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No Logo Day

Intro/Show Summary

Connecting the Dots

Tips for Teaching Media Literacy

Discussion Starters and Topics


Reflections for Educators


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As a class, choose a day when everyone is assigned to wear logo-free clothing. If students don"t own any logo-free clothing, they may turn t-shirts inside out or place masking tape over the logo. To increase the impact, make the day school-wide, including covering all corporate logos displayed in your school (including soda machines, scoreboards, bulletin boards, etc.). Use the resulting visual impact to help students reflect on the role of branding in their lives.

    In a school-wide initiative, lessons can be integrated across the curriculum:
  • English: Ask students to write a description of the image conveyed by a logo they often wear.
  • Social Studies: Encourage students to look more closely at the "made in" labels in their clothing and compare the realities of global production with the image of particular brands.
  • History: Explore the history of clothes as identity and how clothing has been used to reinforce class and caste distinctions.
  • Math: Compare how much the addition of a popular logo adds to the purchase price of a pair of jeans or a shirt. Conduct a statistical survey of what brands are most popular in your class compared with the brands most frequently advertised on MTV.


To integrate the content of "The Merchants of Cool" into a literature or social studies class, have students assume the role of "cool hunter" and focus their attention on literary characters or historical figures they have studied. Who would they choose as "cool" and why? Have them design a marketing campaign to appeal to that person. De-brief the activity by asking them to justify the techniques used in their campaign and what kinds of information they needed to know about their target audience to design an effective campaign. You might also have students assess whether the campaign(s) developed by the class were ever misleading or unethical. Wrap up by asking students to look for present day examples of "spin" that mirror the techniques they used.


Before viewing "The Merchants of Cool", ask students to choose a favorite ad or music video and write a brief analysis or description. After viewing the film, have them re-write their analysis. Discuss what changed. You might use the "General Media Literacy Questions" at the end of the "Teaching Media Literacy" section to prompt analysis, or pose this trio:

What are the messages? Are the messages the same as the product(s)?
What techniques are used to convey the messages?
Who is the target audience and how do you know?


Have students define the word "authentic" and assign them to create a visual representation of the various facets their "authentic" selves. Facets of their identity might include things like cultural, religious, or racial heritage; family, neighborhood, or community; song lyrics, magazines, clothing; favorite TV shows, hobbies, or sports, etc. To practice public speaking or writing you might ask each student to explain their choices. Then have them look at the sources of the items they chose. Use the "Connecting the Dots" section to help students determine whether there are any corporate interests represented in their self-portraits. For example, who profits from the logo on their favorite pants? Who owns the label that their favorite band records on? Let the class generate a list of corporations connected to their expressions of authenticity and talk about what they see as the distinction between their actual selves and corporate reflections of their identity. Then discuss Douglas Rushkoff"s question about his own youth culture in "The Merchants of Cool": Was it just something being sold to us, or was it something that came from us? An act of expression not of consumption? Has that boundary been completely erased?

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