Persuasive Techniques in Advertising

Purpose: The purpose of this lesson is to apply Aristotle's rhetorical devices to print and television advertisements.

Rationale: In our culture, we are surrounded by advertising. Today’s media provides a variety of avenues for selling or promotion of goods and services: print ads, billboards, television, radio and movie commercials, pop-ups on the computer screen, advertising on public transportation. Billions of dollars are spent each year by businesses, the military, special interest groups and politicians in an attempt to sway our opinion or persuade us to purchase their products. Since we are constantly bombarded by these sophisticated messages, it is worthwhile learning the metalanguage of advertising so that we may become more informed consumers and members of society. Many advertisements are directed toward the lucrative adolescent audience. The more informed students become at interpreting the messages of advertising, the more discerning a consumer they become. Once acquired, metalanguages can be used to interpret other forms of media and students will develop an enhanced awareness of the messages that surround them.

Objectives: SWBAT:

1. Identify the types of rhetorical devices that are used in print and television advertisements.
2. Collect and evaluate data from a variety of sources.
3. Analyze whether the targeted audience for a given advertisement has a significant influence on the choices of persuasive techniques used.
4. Prove or disprove a hypothesis that persuasive techniques in television advertisements are affected by the time slot and genre of show in which they are placed.
5. Create a Glog that provides examples of the three different categories of persuasive techniques.
6. Comment on five Glogs that have been created by classmates.

Previous to This Lesson

For homework, students have been ask to keep a log of advertisements that appear on television during their favorite shows. They have also brought in examples of print advertisements from magazines and newspapers. Students who have access to advertisements from other cultures have contributed examples of these in or noted them in their logs. The class has agreed upon and created a hypothesis statement: If advertisements are targeted toward a specific audience, then the persuasive techniques in television advertisements will vary according to the time slot and genre of show in which they are placed.

Situated Practice

The print advertisements are displayed around the classroom. Students look for and discuss similarities and differences by posing the following questions: What is the product, person or concept being sold? Who is the intended audience? Who are the actors and reactors? What are the objects of the participants’ gazes? What is the denoted message and what is the connoted message? Students apply visual thinking strategies and ask themselves and each other: “ What's going on in this picture? What do you see that makes you say that? What more can you find?” Teacher circulates and scaffolds these discussions.

Overt Instruction

1. Teacher asks students if they can categorize these advertisements according to how they attempt to persuade the consumer. A guided discussion and graphic organizing on the whiteboard assists students to focus on three main types of advertisements: those that appeal to the audience's sense of reason to support claims that they should buy their product; those that appeal to the audience's beliefs or values; those that send a message that the company and its product are trustworthy and reliable.
2. Teacher introduces the concept of rhetorical devices: ethos, pathos and logos. They are defined and described in this video: Art of Persuasion
3. Teacher distributes Student Handout #1 and discusses it with class.

Situated Practice

1. Teacher distributes Student Handout #2. Students work in cooperative groups to complete it. Teacher circulates and provides scaffolding.

2. Students and teacher go through the answers and discuss Handout #2.

Critical Framing

1. In their groups, students share and examine their logs of advertisements that appeared during their favorite television shows. Findings are listed on Student Handout #3.

2. In their groups, students form generalizations about the type of advertising that appears on television according to time, genre of show and targeted audience.
3. Class discusses and reaches a consensus which is displayed on a projected graphic organizer as to the type of advertising that appears on television according to time, genre of show and targeted audience. A tally is kept of how often each type of persuasive technique(pathos, ethos, logos) is used, the time slot it is used, and the genre of show that it is place in.
4. Students debate as to whether the hypothesis: The targeted audience for a given advertisement has a significant influence on the choices of persuasive techniques used, has been proven or not.

Transformed Practice

1. On computers, students register at to generate a multimedia online representation of the three types of persuasive techniques used in advertising. Students can insert text, images, photos,audio, videos and other elements. Students will send a link of their glogs to a class website and leave comments on the glogs of at least five other students. This glog contains examples of the three categories of persuasive techniques:

Formative Assessment:

Students will receive a grade for Student Handouts #'s 1 and 2. Glogs will be graded according to a teacher-made rubric.

Sunshine State Standards:

Informational Text - The student comprehends the wide array of informational text that is part of our day to day experiences.

Media Literacy - The student develops and demonstrates an understanding of media literacy as a life skill that is integral to informed decision making.

Vocabulary Development - The student uses multiple strategies to develop grade appropriate vocabulary.

Informative - The student develops and demonstrates technical writing that provides information related to real-world tasks.