An Ad of My Own


  • Define the term marketing;
  • Identify an ad's objectives;
  • Know which practices are governed by the Consumer Protection Act.


Students are made aware of how advertising affects us and exercise critical thinking in analyzing the content of advertisements, or ads, and advertising strategies. They go on to develop their own ad campaign.


  • Board;
  • Computers;
  • Internet connection;
  • Supplies to make a poster;
  • Advertising Strategies Student Worksheet;
  • Advertising Strategies Answer Key;
  • Ad Analysis table.


With this activity, the teacher chooses the steps he or she finds most relevant based on the concepts addressed earlier in class and the available time. For example, the teacher may choose steps 1, 2 and 3 or steps 1, 2 and 4.

The teacher questions students to initiate a discussion in which students express how they view themselves and some of their habits where advertising is concerned. These questions are intended to elicit an answer that is as spontaneous and frank as possible. The teacher uses the method of his or her choice to maintain anonymity: by distributing a written questionnaire, by asking students to lower their head and answer with a show of hands, or by using a free online survey platform like Poll Everywhere if the group has access to computers, tablets, or cell phones in the classroom.

Student questionnaire (the teacher selects the questions he or she finds most relevant)

Lift your hand if…

  • You find yourself beautiful or good-looking just the way you are.
  • As a rule, you're proud of yourself.
  • You would like to be better looking or more beautiful than you are.
  • You think other people judge you based on your appearance.
  • Being more popular would make you happy.
  • You find that wearing a certain brand name makes you look better in the eyes of others.
  • You've ever purchased a product because it was in style.
  • You've ever purchased a product to make you feel better about yourself.
  • You've ever influenced a friend to buy something.
  • A parent has ever prevented you from making a purchase.
  • You ever bought something right after seeing an ad for it.
  • You ever felt embarrassed because you did not own something.
  • You would like to look more like some girls or boys you see in advertising.
  • You have a favourite brand.
  • You've ever judged someone based on their appearance or clothing.

For each of these questions, the teacher may take the time to count up the number of positive responses or indicate on the board whether most students answered "Yes." Based on this information, the teacher leads a class discussion that prompts students to reflect on how they see themselves and on the power of advertising on that self-image. The purpose is to make them realize that advertising is purposely designed to play on how they see themselves and others. To achieve this, the following concepts should be raised:

Concepts to be defined with students:

Self-esteem: “Self-esteem is the way a person feels about themselves and how much they value or appreciate their own worth. Someone with a healthy self-esteem can feel good about themselves and take pride in what they do, their skills, and their accomplishments. Self-esteem is the result of comparing who you want to be and who you are.”[1]

Body image: “Body image is how a person thinks of their appearance. It involves that individual’s cognitive, emotional, conscious, or unconscious perception of his or her body. Body image differs from one person to the next, depending on personality and socio-cultural environment.”[2] A negative self-image may stem from being subjected to repeated criticism, resulting in damage to his or her own point of view.

Advertising: An activity designed to broaden awareness of a brand, change consumer behaviour, inform the public, convince consumers to purchase a product or use a given service, and so on; a series of methods and techniques used for this purpose (commonly referred to as an ad); advertising agency.

Marketing: “The action or business of promoting or selling products and services, including market research and advertising.”[3]

Stereotypes (sexual stereotyping): “Stereotypes are mental clichés that are stable, constant, and unlikely to change. According to Leyens, Yzerbyt, and Schadron (1996), stereotypes are shared believes about personal characteristics, generally personality traits, but also often the behaviours of a group of people. They facilitate communication because they are conventional, schematic, simplistic, generalized, and enduring. They are shorthand for a long, discursive, or demonstrative explanation. Stereotypes are used mechanically so we can ascribe order and meaning to reality. They are also a way for a group to maintain cohesiveness and a sense of safety.”[4]

Difference between a need and a want (reminder): Basic needs are those that absolutely must be met in order for you to survive. Needs are also universal in nature: everyone has the same needs. They stem from a lack or will cause one if not satisfied. A want arises from a choice or a desire rather than from necessity. Satisfying a want is not essential, but it does make life more pleasant. Our personal tastes and priorities, culture, and fashion shape our purchasing decisions. That cannot be said of needs.

