Monday, November 5, 2007

LIVEbrary Lesson Plan #4: Made You Look

LIVEbrary Lesson Plan #4:
MADE YOU LOOK: Tricks and Tactics of the Ad Trade

(for a colorful, downloadable PDF version, click here)

Topic/Subject: Media Awareness
Age Range: 9-13
Grade Level: 4-8

- Reading
- Assignment
- Quiz
- Discussion Questions


"You're the Target"
an excerpt from the book
How Advertising Works and Why You Should Know

by Shari Graydon
Published by Annick Press
Reprinted here with permission.

~ You're the Bull's-eye ~

Once upon a time, advertisers didn't pay much attention to kids. They aimed their sales pitches at adults.

But things have certainly changed. Starting in the 1950s, advertisers began to realize that kids not only had money of their own to spend, but they also influenced a lot of their parents' shopping decisions.

Imagine a dartboard with a picture of you and your friends in the center of the board. You're now an important "target," and many advertisers think about *your* interests when designing their products and ads. In fact, advertisers in North America spend more than $12 billion a year trying to convince you to spend your money -- or your parents' money! -- on the stuff they're selling.

How can they afford to do this? Because the dollars they invest in advertising amount to a drop in the ocean compared to the dollars they get back when you respond to their sales pitches. In fact, some marketers estimate that kids in North America spend more than $100 billion every year on clothes, candy, games, videos, music, movies, and food.

~ Harnessing "Pester Power"~

Then there's what the advertisers call the "nag factor" or "pester power": they deliberately try to dream up ads that will help you to convince your parents to buy one kind of pizza instead of another, or rent this movie over that one. They conduct research to find out what kinds of commercials are most effective -- for example, which jingle or special meal deal is most likely to help you drag your mom or dad to the fast-food restaurant.

They also know that kids influence adults' decisions about much more expensive items, like computer equipment and family vacations. Car manufacturers have a name for this: they refer to 8- to 14-year-olds as "back-seat customers," recognizing that kids may even cast the deciding vote about which car their parents should buy. In fact, one kid's magazine -- meant to be read by people too young to have a driver's licence -- carried ads for minivans!

Some marketers estimate that kids have a say in close to $300 billion worth of their parents' spending. So some advertisers target *you* in order to get to adults.

~ Cradle to Grave Customers ~

Research also tells advertisers that if they hook you when you're young, chances are better that you'll keep buying their products as you get older. This is called "brand loyalty."

Shopping experts have figured out that a customer who regularly buys from the same store, from childhood until he or she dies, is worth as much as $100,000 to the store. So advertisers try to come up with what they call "cradle to grave" marketing strategies that will help them turn you into lifetime customers.

~ New & Unusual Places to See Ads ~

Advertising is inescapable. Here are some of the new (but not necessarily improved!) locations where advertising has cropped up just in the past few years:

  • Big stickers on supermarket floors promoting grocery items.

  • City buses painted from top to bottom and front to back with advertisers' sales pitches.

  • Ads inside bathroom stalls or above urinals in washrooms in schools, movie theaters and other public and private places.

  • Elevators with small TV monitors that play nothing but commercials.

  • Perfume samples attached to the back of Ticketmaster concert ticket envelopes.

  • Stickers promoting a TV program placed on fruit in grocery stores.

  • Cows or other livestock painted with an advertiser's logo or brand name.

  • Pepsi and Coke soft-drink ads painted on the Himalayan Mountains in India. (But the companies got in trouble and had to take them down!)

# # #

Copyright ©2007 by Shari Graydon. Excerpted from the book, MADE YOU LOOK: How Advertising Works and Why You Should Know. Published by Annick Press. ISBN 9781550378153 (library binding), ISBN 9781550378146 (paperback). Reprinted with permission. For more information, please visit Thank you.


Freeze Frame Five

Freeze Frame 1: Your Computer Screen

Have the students gather around the teacher's computer or view a computer projected on a screen. Now open an application, such as Microsoft Word. How many logos or brand names are visible on the screen? On my screen right now, I can see an Apple Computer logo, a Microsoft Word logo, a Google search logo, and the logos for about 20 software programs available in my dock. What can you see? Let the students identify all the logos or brand names on the teacher's screen or on a projected screen until no one can find anymore logos. How many did you find?

Freeze Frame 2: The Internet

Gather the students around the teacher's computer or a computer projected on a screen for the whole class to see. Now go to a popular commercial web page such as Discovery Kids, Scholastic Kids, MySpace, MSNBC, and freeze the frame. It's hard to freeze the frame when the ads keep moving, isn't it? Sometimes the STOP button on your web browser will freeze the frame. Count how many logos, brand names, and ads you see until no one can find any more. How many did you get? Now try a noncommercial site such as or Do you see commercials, logos, or brands? How many?

