Media and Advertising

Images and database information for over 7,000 advertisements printed in U.S. and Canadian newspapers and magazines between 1911 and 1955. Five main subject areas: Radio, Television, Transportation, Beauty and Hygiene, and World War II.

Adbusters Culture Jammers
From the folks who bring us "Buy Nothing Day," ads against ads, or, more properly, against the materialistic mindset. A good site for showing students a contrasting point of view. (Caution: some material may not be appropriate for the classroom.)

Advertising & Rhetoric
Students employ rhetorical devices to write product descriptions for the SkyMall catalog.

Campaign Promises
Students analyize political ads and commercial ads, looking for generalizing, scare tactics, and exaggeration. This interactive lesson is designed for adult learners and may work with high school students, too.

Campaigns That Have Made A Difference
Do public service announcements have an impact? These did. Check campaigns dating back to 1942, including Smokey Bear, Iron Eyes Cody, and the crash test dummies.

Discovering National Parks
Students will learn about the history of America's national parks, and learn about the role that artists played in their creation and maintenance. As a culminating activity, students will create an ad campaign designed to promote America's national parks. Designed for grades 5-8.

Don't Buy It, Get Media Smart
This site is sponsored by PBS and designed for upper-elementary-level students. Kids learn about advertising tricks and how to "buy smart." Interdisciplinary, standards-based activities are available on the Teacher page.

Emergence of Advertising in America: 1850-1920
This database presents examples of advertising. It is browsable by category or searchable.

Exploring Consumerism Where Ads and Art Intersect
In this lesson, students look at how advertisements use images and language to appeal to consumers. They then look at examples of art that use images from popular culture. Finally, students create their own artistic interpretations of advertisements, present them, and reflect upon the nature of consumerism in their lives. This lesson can be adapted for use in middle school classrooms.

The Key to Media's Hidden Codes
Colors, camera angles and logos in the media can all prompt immediate associations with emotions, activities and memories. Learn to decode the intricate system of symbols that are a part of everyday life — from advertising messages to traffic signs. This 6-minute video includes follow-up questions.

Learning to Think: A Foundation for Analysis
Students analyze an ad to develop critical thinking skills. Designed for grades 9-12.

Media Awareness lessons designed for grades 5-8:

  1. The Basics of Advertising
    Students will develop a general understanding of marketing and its influence. Using an advertisement for a kid-oriented product, students will discuss what appeals to them about each item, brainstorm different categories of kid-oriented products, and explore the concept of target audiences. They will then apply learned knowledge to draw a picture of the product (using basic elements and principles of art) to create background and foreground in the drawing.
  2. Key Concepts in Advertising
    Students will specifically discuss the following terms: purpose, target audience, and value of advertisements. Students will also examine the advertisements that they have brought to class from home. Students will then begin to add details, such as text and symbols, and color to their original, hand-drawn advertisements.
  3. Helping a Product Cross the Finish Line
    As a culminating activity, students will be grouped into "development" and "marketing" departments of an imaginary company, creating a new children’s product as well as a marketing strategy.

Medicine and Madison Avenue
This collection holds about 600 American ads for health-related products produced from about 1910 to about 1950. Don't miss the "suggestions for classroom use."

The Merchants of Cool
The Frontline documentary has been broken into 6 segments for easier online viewing. Follow the link to find a teacher guide.

Persuade Me
Students analyze the persuasive techniques found in junk mail. Designed for grades 6-8.

The Power of Advertising: Big Tobacco vs. Anti-Smoking Campaigns
Students "take a critical look at how tobacco companies have marketed their products over the years. They also check out the leading anti-smoking campaign's efforts, and compare their tactics in swaying the public's health choices."

Team up for Sports Marketing!
Students create a marketing campaign for a sports team. They create press releases, business cards, and ads or commercials, all using advertising techniques they have studied.

Truth in Advertising
Students identify types of ads, analyze them, and respond to them.

Understanding the Media: Movie Posters
Students analyze movie posters for persuasive technique.

Watching the Watchers
Students identify, explore, and analyze the effects of their daily exposure to advertising. This lesson includes reading an article from the New York Times and looking at examples explicit and subtle advertising.