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Reading Between The Lines

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TOPIC: Advertising

CONCEPT: Pressures to use alcohol, tobacco and other drugs come from many sources. One of the most powerful pressures to use alcohol and tobacco comes from the media. The ads portray things that young people want. Popularity, sex appeal and fun are esteemed by many young adults but, they can be deceiving. The ads do not tell the truth about the effects of using alcohol and tobacco. Young people need to learn how to analyze advertisements to tell the difference between fact and fiction.

GRADE LEVEL: High School

Method: Class room activity
Time Frame: 20 minutes plus "Discussion"
Material: Butcher paper, colored markers, masking tape, alcohol and cigarette ads.


ACTIVITY: Have each student bring in an alcohol or cigarette ad from a magazine. Ask several students to volunteer to show their ads and tell the class what they see in each ad, what the ad appears to be promising and what makes it so appealing that people want to buy the product. Ask for additional comments from the class. Divide the class into groups of four or five, have each group chose one alcohol ad and one cigarette ad to re-write so the ad tells the truth. They may re-write the slogan only or re-draw the entire ad. Ask each group to show the re-write, tell about the re-write and put it up on the wall.

DISCUSSION: After the demonstration facilitate a discussion utilizing the following questions. Be sure to emphasize that we are all influenced by advertisement and need to be aware of how deceptive ads may be.

Discussion ideas:

  • How is advertising a form of pressure?

  • What is happening in the ad that makes students want to try the product?

  • How do ads mislead us?

  • If you buy the product will you look like or be like the people in the ads?

  • What should we look for when we read an advertisement?

  • Should there be a law that requires ads to be completely true? Why or why not?

  • What strategies do alcohol and cigarette companies use in their ads to get teens to try their products?

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