Advertisers Tread Lightly; Quietly Encouraging Consumers To Spend Again
MATERIALS NEEDED: See Web sites listed below for articles and handouts.
ESTIMATED CLASS TIME: Recommended 50 minutes
CORRELATION TO NATIONAL STANDARDS:
The advertising industry was already in a severe downturn before September 11. Commercials on all of the major broadcast and cable networks were suspended for days following the tragedies, resulting in the loss of millions of dollars in revenue for the parent companies.
ARTICLES FOR READING
Primer on Analyzing TV Commercials
Specific Media Tools for
for Analyzing Print Advertisements
2. Have students read Advertising Call To Arms. This article from Advertising Age magazine, the bible of the ad industry, provides sufficient historical background about advertising history in the time of war and tragedy. Ask students what role advertising plays in affecting the mood of the nation. Discuss the possible role of a War Advertising Council in the year 2001-2002 and have students predict the kinds of messages it might create and disseminate.
3. Ask students if they have seen the current TV commercials for United
If they have not, they can get a good feel for this spot by reading United Openly Speaks of Attacks in Ads.
4. Ask students why they think United decided to include references
to the tragedy in their new ad campaign? List on the board, or an overhead
projector, the exact reference words, phrases, or sentences.
5. Ask students what they remember from this spot? (i.e. faces of pilots, stewardesses; music playing the background; mood, etc.) Ask students to read A Primer on Analyzing TV Commercials How do these elements add to, or detract from United's message? Why do you think the employees of United wore their uniforms during the production? Ask students if they have seen or heard other commercials with references to the tragedy. What do they remember about the message or the company advertised?
6. Using the handout Specific
Media Tools for Analysis, have students discuss which techniques
of persuasion are utilized in the United campaign. (For example: testimonial
is used when recognizable figures, in this case pilots and other uniformed
United employees, talk directly to the consumer, thus increasing adding
authority and authenticity to the message)
7. A key concept of media literacy is "all media are businesses, driven by profit." Have students read United Grapples with Crisis. Have students debate whether they think the current ad campaign will bring travelers back to United. Using the research tools of the Internet, students could also determine if the crisis is affecting other airlines. What steps are THEY taking to encourage travel by air?
8. Ask students to bring in copies of current event magazines (i.e.
TIME, Newsweek, U.S. News & World Report, Business Week, Fortune,
9. Encourage students to share their views on Sept.11 and the media in the "Sept. 11, Five Years Later" discussion at http://www.newzcrew.org between August 28 and September 25, 2006. The forum is run by students and is backed by content from the archive of the Online NewsHour.
Frank W. Baker is a media educator, who works for South Carolina ETV in Columbia SC. He is past president of the Alliance for A Media Literate America, a new national membership organization. He chaired the 1999 National Media Education Conference in St. Paul, Minnesota. In 1999, he co-authored a study of media literacy in state curriculum standards. The study is published on The Media Literacy Clearinghouse. Frank is also on the board of the National Telemedia Council, the nation's oldest media literacy organization.
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