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Advertising and Media #1: How Ads Are Made

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Lesson Overview:

In this lesson, students use a non-fiction text to learn how advertisements are made.  This is a Unit of Inquiry lesson with notetaking practice.

Lesson Plan:

Suggested Grades:



Practice notetaking using a Unit of Inquiry text on advertising.  (Information Literacy Skills.)  Students will be able to use their notes to explain the five steps involved in creating an ad.

Suggested Time:

45-50 minutes

Success Criteria:

Students will take simple notes from Advertising Attack Chapter 3, “How is an Advertisement Made?”  Their notes will be sufficient for them to explain, without the use of the text, how advertisements are developed for today’s markets.

Lesson Outline:

1. Introduction:

Introduce a series of lessons.  First students will learn how ads are made.  Next, students will look at the trailer as a specific form of advertising, deconstruct four trailers, and finally learn how to make their own trailers.

Today’s lesson is the first in a five-lesson series that supports a Unit of Inquiry on Advertising and Modern Media.

2. Main: 

Notetaking is a way of capturing information and making it our own.  When we take notes, we must:

  • Read
  • Think (Repeat as many times as necessary the “read”/”think” cycle until we can put the material in our own words.)
  • Write (Never use full sentences in notes.  Use bullet points, outlines, grouping notations, and color coding.)

When taking notes, we:

  • Never use a complete sentence
  • Use outlines
  • Use bullet points
  • Color code
  • Use key words
  • Use symbols

Model notetaking for the students as you work through Advertising Attack, Chapter 3.  Ask them to make their own notes while you take notes on the whiteboard or a flip chart.  I don’t like to use an electronic document, because I want the kids to be able to draw simple graphics and easily use colors in their note taking.

If there is time, show the kids some classic TV ads so that they can apply the concepts they learn from the text.  Links to some suggested ads are provided below.

3. Conclusion:

Ads are generally made in five steps.  Also, note taking is a very important skill.  We will practice and use it often.


Advertising Attack by Laura Hensley.

Links to Four Classic TV ads.  Ask students to identify the target audience and the strategy used in creating the ad:

  1. Oscar Mayer Wiener (Target audience: Children. Strategy: Bandwagon.)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aNddW2xmZp8
  2. Doublemint Gum (Target audience: General public. Strategy: Appeal to a desire to have fun and enjoy life.)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGQAAs5quf4
  3. The Force Volkswagen (Target audience: General public. Strategy: Combining nostalgia of childhood with pop culture.)  Note:  This ad is thought to have fundamentally changed advertising strategy for SuperBowl commercials.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hHqGgEvgv90
  4. Levi’s Jeans (1970s): (Target audience: Teens or Young Adults.  Strategy: Appeal to Enjoyment and Carefree Adolescence.)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ww6ofm2B_Cg

Use ads that fit your own students’ culture and language.  Be sure to preview each one before showing to make sure it is appropriate.


If students cooperate and use their time well, you can accomplish all of this in one lesson.  However, if students drag through the notetaking section, you may need two 45-minute lessons to complete the work.  I’ve taught this lesson a couple of times, and I’ve had experiences with both kinds of timings.

I have found that kids can do a pretty good job of understanding the five steps of ad creation.  However, when it comes to analyzing the TV commercials, they lose their grounding.  No matter how fun or exciting the ads are, try to pull them back to asking about the target audience and general ad strategy.

Recommended books for this lesson:

Advertising Attack by Laura Hensley.

Key Terms:

Advertising, Ads, Ad Agencies, Commercials, Classic Commercials