Commercial: Students as Salespeople

The commercial is entertaining for students to produce and will challenge them to condense a message that is engaging and memorable into a 30-second spot. 

While this genre of video does not take as long as others, students will be surprised at how difficult it is to communicate effectively in such a short period of time.  I find that one and a half minutes is a more reasonable amount of time to give students attempting to shoot a commercial for the first time.

The subject of students’ commercials can be fictitious products.  Students can be creative and market a watch that can take you back in time ten seconds to correct a mistake, or smart pills to increase academic ability.  Or commercials can be informative and educational; have students sell conjunctions or semicolons to improve writing, or market the quadratic equation to solve difficult math problems.

Your students should try to create a marketing strategy for the product that will construct an association between the product they are promoting and something desirable, as is done in the advertising industry.  The “Got Milk?” campaign associates glamorous and famous figures with drinking milk, signified by the milk mustaches they all wear.  Pepsi appeals to young people, “The Next Generation,” claiming Pepsi is “what it takes to be young.” These campaigns try to associate a liquid from a cow and a carbonated soft drink with glamour and youth.

As a homework assignment before they produce their own commercial, have the students watch for, list, and then analyze their favorite commercials.  Have them pay special attention to associations the marketers are trying to create in hopes of promoting their product as a necessary ingredient to being socially acceptable, physically attractive, and all other things desirable.  Also have students watch for “expert testimony” and quasi-scientific demonstrations.  By producing their own commercial and attempting to create their own advertising campaigns, students become more keenly aware of the techniques used in marketing and become more sophisticated and discerning consumers.