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2.3.7 PracticeMake Your Own Paid Advertisement

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Practice Guide

Media Literacy (S2318458)


Draw upon your own creative resources and create a unique advertisement for a product or service of your choosing. The advertisement should be persuasive, target a specific audience, and use media in a compelling way. You can either produce the advertisement (that is, you can use the materials and media available to you to make it) or present detailed instructions for the creation of the advertisement.

Make sure to consider the following:

  • What will you advertise? 
    Your advertisement might promote a product or service. What is its unique selling point? Does it have a brand identity? You can choose to advertise a real product that already exists or a product you can imagine existing — just be sure to make your choice clear.
  • What form will your advertisement take? 
    Will it appear in print form? As a video? Online? You might choose to “mock up” a print advertisement or write the script for a commercial or product-placement opportunity.
  • Who is your target audience? 
    Is there a particular group of people you are trying to reach? Where are they found? What kinds of things do they like? In your opinion, what kinds of media are they most likely to respond to?

Before you begin, you might want to review the study sheet for this lesson and conduct some advertising research of your own. Take notes about the most effective and least effective ads you see. What about them do you find compelling, boring, or innovative?

As you begin to draft your advertisement, remember:

  • Many persuasive advertisements are effective because they actively engage consumers. How might you engage your consumer? Does your advertisement have a hook? Would it be appropriate to use a jingle, logo, motto, QR code, or cross-media follow-up opportunity?
  • Some persuasive advertisements are effective because they sneak up on consumers. Could you take advantage of a consumer’s expectations of certain forms (like newspaper articles) or incorporate subliminal strategies?
  • Most advertisements use a combination of rhetorical strategies to reach consumers. Are you appealing to consumers’ emotion, logic, and sense of character? Does your advertisement have a sense of urgency?
  • You can engage your inner artist. For example, if you are musical, you might compose a jingle or think about how you can use music to set the mood for an advertisement. Remember, too, that many advertisements rely on a combination of words and images.

Step 1: Understand the Assignment

Rewrite the assignment in your own words. Underline any important words that help you focus on the task.

Step 2: Understand Your Product

You can’t sell a product if you don’t know what it is, so take time to write a detailed description of your product. Begin by answering the following questions, then note anything you haven’t already stated.

  1. What is your product? What does it do? 
  2. What does the product look like? What are its notable features? 
  3. How does it — or why should it — stand out from other, similar products? What is its unique selling point? 
  4. Who are the obvious consumers who might use this product? What about the not-so-obvious consumers to whom it might be marketed? 

Step 3: Make Observations and Form Opinions

Review your notes from the lesson for information that might help you with the assignment.

  1. One thing that came up in the lesson is that advertisements — for many things and in many forms — are around us all the time. Review the notes you made on advertisements you’ve seen and make a list of techniques and strategies you’ve found to be most and least effective. Underline or highlight specific techniques and strategies you might want to use in your own advertisement. 
  2. Think about your target audience. Who are they? What is unique to them? Where do the people you are trying to reach live, work, and play? What are some things they might need? What are some things they might be sensitive about? 
  3. What form do you envision your advertisement taking? Is there a form that would really reach your audience or show off your product? 
  4. Return to your list of techniques and strategies (from question 1). How could you use them in the form you’ve chosen? 
  5. What could you add to your advertisement to help it really stand out and stay in people’s minds? Depending on what format you chose, is there a catchy song or jingle you’d want to use? A specific image you want to include, or a look or style you want to create, to set your product apart? Is there a character or meme you want to create (or borrow) to be associated with your product? If you already addressed some of these ideas above, use this space to expand on them a little. 

Step 4: First Draft: Script, Storyboard, or Mock-Up

Now’s it’s time to carry out your response to the last question and begin making a first draft of your advertisement. If you are making a TV, radio, video, or animated ad, try making a script or storyboard for what will happen in your commercial. If you are making a print, billboard, or Internet ad, you might try making a mockup of the images, colors, and texts you include by drawing your ideas or using collage. 

You can also use a combination of these forms, too — just make sure you use this step to begin fleshing out your advertisement ideas in a more concrete way. If you like what you make in this step, you can revise and build on it to create your final draft — or just use this step to try some ideas out. 

Creating a Script

Writing a script is one method you might choose if you are planning a filmed, radio, or animated advertisement. If you are including a jingle or original song, you can also write out the lyrics as part of your script. Here’s a sample script format to help you get started: 

Writing a Script

Two robots are sitting across from each other in an artist’s studio. The brick walls behind them are crumbling. The table in front of them is covered with books, a few laptops, a television, a camera, a few cups of coffee, and a giant notepad. 

Robot 1 is a female robot in her early twenties. She has a clearly developed fashion sense; she wears a jeans skirt and a vintage T-shirt. Robot 2 is a male robot of the same age. He is wearing a button-down shirt, which is not tucked into his slacks. 

Robot 1: Do you know what a script looks like? 

Robot 2: I used to know, but I’m not sure I remember. Remind me? 

Robot 1: Well, O.K. When I write a script, the first thing I do is set the background. I describe the place where the scene is happening and who’s involved. Then I usually start with dialogue. I write the name of whoever is speaking and follow it with a colon. 

Robot 2: [scratching his head] That makes sense. What about when you have to describe actions or communications that aren’t verbal? 

Robot 1: I put them in brackets to set them apart: [The doorbell rings.].

Creating a Storyboard 

A storyboard shows what will happen moment to moment in a scene, and is especially useful for action-type advertisements. Use the different boxes (like a comic strip) to show what happens at each step — you can include spoken elements as well, or just show the images. You can fill in the template below with your ideas — you can even cut out the squares and rearrange them to find the most effective narrative for your advertisement.

Mocking Up an Advertisement 

Maybe you are working with an online or print advertisement? Use a blank sheet of paper to “mock up” a computer screen or magazine page. Consider cutting out words and pictures from other advertisements to help you generate the look or style you’d like to create when you make your own original advertisement.

Step 5: Put It All Together: Ad Time

Now it’s time to pull all your ideas, drafts, and creative resources together to create a unique advertisement for a product. Remember, your advertisement should be persuasive (appealing to logic, emotion, character, or some combination), target a specific audience, and use media in a compelling way. You can either produce the advertisement (that is, you can use the materials and media available to you to make the advertisement itself), or you can write detailed instructions for the creation of the advertisement (which may also include a script, storyboard, mock-up, or just written paragraphs explaining what the advertisement will be like). 

Some things to keep in mind:

  • If you are producing the advertisement, what materials and media will you use? Make sure you gather together all your supplies first, so you concentrate on bringing your ideas to life! (Use your script, storyboard, or mock-up to help inform your ad’s final production.)
  • If you are writing detailed instructions for the creation of the advertisement, are they clear enough that someone else could follow them to produce your advertisement? (You may include your script, storyboard, or mock-up to help explain what you will make – but make sure you revise them as necessary.)

Have fun!

Step 6: Final Draft Checklist

As you get ready to hand in your final draft, answer the following questions to make sure you completed the assignment successfully.

Make sure you:

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