Ads: They Want to Persuade You

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TSWBAT compare advertisements and determine the Ethos, Pathos, and/or Logos represented.

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Warm Up

10 minutes

Review Aristotle's Methods of Persuasion: Ethos, Pathos, Logos with the class on the Smart Board. They will be tasked later with the job of identifying which of the three types is represented in different circular ads. We first learned about this in my lesson, The Right Phrase Will Persuade at the beginning of the year, so I'm happy to reinforce the concept. I then ask them when they think the idea of advertising began.

The question is broad because I want to see how, and if, they'll cite the cavemen, early America, when the television was invented, etc.  They contribute their ideas on the board, When did advertising begin? Their thoughts don't stay in one category- they're all over the place as the dates that advertising began, reasons why it began, and examples of how it began are cited. The students have the opportunity to add to the list or simply put their tally marks next to what makes sense to them. 

We discuss the outcome of their listing. Their suggestions included, in this order, When newspapers were created, the 1600s, the Caveman (I think they just ran out of space in not putting it chronologically...i hope) the 1900s, When people thought of the stuff to advertise them, and When companies started.  It's evident that these are not teacher created categories.  I purposely wanted to leave it this open-ended to get a true pictue of their perceptions of the beginning of advertising.  It's revealed in the next section that the cavemen were in the number one position as evidenced by the timeline. 


25 minutes

I now tell them, "Advertising has been around in some form since humans were able to write or draw pictures."  I pull up a visual- The History of Advertising, and pass out informational text containing the same dates and events. (Timeline of Advertising beginning with the Cavemen)  Together we sift through the various highlights of advertising, and they take notes on their copies.

I then ask, "Name some recent advertising opportunites you've seen."  Some kids go back a few weeks to the Super Bowl (naturally, we're inundated with the commercials.)  Valentine's Day, which was last week, was then mentioned, and I enthusiastically agree- that was huge for advertisers, and we discuss who was influenced by Valentine's Day ads. 

Next, I say, "Why did you have a break from school yesterday?"  A chorus of, "Ahhs," as kids remember seeing all of the Presidents Day ads.  I bring out the pile of Presidents Day ads I collected, Presidents Day advertisements and give each table a bunch. (Analyzing the Ads) Their task is to sift through the advertisements and look for examples of the three types of persuasion: Ethos, Pathos, Logos and determine which of these appears the most common with this type of ad. Typically, the Presidents Day advertisements much, like the ads on Columbus Day, center around furniture/mattresses/large appliances which aren't real heavy with Pathos- the emotional method of persuasion.  They will also categorize the types of stores these ads are for, and write a final tally on the board.  Using the companion worksheet: Analyzing an Advertisement, they analyze different questions about the advertisements.

I took advantage of the many Presidents' Day circulars over the weekend to use in this plan, but it's adaptable to any advertisements. Analyzing Advertisement...#1 Analyzing Advertisement...#2 Analyzing Advertisement...#3 Analyzing Advertisement...#4



15 minutes

The activity is finished and everyone has an opinion.After so many advertising examples they have a lot of data.  I ask which type of persuasion they find most effective? The overall answer is ta, da, da....inconclusive. Across the board each one receives close to equal votes.  The overall winner by one vote is Pathos- The kids who voted for this are the ones who depend on emotion to be influenced.  We talk about this, in addition to the Ethos and Logos examples, and I'm really happy with their understanding through this activity.

The final part of the day's activity is to target one of the techniques and create an advertisement.  Everyone's motivated to sketch their own advertisement focusing on one of the methods, and they get right to work. Who can resist a pizza ad?

The only parameter I give them is that the item they're advertising must be a real product. Who wouldn't want a Brazooka? There's something to be said for creatively imagining futuristic things, but I'd rather they draw what's already out there. 

The focus of the lesson is to help solidify their recognition on Ethos, Pathos, and Logos and this is best done when relating the persuasive techniques to actual products.