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Core Concepts of Media Literacy
1. MEDIA MESSAGES ARE CONSTRUCTED. (Somebody makes up the
TV shows, movies, video games, etc. you use.)
2. MEDIA USE UNIQUE LANGUAGES WITH THEIR OWN SET OF
RULES. (For example, large newspaper headlines in bold print
mean “this is important.” Movie music played in minor key means
“scary.”)
3. DIFFERENT AUDIENCES UNDERSTAND THE SAME MESSAGE
DIFFERENTLY. (In other words, when different people watch the
same show, they see different things; or when we listen to a song
we might feel differently, etc.)
4. MEDIA HAVE COMMERCIAL CONSIDERATIONS. (People create
media so they can make money.)
5. MEDIA HAVE IMBEDDED VALUES AND POINT OF VIEWS. (TV
shows, magazines, video games and other media messages show
you what someone else thinks is important.)
Common Advertising
Strategies & the Core
Concepts of Media
Literacy
Media Studies 120
Ms. White
THEME #1: “Ideal People”
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The people in commercials are often a
little more perfect. They are role models
for what the advertiser wants the target
audience to think they want to be like.
YouTube - Tommy Hilfiger Spring
Summer 2008 Advertising Campaign
“Ideal People” techniques:
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1. AVANT GARDE
The suggestion that using this
product puts the user ahead of the
times.
YouTube - Ipod Ad
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2. TRANSFER
Words and ideas with positive
connotations are used to suggest
that the positive qualities should be
associated with the product and the
user .
YouTube - Gouda Ad
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3. SNOB APPEAL
The suggestion that the use of the
product makes the customer part of
an elite group with a luxurious and
glamorous life style.
YouTube - Luxury SUV - Kia - Commercial
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4. GLITTERING GENERALITIES
Uses appealing words and images to
sell the product. The message this
commercial gives, though indirectly,
is that if you buy the item, you will
be using a wonderful product, and it
will change your life.
YouTube - Cover Girl Commercial
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6. WIT AND HUMOR
Customers are attracted to products
that divert by giving viewers a
reason to laugh or to be entertained
by clever use of visuals or language.
YouTube - Mac ads - Networking
Theme #2: “Heart Strings”
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Commercials often create an emotional
ambience that draws you into the
advertisement and makes you feel good.
YouTube - Mcdonalds Family
“Heart Strings” Techniques:
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1. PATRIOTISM
The suggestion that purchasing this
product shows your love of your
country.
YouTube - Molson - Hockey Fight
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2. PLAIN FOLKS
The suggestion that the product is a
practical product of good value for
ordinary people.
YouTube - Cheerios Commercial
Theme #3:
“Amazing Products”
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Many toy commercials show their toys in life-like
fashion, doing incredible things. Airplanes do
loop-the-loops and cars do wheelies, dolls cry
and spring-loaded missiles hit gorillas dead in
the chest. This would be fine if the toys really did
these things…
Much Ado About Christmas: Toys, Traditions &
Fun | CBC Archives
“Amazing Products”
techniques:
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1. WEASEL WORDS
“Weasel words" are used to suggest
a positive meaning without actually
really making any guarantee.
For example: a scientist says that a
diet product might help you to lose
weight the way it helped him to lose
weight.
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2. LIFE-LIKE SETTINGS
Barbie struts her stuff on the beach with
waves crashing in the background, space
aliens fly through dark outer space and allterrain vehicles leap over rivers and
trenches. The rocks, dirt, sand and water
don't come with the toys, however.
YouTube - Buy Me That: Helping Kids
Understand Toy Ads
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3. SOUNDS GOOD
Music and other sound effects add to the
excitement of commercials. Sound can
make things seem more life-like or less
life-like, as in a music video. Either way,
they help set the mood advertisers want.
YouTube - Zellers "Everything from A to
Z" 2007 alphabet commercial
YouTube - New Jaguar XF Ad
Theme #4: “Celebrity”
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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sell pizza. Spuds
McKenzie sells beer. Joe Cool Camel sells
cigarettes. All of these are ways of helping
children identify with products either now or
for the future. The same is true for adults.
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1. BAND WAGON
Plays with the desire of most people to
join the crowd, be on the winning side, be
popular…
The popularity of a product is important to many people.
Even though we say we make our own choice when buying
something we often choose well-advertised items– the
popular ones. Advertising copywriters must be careful
with the bandwagon propaganda technique because most
of us see ourselves as individuals who think for ourselves.
If the “bandwagon” is too obvious, viewers may reject the
product outright.
YouTube - Celebrity ad: "Vote"
“Celebrity” techniques:
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2. TESTIMONIAL
A famous personality is used to
endorse the product.
YouTube - Carrie Underwood Nintendo DS
Lite Commercial
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3. SELECTIVE EDITING
Commercials show only brilliant catches
and perfect throws; flawless performances;
great feats.
YouTube - Nike Commercial
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4. SIMPLE SOLUTIONS
Avoid complexities, and attack many
problems with one solution.
YouTube - Teri Hatcher Clairol Nice'n Easy
Theme #5:
“Knowledge & Science”
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1. FACTS AND FIGURES
Statistics and objective factual information
is used to prove the superiority of the
product.
For example: a car manufacturer quotes the
amount of time it takes their car to get from 0
to 100 km/h.
2. CARD STACKING
The technique of Card-Stacking is so widespread
that we may not always be aware of its presence in
a commercial. Basically, it means stacking the
cards in favor of the product; advertisers stress is
positive qualities and ignore negative.
For example, if a brand of snack food is loaded with
sugar (and calories), the commercial may boast
that the product is low in fat, which implies that it
is also low in calories.
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