Buy Me That: The Powerful Influence of TV Toy Commercials, How TV Toy Commercials Influence Our Kids

©2008 Frank Baker




The newly released Partnership for 21st Century Skills Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Literacy Map for English (Oct. 2004)
includes the following sample Student Outcome:

By grade 4 students will be able to:
– make a record of commercials aired during Saturday morning cartoon programming. Categorize and tally such details as:
the kinds of products advertised,
– the method(s) the ad uses to attract younger viewers,
– the gender the ad seems to address,
– and estimated ages of children appearing in the ads

Select several of the ads and survey classmates about what ads are favorites.
Analyze the survey for patterns of popular appeal. What are “patterns of popular appeal?”

McREL National Standards  which include Advertising

All teachers should ask themselves: what do I want students to know about advertising in general, and then specifically advertising on television, and
the advertising of toys on television.

You can certainly ask students:
– where might they find commercials for toys?
( Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, the Disney Channel, Saturday morning network TV)

-can they remember any particular toy ad they’ve seen recently?

-can they remember which network or cable/satellite channel it aired on?

-can they remember what, specifically in the ad, made the toy look so attractive or appealing?

This activity is designed to help them understand the concept of target audience, and how advertisers use certain production techniques to make a toy look irresistible.

One of my first objectives is to introduce the major concepts of media literacy.

Several concepts apply directly to this activity including:
all media are constructed;
media use unique and creative languages;
media are primarily businesses designed to make a profit.

The following handouts will be helpful to you and your students as you progress through the procedures:

Handout #1   Questions to ask about toys & advertising

Handout #2
  Script for Typhoon 2 toy seen in “Buy Me That Too”   

Handout #3   Script for Turbo Tricksters toy seen in  “Buy Me That”

Handout #4
   Attributes of commercials aimed at girls and boys

Download Toy Ad Tricks (Zillions magazine, Nov./Dec. 1998)
NOTE: This is a large file and will take several minutes to download, depending
on your connection.

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