Monday, September 8, 2008

Analyzing Commercials

You have read about and seen videos about some of the more manipulative aspects of advertising, and you may not like these strategies. Nevertheless, advertisers have a job to do which is to interest you in the product, and hopefully, persuade you to buy it. Some advertisements are enormously successful in entertaining, creating interest and leaving an impression. Watch the following ads and reflect on how successful the ad is at delivering a message. Consider the following questions:

1. Does the ad tell a story? If so, what is the basic structure—what is the sequence of events or actions?
2. Is there dialogue? How do the actors interact?
3. Is there a narrator (a voice of someone that you do not see)? If so, is it a man or a woman? Old or young? Authoritative, playful or matter-of-fact?
4. What is the tone of the ad—is it humourous, playful, serious, informative, etc?
5. Does the ad use music? What role does the music play?
6. What other technical devices are used in the ad: Does the ad show close-ups of the characters or long-shots (a picture taken from a distance)? Is lighting used in any special way? Are there unusual camera angles?
7. Are printed words used in the ad? What effect do they have?
8. Who is the target audience? Who is the commercial trying to reach?
9. What is the message? Is the intention to convince you to buy a product, inform you to do something or something else?
10. Does the commercial succeed in delivering the message? Do you feel inspired to act?

Berlitz (Germany)
Use Seatbelts (USA)
Samson Batteries (England)
Guinness Evolution (Ireland)
Chevrolet (Brazil)
Molson Beer (Canada)
Funding for the Arts (Canada)

How do these ads compare to other ads you have seen? Why are some ads more successful than others? Take a look at a short video called How to Write a Boring Ad that makes fun of traditional commercials.

Homework: Choose an ad that you like and one that you don't like (from this list, or from your own experience) and try to determine why "the good one" is more successful than the other. Compare the two in a 250-300-word essay. Your essay should include:

- An introduction in which you briefly describe each ad and the service or product being advertised.

- One or two body paragraphs in which you compare the two ads and explain why "the good one" is successful and why the second one is not. Use the questions above and some of the points mentioned in How to Write a Boring Ad to give you ideas. Provide enough information so that someone who has never seen the ads can imagine what they look like, how they sound and what happens. Use at least five descriptive adjectives or adverbs in the simple or comparative form.

-A conclusion in which you not only confirm which ad is more entertaining, but also whether or not the ads would influence you to buy the product or service.

Your essay should be typed, double-spaced and between 250 and 300 words. It is due at the beginning of class next week.

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