Freeze Frame 3: Your Cell Phone

Divide the classroom into teams, each team gathering around one student's cell phone. Turn the phone all the way off (it should be off in class, right?). Now with everyone watching, turn the phone on and count how many ads, brands, or logos you see while the phone is powering up. How many did you get? Are there other ways advertisers can get ads into your phone? Talk about some of them.

Freeze Frame 4: Your Television

If you have a way to record and playback TV in your classroom, you can record a few minutes of a daytime sporting event. You might be able to record this at home at night and bring the tape to class the next day, or let the kids do this project at home if they have a way to "freeze frame" a TV program. Playback and freeze frame the tape and have the kids identify all the logos or brands they see on the screen at once. Does the station project a logo? Does the show have a logo? Do the teams have logos? Are there ads on the walls of the stadium? Are people wearing hats or clothes with visible logos? Is there a logo on the scoreboard? Is there a logo in the scores crawling across the bottom of the screen? How many ads, logos, and brand names did you find?

Freeze Frame 5: Your Classroom

Places everyone! Let's find out how many logos, brand names, or ads are visible in the classroom right now. Students, raise your hand when you see one. Teacher, get ready to write them all down on the board or a piece of paper. The rules: 1. the logo, brand, or ad has to be visible, not inside of a closed book or closed closet and, 2. don't include brands or logos on people's clothing -- you would be counting all day long!


Freeze Frame Fridge: Open the refrigerator, look for 10 seconds, close the refrigerator. Write down all the brands, logos, or ads you saw. Freeze Frame Family Room: Sit down in your favorite spot in the family room, take a deep breath, look around and count all the logos, brands, and ads you see (even without the TV on). Freeze Frame Friends: Get together with some friends and count how many logos, brands, and ads are visible on the clothing in your group.


NOTE: Quiz answers are available to teachers upon request from Quiz answers will be revealed during the live Skype Chats and made a part of the Skype Chat Transcripts.

1) Matching. Many people say advertising doesn't affect them. Which slogan goes with which company? Match the letter of the slogan to the number of the company.

A. Live in Your World. Play in Ours.
B. Mm, mm good. Mm, mm good.
C. Maybe she's born with it, maybe it's...
D. Just do it.

1. Kellogg's Frosted Flakes cereal.
2. Sony Playstation
3. Nike shoes
4. Maybelline cosmetics
5. Campbell's Soup

2) Multiple choice. What does the word "logo" mean? Pick the best definition from the list below.
A. Crazy or insane.
B. Another name for the dance called "The Limbo."
C. A holy book, such as a Bible, Torah or Koran.
D. A symbol or design representing a company's brand.

3) Multiple choice. Which of the following is NOT an example of "cradle to grave marketing"?
A. Birthday clubs with free birthday rewards in exchange for registering your name, age, and contact information with a business or organization.
B. Warranty cards that make it sound like your rights are not activated unless you send in your registration (even though your rights are often protected by law whether you register or not).
C. A company that manufactures cribs and coffins.
D. Using a modern cartoon character to pitch breakfast cereal to kids on morning television programs and a "retro" cartoon character to pitch the same cereal to adults on evening programs.

4) Matching. How many ads can you legally cram into a 60-minute broadcast television program intended for children under the age of 12? Match the letter of the location to the limit on TV advertising. Note: The same ad limit may apply to more than one country.

A. United States
B. Canada
C. Belgium
D. Greece
E. Province of Quebec

1. Zero -- no advertising allowed.
2. Limited to 5 minutes.
3. Limited to 8 minutes.
4. Limited to 12 minutes.
5. No limit -- 60 minutes possible.

5. Multiple Choice. What is the definition of the term "nag factor" in advertising? Select the best answer from the list below.
A. Likelihood that a horse race will be won by a long shot.
B. Attempt by an advertiser to get you to bug your parents to buy something.
C. The average number of times you must be asked before cleaning your room.
D. A new kind of perfume that's supposed to repel parents and teachers.



  • What is the most unusual place you have seen an advertisement? Advertisers are very good at hiding their ads; how good are you at finding them? Talk about the strange places you've seen ads. Do you think people should be allowed to put ads there?

  • If your favorite magazine did not have any ads in it at all, do you think you would like it more or less? Why?

  • Do the media reflect your community? Chances are, when you look around your classroom, neighborhood, city, or country, you see some mixture of white, black, Hispanic, Asian and/or Native people. Next time you're watching TV or flipping through a magazine, compare the people you know to the ones you see in the media. Does one "community" bear any resemblance to the other? If not, who's missing from the ads? Why do you think that is?

  • Do you have questions for media literacy activist and author, Shari Graydon, like maybe what's the strangest place she has ever seen an ad? Post your questions on the LIVEbrary Blog at <> or send them by email to or ask them in the Live Skype Chat with Shari Graydon on Thursday, November 8, from 2-3 p.m. Eastern Time.


Copyright ©2007 by Annick Press. All rights reserved. Printed here with permission of the publisher. Please request permission from before posting this lesson plan in any public place. Thank you.

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