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Advertising & History!
April 04, 2014

Advertising & History!

Commercial advertising is a an influential force in the United States, affecting buying habits, voting choices, and much more. Do you think of advertising as an art form? In today's world, advertisers use generous production budgets and integrate music, visual arts, sculpture and set building, and creative writing to convince millions of viewers to purchase certain products.

Integrating art and advertising with history is a great way to teach your students! Your students live in households that watch television and we can safely assume that these households watch a lot of television. Therefore, they are well aware of commercials and the influence they can have. Students can relate to television commercials and will become excited to utilize advertising in a history project!

In this project, students will become acquainted with techniques and methods of advertisers to better see past the hype and to evaluate the product being presented. Students will learn ten basic advertising techniques or strategies, practice identifying these strategies, and write their own commercials using these strategies.

Commercials and the Oregon Trail

Introduce the project by asking students why there are commercials on television. Students will probably provide a wide assortment of answers, including the objective of getting consumers to purchase certain products.

Ask students to identify two or three commercials they remember. Most students will have no trouble coming up with advertisements. Make a list on the board as students call the commercials out. Then ask students, "Why do you remember this commercial?" Answers will vary and some students will not know for sure why they remember them. Accept all responses and let students know that they will understand better why some commercials are more memorable.

Next, present information about advertising. Explain that companies buy advertising time on television. Many people watch events such as the Super Bowl, and advertising time during such programs can cost more than one million dollars a minute. Ask students the obvious question, "Why would advertisers pay that much money for commercial time during the Super Bowl? Would they pay that much to advertise on a program that few people watched?" The relationship between viewer numbers and advertising rates drives television decision making. A well-presented, socially conscious program will not last on television if no one watches it, because money for television comes from advertising.

Ask students to make a list, either individually or in small groups, of advertising strategies rather than specific examples (for example, "using a celebrity" instead of "the Michael Jordan commercial"). Make sure the list includes at least the following ten techniques:

  • Comparison - our product will make clothes whiter than the other leading brand

  • Using a celebrity - Michael Jackson drinks Pepsi.

  • Expert testimony - four out of five doctors recommend x-brand medicine.

  • Parental responsibility or guilt - buy our tires because your family is riding on them and you wouldn't want them to die because you're too cheap to buy quality tires, would you?

  • Total image - using beautiful pictures of tropical beaches to sell products that have nothing to do with those pictures.

  • Gimmicks - order now and receive, absolutely free, an ice pick, or an autographed picture of Justin Beiber.

  • Fairy Tails - buy our product and your life will change dramatically and you will be popular and live happily ever after.

  • Modeling - this successful businessperson read our journal to gain an edge on the competition, shouldn't you?

  • Humor - remember our product because our ads are distictive, not because our product is good.

  • Sexual appeal - beautiful people sell products, and the understanding is that you will be more beautiful and will associate with more beautiful people if you purchase the product.

  • has created this exciting and engaging Lesson Plan & Hands-On Project for your classroom!

    To receive the entire Lesson Plan, project instructions, and project grading rubric, free of charge, simply contact us!

    Go to and click on the "Contact Us" link in the top bar. Tell us that you would like the Commercials and the Oregon Trail Lesson Plan & Project! You will receive it in your email inbox free of charge!

    Don't Forget!

    If you'd like to teach a particular unit of study and don't see that it is available for immediate download, that means we haven't created it yet. We can custom-create any unit on any topic in American History, World History, World Geography, American Government, Social Studies, Sociology, Creative Writing or World Religions!

    Maybe you'd like to teach a unit on Nelson Mandela? Or the contribution of women throughout World History? These are just some examples, but you can choose whatever you want. We can custom-create unit packages just for you!

    Simply click on our Order Page and place your order today!

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