Media Awareness: Key Concepts in Advertising

Continuing to Explore the Elements 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 this second of three lessons, students will continue their exploration of concepts in advertising. Students will specifically discuss the following terms: purpose, target audience, and value of advertisements. Students will also examine the advertisements that they have brought to class from home. Students will then begin to add details, such as text and symbols, and color to their original, hand-drawn advertisements.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Develop an understanding of basic concepts in advertising.
  • Think critically about the purpose of advertising, and what the term "target audience" means.
  • Apply selected elements and principles of art to create an advertisement of their own.

Teaching Approach

  • Arts Integration
  • Project-Based Learning

Teaching Methods

  • Visual Instruction
  • Discussion
  • Independent Practice

Assessment Type

Informal Assessment


What You'll Need

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

Prior Student Knowledge

Students should have a basic understanding of:

  • Advertising
  • Students should also have been through lesson one of this unit

Physical Space

  • Classroom
  • Computer Lab
  • Visual Arts Studio


  • 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.
  • 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.



1. Begin this lesson with by continuing the conversation from the previous lesson on the purpose, target audience, and value of advertisements in general. Ask the following questions:

  • How did the advertisements for different categories of kid-oriented products differ from one another?
  • What audiences were targeted for each category of toys?
  • For television ads, were there differences in the types of programs during which the advertisements appeared?

These questions can be answered aloud or written in student journals.


1. Refer to the Target Audience and Purpose handout for background information. Review the two key terms and provide one or two examples of how a student would determine target audience and purpose for a particular product.

2. Review the Elements of Art handout. Discuss how size, color, and realism can add depth to ads. Be sure to discuss how each of these elements can determine whether the advertisement will be successful.


1. Have students take out the advertisements that they brought in from home.

2. Then, ask students to discuss as a class why each advertisement they have brought to class is or is not successful. Elements of art and media such as audience, target audience, size, color, and realism should be discussed.

3. Extend the discussion by asking the following:

  • How do the advertisements for different categories of kid-oriented products differ from one another?
  • What audiences were targeted for certain categories of toys?
  • For television ads, were there differences in the types of programs during which the advertisements appeared? Does this have an effect on sales?


1. Ask students to answer the following question:

What do you think constitutes an effective or ineffective advertisement with respect to the elements and principles of art?

During the ensuing discussion, have students refer to the handout Elements and Principles of Art, or you may wish, if time permits, to have students explore the interactive site, The Artist's Toolkit. Both resources are available within the Resouce Carousel.

2. Return to students the drawings that they began in the previous lesson. Remind them that they will transform these drawings into advertisements. Students should now focus on adding details to their drawings, such as color, text, and symbols (such as price).


Use the Assessment Rubric to evaluate your students' work. The rubric is avaible within the Resource Carousel


1. Have students draw a media-awareness cartoon like those on the media awareness network website. Ask students to name one component in advertising that they would like to let other kids know. Have them draw a cartoon to inform the other students about media-awareness.

2. For upper grades, have students create a "spoof ad". Students may need an introduction to the concepts of irony and sarcasm, which are implicit elements of such advertisements. Some recent examples of such television ads include the Geico Insurance and the Old Navy store commercials.

3. Have students survey a number of advertisements from different media resources. An Extension Activity handout is available in the Resrouce Carousel.  Students will survey products through television commercials, websites, and specific products (such as cereal).


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 2: Uses the stylistic and rhetorical aspects of writing

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



Helen Robertson
Original Writer

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