A year ago… (you are right I am recycling another abandoned slice), I read an article about how to teach children to watch commercials more closely, and reflect on how ads can influence them on what they think or do. Author Sarah Gretter suggests three sets of approaches to questioning: source, feelings and reflection.
1.- Question: The first one is to ask children questions about the ad they are watching. What’s the purpose, why they are using certain images, colors, genders, who do they think is their target audience, who is placing the ad, etc. Basically, all the questions we ask students to ask themselves when evaluating a source of information.
2.- Feelings. ask children how does the commercial makes them feel. What colors,sounds, wording, people the ad is using to persuade them to do or think something a certain way. This one caught my attention and made me remember when I was a child in a still analog world and when TV was starting to be in color. I was watching an ad of chocolates on TV with my little brother. The ad appealed very much to the senses. It was just a close up of somebody unwrapping a chocolate bar. The sound of the aluminium foil and the sight of seen somebody putting that chocolate on her mouth made my little brother to drop everything, get his allowance from his piggy bank and run to the convenience store that was in the corner of our street, to buy the exact chocolate he saw on TV. I still remember the whole thing. It really struck me the persuasiveness of a simple commercial on my little brother’s mind.
3.- Reflection. reflect on the motives and values behind the commercial. What are the techniques and motives surrounding commercials, what is the themes, the message, the point of view, what values are reinforced.
I still remember going to the movies in my twenties with friends, and watching Marlboro commercials of tough cowboys, or sexy blond couples on a yacht in the Caribbean drinking and smoking cigarettes without knowing that instead of living happily ever after they were buying probably an early death. Every time we watched those commercials, we laughed and said out loud in the movie theater: Tomorrow I ‘ll start smoking Marlboros and drinking gin and tonic.
Story aside, I smoked on and off between ages 19 and 27. All started on a Christmas eve when I opened a present from a dear aunt: lots of skinny long cigarettes of different colors. They looked like a box of markers. I don’t know what my aunt was thinking. Probably it was a present that somebody gave it to her. Sure enough, I decided to give them a try. I was not a child anymore, still, I wish my parents have talked to me, questioned my aunt’s present, and asked me how did I feel about the whole ordeal. To be fair, by that time my parents were smokers, and my mom even smoked when she was in bed! I remember though, I felt strange when I opened the package, surprised to receive such a present. They looked so sophisticated, even expensive. I felt curious of those skinny colorful cylinders that could make me look very provocative when in reality I was a nerd.
The 4 Cs. Chocolates, Cigarrettes, Comercials and Children.
Gretter, Sarah (Feb.22, 2019). 3 tips: How to teach children to watch commercials more closely The Conversation, United States.