: Analysis of Advertisements—Old, New, and Personal
Subject Matter Area
: Social Studies, Language Arts, Art
To develop the ability to identify racial stereotypes in advertisements from the past and to have a fuller understanding of their sources and implications; to be able to compare advertisements from the past with those of today using similar approaches; to create an original advertisement and subject it to the same analysis.
: Pupils will be shown a series of advertisements from the past. Though there are other sources, I have chosen a series from
The Black Book
, edited by Middleton Harris.
These advertisements portray African-Americans in the typical stereotyped form. Almost any stereotype imaginable is to be found in one of these examples. There are no realistic family situations portrayed, and most products are associated with cooking or cleaning.
After viewing these advertisements, pupils will be asked a series of questions designed to motivate thoughtful discussion. questions such as the following will be included:
Who do you think created these advertisements?
To what people do you think they are appealing?
Are the people in the ads drawn realistically?
Do you see any similarity in the type of products that are being advertised?
How do you think their ad will help sell their product?
How are African-Americans portrayed in these ads?
Are African-American families portrayed in any of the ads?
How would people of today and then react to these ads?
Do you see anything positive and/or negative in these ads?
Pupils will then be shown a collection of modern day ads portraying African-Americans. Pupils might also be asked to bring in their own from magazines at home.
After they have seen this group of ads, they will be asked the same series of questions with discussion culminating in an analysis of how they are alike and how they are different.
Each class member will then be asked to create an imaginary product or service. They will write a brief description naming the product or service and explaining what it claims to do. They must then create an advertisement that they feel would sell this product or service today. There will be a discussion of the possible elements which may be involved in an effective advertisement: lettering, picture, slogan, adequate information.
When these advertisements are completed, the same list of questions will be applied to the pupils’ ads. This might be done by each pupil, through exchanges in small groups, or by the entire class.
Finally, pupil advertisements will be displayed along with those from the past and present.
This “lesson” should probably consist of a series of smaller lessons. It divides easily into three sections, but with some groups further division may be necessary.