Media Awareness: The Basics of Advertising

Understanding the Influence of Marketing


Key Staff

The lesson can be taught by the language arts or media instructor; however, this lesson can be used in any alternative or supplemental program, such as life skills, guidance, or health classes.

Key Skills

Creative Thinking: Creativity and Innovation
Developing Arts Literacies: Applying Vocabulary, Analyzing and Evaluating - Critique
Life and Career Skills: Social and Cross-Cultural Skills


In the first of these three lessons, students will develop a general understanding of marketing and its influence. Using an advertisement for a kid-oriented product, students will discuss what appeals to them about each item, brainstorm different categories of kid-oriented products, and explore the concept of target audiences. They will then apply learned knowledge to draw a picture of the product (using basic elements and principles of art) to create background and foreground in the drawing.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Develop a basic understanding of the influence that advertising exerts on them through the media.
  • Think critically about the purpose of advertising and what the term "target audience" means.
  • Use principles of art and design to create an advertisement of their own.

Teaching Approach

  • Arts Integration
  • Project-Based Learning

Teaching Methods

  • Brainstorming
  • Visual Instruction
  • Discussion
  • Independent Practice

Assessment Type



What You'll Need

Required Technology
  • 1 Computer per Learner
  • Word Processing Software
  • Projector
Required Plugins
Technology Notes

If students are creating electronic illustrations, teachers need to use appropriate illustration software (which will vary depending on the available resources).

Lesson Setup

Teacher Background

For background information on advertising, visit the media awareness network website.

Prior Student Knowledge

Students should have a basic understanding of:

  • Advertising
  • Their favorite product

Physical Space

  • Classroom
  • Visual Arts Studio
  • Computer Lab


  • Small Group Instruction
  • Individualized Instruction


  • Make copies of handouts.
  • Prepare samples of marketing plans and original advertisements.
  • Research and prepare different types of advertisements (television and radio commercials, magazine/newspaper ads, website advertisements).

Accessibility Notes

  • For hearing impaired students, use captions visual presentations.
  • For visually impaired students, give an option of creating an audio advertisement as opposed to a visual one.
  • Provide extra writing assistance for English Language Learners.
  • Use age-appropriate advertisements and kid-friendly products.


Resources in Reach

Here are the resources you'll need for each activity, in order of instruction.



Begin with a warm-up that requires students to think about the general topics of advertising and products.

1. Display a few children’s products (games, cereals, toys, DVDs, etc.) around the classroom. Be sure to have these items in close proximity to the students so that they do not miss them. Then, ask students to answer the following question:

What is your favorite kid-friendly product?

2. After giving the student enough time to answer, initiate a class discussion in which each student shares their product and why he/she likes their particular product.

3. Have all students brainstorm different categories of kid-oriented products. On one side of the board, create a running list of these items. On the other side, discuss and write down the reasons for valuing each item.

4. Inform the students that the warm-up activity segues into a three-part lesson on advertising. Ask the students (by show of hands) who has heard of the term “advertising.” Then, explain that the warm-up activity is a great way to start thinking about marketing.


1. Distribute the Marketing to Teens: Advertising Strategies handout to students and project the handout on a screen using an LCD projector in your classroom. Review the basics of advertising and marketing and inform the students that they will be using their knowledge to create an advertisement for their favorite kid-friendly product.

2. Show the students an example of an advertisement for a kid-friendly product.  This example can be a commercial clip or printed ad. Be mindful of any students that may need one type of advertisement over the other (for example, if there are visually impaired students in the classroom, use a radio advertisement instead of a television commercial).

3. Ask the students the following questions about the advertisement:

  • Would you want to buy this product? If so, what about the advertisement caught your attention?
  • Is the advertisement targeted towards children? How?
  • Based on the Marketing to Teens: Advertising Strategies handout, which marketing strategies does the advertisement use (excitement, bandwagon, omission, etc.)?


In this portion of the lesson, students will need to analyze their favorite products that they brought from home.

