Advertising. We are constantly bombarded with messages that encourage us to spend money on products that we do not usually need. Whether it is outdoor, online or in print, advertising has become the most pervasive form of modern media. Even though these do serve a purpose and can be beneficial at times; marketing schemes often aim at convincing consumers that they need, or want, something they had not considered previously. Youth are particularly susceptible to the luring message of advertisements, and it is for this reason that we ran a lesson on these, their uses, and downsides, during our Book Club session at Twabuka Primary School this week.
The children at Twabuka are an impressionable group, and even though they may not be the targets of many local advertising campaigns, they are not immune to the feeling that they ‘lack’ what the messaging of advertisements inspires. The children, therefore, need to be taught how to look at these critically, particularly with regard to the false perception of satisfaction or happiness that advertisements may portray.
Our team prepared a lesson that was aimed to strengthen the children’s critical reading skills through the utilisation of advertisements. Important to mention is that advertising is a two-sided subject and, therefore, not only do the children need to understand how to correctly interpret these, but also how to create and use these in an effective and meaningful manner.
“What does it mean to advertise?” our team asked the class. The class was quiet before a few hands were raised. The students grappled with the concept and we went back and forth in debate. They were then given the task of designing an advertisement of their very own. To provide a clear starting point, the team laid out the task clearly; design a short advertisement for Twabuka Primary School targeted at families who might want to enrol their children here. They came up with some rather creative ideas, highlighting the strong qualities that their school had to offer. We were impressed with their results.
Now that they understood the concept from the advertiser’s perspective, they switched to the angle that they are most familiar with, the consumer. They were each given a copy of a local advertisement and were asked to analyse it in light of what they had learned, while jotting down the following key points:
· What product was being advertised?
· Who was the target of the advertisement?
· What had the advertiser done to make their product attractive to customers (e.g. display its affordability, convenience, health benefits, popularity, etc.)?
After each group had conducted this exercise using two or three different advertisements, the class was brought together to discuss their findings. The groups highlighted varying factors, and it was beneficial to discuss the different perspectives as this gave the children a more holistic understanding of what it means to advertise effectively. Crucially, we had to emphasise the importance of critical analysis when looking at advertisements, and the hard fact that advertisers attempt to create a ‘wanting’ in their audience in order for them to purchase a product that they do not necessarily need or want. The closing message of the lesson was simply this: treat advertisements with caution and be more astute when deciphering these.
It is a privilege to be able to share our knowledge and skill with local communities such as the children in our Book Club at Twabuka Primary School. Join us in this opportunity. To volunteer and / or intern with us, please click here for further information.