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Study ads to learn communication

Whenever you have time, it’s fun to look at advertisements together. It can be ads in newspapers, magazines, or online. The purpose is to teach and reflect on how ads
communicate, sell, and convince an audience. Being knowledgeable about these effects will make your kid more aware of how they are being influenced by companies every day.

Here are some of the questions and issues you can discuss when studying advertisements together:

  • Who is this advertisement made for? Who is the target customer? Few ads are created to appeal to everyone. Most have a single type of customer in mind. Can you guess who the company is thinking of and trying to reach?
  • What is the main message that the ad is trying to get across? Examine how they use headlines, text, images, and sales offers to convince the reader to buy their product.
  • An ad can trigger different emotions, humor, facts, curiosity, and so on. What emotions is this ad trying to tap into?
  • If it’s an ad for a product, what are the unique selling points (USPs)? For a smartphone, it could be the screen size, camera functions, speed, etc.
  • Ads use many tricks to convince the audience. How are they telling you that it’s a good offer? A common practice is to show before and after prices, limited-time
    discounts, number of sales, etc. A successful ad creates a sense of urgency and a call to action from the viewer. What techniques are used? “Offer valid until…” or “Valid as long as stock lasts.”
  • Is the ad building a brand, selling hard, or a mix of both? Many ads in glossy magazines are more about brand building. They use little text, large, beautifully
    staged images, and no prices. Others are more direct, with text like “buy now,” listing prices, and so on. How could you make the ad you see better?
    • Changing the headline.
    • Changing the image.
    • Changing the text.
    • Changing the offer.
    • Changing the whole concept.

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