s appeals (see class handouts for more information). 1. Choose a message. Remember: your message is your product; it is what you’re selling. You can either choose a serious message (for example, an anti-bullying campaign, an impaired driving campaign), or you can choose something a bit more light-hearted (for example, the importance of the double-tap when surviving a zombie apocalypse). Once you have chosen your message, come and see me to check in. 2. Choose two types of advertisements to create and be sure you use at least two appeals/ techniques. You could do a visual ad (as in for a billboard/magazine), a script for a radio spot, a script for a commercial (complete with stage direction), a jingle, etc. Once you have chosen what you would like to do, come and see me to check in. Be sure you have ideas brainstormed so that I can monitor your progress. 3. Choose whether you would like to divide the work between your group members, or if you would all like to work together. Use class time to begin your advertisements, keeping in mind how you’re going to persuade your viewers that your message is spot-on. Think about why you’re making the decisions you’re making; be sure to have a rationale. 4. Class check in. Mid-way through the week, we will have a class check in. Be prepared to explain to your classmates what you’ve been doing, the progress you’ve made, and the rationale behind your choices. Keep track of feedback. 5. Take what your classmates have said to heart, and think about revising your campaign. Continue working on your project, and be sure your have reasons for all of the choices you have made. 6. On the final day, you will present your campaign to your peers, who will then respond via rubric evaluating your campaign’s effectiveness. If pressed for time, you may only present one of your advertisements (a radio ad, or a print ad), but be prepared to present both. Note: I will provide a limited number of supplies (magazines, markers, glue, etc.) for visual campaigns if you want to draw and/or collage. Think about incorporating elements from outside of class as well, and consider bringing in things from home.