uniE610 Skip to Main Content

Advertising & Media Awareness

Advertising and media awareness activities for elementary school students, provided as part of school library/media instruction

Is it right to target kids in advertising?

Activity #3

Class Discussion

Is it fair to target kids with advertising?  Do you feel that kids are as good as adults are at understanding how advertising can be confusing?  Are there any specific items that advertisers should not be allowed to advertise to children?

Class Discussion: Food on TV

Activity #1-

1.   At your table, take 5 minutes to make a list of all the food advertisements of which you can think. 

2.   Pick a speaker to share your answers.  Your teacher will make a list on the board.  After this, we will put this list into a pie chart based on types of food.

How do you know an advertisement is targeting kids?

Here are a couple things that might give the hint that advertisers are targeting YOU:

1.  Kids are the center of the ad or have the main voice of the ad.

2.  Cartoon characters or cuddly animals are used.

Activity #4: Class Brainstorming

Share any other "hints" you can think of that might be a clue that an advertisement is targeting kids.  Your teacher will make a list on the board.

Food in Kids' Commercials: What Is Really Happening?

Activity #2-Class Discussion

How does this list compare to the pie chart shared in the box below?

Source:  Types of Food Advertised to Children as Percentage of Advertising Food to Children
Image Caption: Food groups represented within the sample

Article Title: A thematic content analysis of children's food advertising.
Source: International Journal of Advertising, 2007, Vol. 26 Issue 3, p357-367, 11p, 2 Graphs.  Graph; found on p. 360.

It's Not Only Food Ads that Target Kids Unfairly!

Did you know that tobacco manufacturers once used cartoon characters as mascots for their products?  The tobacco industry claimed that the ads were not aimed at making kids want to buy cigarettes.  However, they eventually stopped the advertisements due to public outcry. 

One cigarette company used Kool the Penguin, another used Joe the Camel.  Another used "the Marlboro Man," which wasn't a cartoon character but was criticized for appealing to children's love of cowboys.

Activity 5:  Think, Pair, Share

Directions:  View the following two cartoons that poke fun at the tobacco industry and its mascots.  Take a few minutes to think about what these cartoons are trying to say.  Next, spend a couple minutes with your partner sharing your thoughts.  Finally, be ready to share your thoughts with the class.  Listen to your teacher for instruction on when to start and stop each step.

Cartoon #1:  The tobacco industry and kids.

Cartoon #2:  Out of work tobacco mascots.

Stereotyping in Advertising

Exercise #6


Independent Work: View the two images below.  Fold a piece of paper lengthwise (hot dog fold).  On one side, list the things you see in each image.  On the other side, list who you think the audience(s) would be if this image were part of an ad.  Also list which advertising techniques would be used if this image were the center of an ad.

Whole Class Work:  We will create a Venn diagram that compares and contrasts these two images on the white board.  Finally, we will discuss whether or not you think these images stereotype boys/men and girls/women.  What if these were used in ads?  Is stereotyping in advertising "ethical"?

Image 1-  Woman and girl shopping.

Image 2-  Man and boy shopping.