Wednesday, July 31, 2013

My Class Economy Part 6: A Study In Advertising Genres

It's been a while since I've hit the pause button on this series, so here's a quick review of what I've done so far:
Part 1: My Class Economy- an Introduction

Part 2: Creating Meaningful Classroom Jobs
Creating classroom jobs that kids will be both interested in and learn from

Part 3: Managing Accounts, Writing Checks, Workshops, and Bonuses
Learning how to deposit and withdraw money from our bank.

Part 4: What Does It Mean To Produce Something?
Videos, Books, and Field Trips to help us prepare to be Entrepreneurs

Part 5: The Christmas Firings
The mid-year switch from "Government Jobs" To Entrepreneurs

So now that we're caught up, let's dive into part 6: The study of advertising genres.

The Power of Slogans and Logos
The first thing I do in January is ask students to identify this:

I've taught this in approximately 397 countries, and they all get it. 
But the recognition of simple images is only one part of the lesson. 
The other part is when someone groans. Because they're hungry. Because they see that slogan and it reminds them of food.
That's amazing.
And that's a great hook when I introduce commercial genres with something I call, "Tasty and Delicious":

So that's how I use the idea of logos (and eventually slogans) to transition into commercial genres. The genres are the real meat of this lesson. Because you can take a single product... let's say socks... and package it in a different genre to appeal to different types of people.

These socks are for those that love adventure.

These socks will make your life better and more fun.

These socks are for those that love to look cool.

These socks are for those who have a sense of humor.

These socks are action-packed!

But wait... these are all the same brand of sock!

If only they exploded

I eventually split the kids up into small groups, give each group a bunch of print ads, and see if they can define a genre from them. Genres like those listed above are fairly easily discovered. But there are some tricky ones. Specifically the idea of transfer or what my students eventually call metaphor.
This one is for face cream

Eventually we move into commercials and identify multiple genres in an advertisement:

This one seems to have elements that appeal to everyone

We watch and study a lot. We try to identify the slogans and logos. We try to identify the genre or genres. And we try to see how well the ad connects with us regardless of the product so we can identify which genres are most effective on us. 

Then we start writing. By this time the kids have an idea of what they want to sell, and they'll try to write an ad for it. I'll usually give them a choice. For example, either write a humor ad or an action ad. 

After they write an ad, I give them a choice of different genres using their same product. For example, 
either write a lookin' cool ad or a metaphor ad.

After they've written three scripts in three different genres, we work on revising and combining the genres until we have a polished product. That's the hard part. The fun part comes immediately after when we start to film. 

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