1. Have students divide into pairs or small groups and temporarily exchange with one another their product and the associated advertisement. This discussion will promote an enhanced understanding of advertising and the effect it can have on the audience. If for any reason the student does not have a product, allow them to choose a product from the teacher’s item box.

2. Encourage the students to ask the following detailed questions in their discussions:

  • When did you get your item (game, CD, etc.)?
  • Did you see an advertisement for the product and then ask for it? If so, what about the advertisement caught your attention?
  • If you received it as a gift, how did the giver (family member, friend, etc.) know to give it?
  • Based on the Marketing to Teens: Advertising Strategies handout, which marketing strategies does the advertisement use (excitement, bandwagon, ommission, etc.)?

3. Allow the students approximately 5 – 10 minutes to discuss their products. Then, ask each group to summarize their discussion points.


1.  Distribute the Elements and Principles of Art handout to students. A copy of the handout may be found within the Resource Carousel.

2. Explain to students that the class will only focus on a few of the elements and principles for the next activity (students will draw his/her item from observation). The background will then be drawn in to show where the item is usually kept at home (shelf, drawer, etc.).

3. Explain to students that this drawing will become their own advertisement for their product.

4. Explain and then illustrate the concept of using overlapping lines to create the illusion of foreground/background space in the picture plane. Show the students visual examples of the foreground/background space illusion technique. Also, do a quick sketch to illustrate the process in detail.

5. Distribute 18”X12” newsprint paper and pencils and have students begin their drawings. Students should be given about 10-15 minutes to begin their drawings.

6. Collect drawings, as students will use these drawings as springboard during the next lesson. As a summarizing reflection, have students compare the various choices made in the placement of the object on the page and the principle of balance.

7. Ask students to bring in an example of an advertisement for the product for a discussion during the next lesson.


Teachers should use the Assessment Rubric to assess the students' work. The Rubric is available within the Resource Carousel.

Extend the Learning

1. Using their notes from the discussion on kid-oriented products, students will extend upon their knowledge by researching various advertisments for the products they listed (games, CD's, interactive toys, etc.). Using a double-sided journal entry, each student will choose one type of product and then record the characteristics of the product's advertisement. The ads can be television, radio, or print ads. During the next lesson, have students report their findings.

2. Thanks to the power of the Internet, there are lots of online marketing strategies employed for products specifically sold on the internet. Have students review the Online Marketing Strategies handout to review technique used for website advertisements. Then, have them complete the Online Marketing Worksheet. This activity helps students to compare and contrast various websites and how they use marketing to attract consumers.


Throughout the nation, standards of learning are being revised, published and adopted. During this time of transition, ARTSEDGE will continually add connections to the Common Core, Next Generation Science standards and other standards to our existing lessons, in addition to the previous versions of the National Standards across the subject areas.

The Arts Standards used in ARTSEDGE Lessons are the 1994 voluntary national arts standards. The Arts learning standards were revised in 2014; please visit the National Core Arts Standards (http://nationalartsstandards.org) for more. The Kennedy Center is working on developing new lessons to connect to these standards, while maintaining the existing lesson library aligned to the Common Core, other state standards, and the 1994 National Standards for Arts Education.

ArtsEdge Lessons connect to the National Standards for Arts Education, the Common Core Standards, and a range of other subject area standards.

Common Core/State Standards

Select state and grade(s) below, then click "Find" to display Common Core and state standards.

National Standards For Arts Education
Visual Art

Grade 5-8 Visual Arts Standard 1: Understanding and applying media, techniques, and processes

Grade 5-8 Visual Arts Standard 3: Choosing and evaluating a range of subject matter, symbols, and ideas

Grade 5-8 Visual Arts Standard 5: Reflecting upon and assessing the characteristics and merits of their work and the work of others

National Standards in Other Subjects
Language Arts

Language Arts Standard 4: Gathers and uses information for research purposes

Language Arts Standard 9: Uses viewing skills and strategies to understand and interpret visual media

Language Arts

Language Arts Standard 8: Uses listening and speaking strategies for different purposes



Tonya Abari

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