MEDIA LITERACY 101: VI. Media Have Commercial Interests

Subject: Digital Literacy
Grade Level: All
Source: Cable in the Classroom

Most media is brought to you by large corporations that are in business to make money. Advertising is their biggest source of revenue. Television commercials are the one of the most familiar forms, although advertising messages take many other forms, including product placement, (paying to have a product prominently displaying in programs or movies), sponsorships, prizes, pop-up ads and surveys on the Internet, celebrity endorsements, or the names of stadiums and theaters.

Have a conversation about advertising techniques. Watch a TV program or look at the Web with your students or children. Have them talk about "who's bringing me this program, Web site, or blog, and why?" When you see commercials or banner ads, have them discuss the claims that are made and whether those claims seem reasonable or exaggerated. Invite them to look for the ways advertisers make products appealing. What "construction tools" are used? If it's a product that is readily available, suggest that they test the claims and see if they are accurate.

Watch these commercials with your children or students and have them look at how much product information is presented and how much is really about lifestyle or attitude. Look for the techniques the advertiser uses to make the product look good.

Supersoaker Nerf Ad (30 seconds)

PopTarts Ad (30 seconds)

Have children examine these Web sites and notice what each company is doing to market their product(s). Is the website trying to tell you something or sell you something?


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