Use Admongo in the classroom to teach kids about advertising.
Identify ads and understand their messages
Advertisers use many techniques to reach their audiences. Admongo shows you how to identify those techniques so you will be more aware of how you're being influenced to do, think, or buy something.
Welcome to Admongo.gov, the free site that uses advertising and a three-question approach to help students broaden and apply their critical thinking skills.
In this video, we’re going to discuss some of the tactics advertisers use to appeal to their audiences. Admongo can help your students become more savvy “readers” of advertising messages by helping them learn about these different techniques.
We’ll go through a few key examples here. By encouraging your students to look at ads and identify and discuss the goal of the techniques they see, you can jump-start their awareness, as well as their own creativity.
Association is when an ad tries to connect a popular character or value with a product. Advertisers use association because they want the audience to transfer good feelings about the character or value to the product. For example, a food targeted to kids might include a picture of a popular toy or video game in an ad to connect the product with that feeling. Association ads also might try to tie a product to values like fun, being environmentally conscious, or being physically fit. Even logos can have associations. Some might be described as strong, modern, old-fashioned, or active. Encourage your students to think critically about ads by prompting them to ask questions, like what does this product have to do with this character or value? Humor is another popular ad technique…because funny content can make an ad, and the product it’s selling, memorable.
This same ad demonstrates another commonly-used ad technique: fear. It’s a tactic that advertisers use if they’re trying to present their product as a solution to situations people may worry about, like body odor or acne. Have students ask themselves: How do I feel about this product when I separate it from emotions like humor or fear? How worried am I about this issue? And will this product really solve the problem? When an ad uses sounds or images that appeal to our senses—say, a shot of a sizzling hamburger— it’s using sense appeal. Encourage your students to talk about why the advertiser would choose to include particular images or sounds for particular products. Students might also ask: Do my feelings about the product change when the sounds or images change? For example: What if there’s a hamburger but no sizzle? How might that change what I think?
If an ad makes it seem as though you must have an advertised product to be happy, popular, or satisfied, it’s using the must-have technique. When your students see that kind of ad, encourage them to ask themselves: What will this product really do for me? Hype is when an ad uses words like “best” or “best-ever” to describe a product. These words usually represent the advertiser’s opinion – and are usually presented in such a way that they can’t actually be proven. Encourage your students to look at the hype and ask questions like: greatest, best ever, or most incredible…according to whom?
Many ads talk about sales or price to make a product look appealing. You can help your students realize that items on sale may never have been sold at a higher price.Other ads talk about prizes, or supposedly “free” gifts, like ringtones or toys. Help your students recognize that the cost of these “extras” is always included in the price. Encourage them to talk about whether the “extra” is worth the extra cost? Some ads use special ingredients as a technique. Often the ingredient has a scientific-sounding name that implies the product is better than others. Prompt students to ask: what’s so special about this ingredient, or is this really just an example of advertisers being creative?
Finally, repetition is a technique that helps make a product memorable. An ad might repeat the same tag line a few times, or a business might show an ad repeatedly. Repetition makes you more likely to think about a brand or product. Students might ask, is this product better than others, or am I simply more aware of it? The games on Admongo.gov, and the lessons in the Resource Kit give students experience with these techniques, and opportunities to use the techniques themselves as they create their own ads. In addition, the site has an extensive glossary for reference.
Check out Admongo.gov, the other videos, and additional resources from the FTC to learn more about teaching ad literacy skills to your students.
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