Advertising strategies: Ways to reach an audience, cajoling consumers to create a need or to make them dependent on a product, to make them believe they need it, and encourage them to buy it.


At this point, the students learn about certain widespread advertising strategies. Using the Advertising Strategies Student Worksheet, they associate each strategy with the correct definition.

Next, students share their answers, and the teacher validates these using the Answer Key. Together, they give examples of ads they are familiar with to illustrate each of these strategies. These ads can also be presented on screen, on YouTube for example, if the class has the necessary equipment. The teacher may also have prepared examples to illustrate some of the strategies addressed.

During correction, the teacher explains the distinction between commercial and public service advertising: public service or educational advertising aims to change attitudes or behaviour to the benefit of the ad's audience or to the benefit of society. The teacher asks the students to give known examples of this type of advertising.

He or she also takes advantage of this opportunity to tell them about certain laws that govern advertising. In fact, "in addition to being governed by the provincial Consumer Protection Act, advertising is subject to the federal Competition Act, which falls under the responsibility of the Competition Bureau. The Canadian Code of Advertising Standards also sets acceptability criteria to ensure the integrity and viability of advertising in Canada.”[5]

Excerpts of certain legislation on advertising:

"A commercial that contains false or misleading information or that does not present the whole truth is illegal.”[6]

“The Consumer Protection Act prohibits commercial advertising that targets children under the age of thirteen. The Office de la protection du consommateur (OPC) oversees compliance with this legislation.”[7]

A merchant advertising a sale item must have enough in stock to meet demand. “If quantity is limited, the merchant must disclose the exact quantity he has in stock in the advertisements. Notes such as ‘limited quantity’ or ‘while supplies last’ are not precise enough.”[8]

Research on advertising

At this stage, the idea is to create an ad bank that will be used for analysis and discussion. As homework, students must find a certain number of ads from a range of media (magazines, flyers, Internet, television, etc.) selling a range of products (shampoo, perfume, cosmetics, watches, food, alcohol, energy drinks, cars, etc.). These can also be public service ads.

In class, each student chooses an ad from his or her bank and studies it using the following analysis table.

Ad Analysis



What product or service is this ad promoting?


What is the ad's purpose?


Who is paying for this ad?


What message is conveyed in this ad?


What is the medium?


Who is the intended audience? (target audience)


The teacher then reviews some of the students' analyses, highlighting the elements that make for effective advertising—i.e., an ad that achieves its objective—or less effective advertising, using this opportunity to review certain common advertising strategies.

Next, for the fun of it, the group can vote for some of the ads brought to class based on categories. For example, students can vote for the most sexist ad, the most convincing ad, the most shocking ad, or the most ineffective ad.


Creating an ad campaign

In light of what they have learned, the students are now asked to imagine that they work for an advertising agency. Together, the class starts by figuring out the steps to designing an ad campaign:

  1. Analyze the client’s needs
  2. Plan and develop the strategy
  3. Design the advertising material
  4. Roll out the campaign
  5. Assess the results

Next, in teams of four, the students must design an ad campaign to sell a product or service of their choice. They must:

  • find a name and a visual (if necessary) for the product or service
  • come up with a slogan (if desired)
  • target a market
  • determine how to strategically place their ad or product (specific magazine, website, television, television show, or type of film in which the product would appear)
  • identify which advertising strategies they would use
  • create their advertising material
  • be able to justify their advertising choices

The teacher may choose to require that some teams work on a public service ad campaign.

Once the ad campaigns are completed, the teams present them to the class. At the end of each presentation, team members may ask the other students which of them would buy the product or service in order to determine the effectiveness of their campaign.

Reinvestment activity

Students can create a short survey asking family and friends about their habits when it comes to advertising, then discuss the results with the rest of the class.

The group can also work to design a public service ad campaign to raise student awareness at the school about a topic that affects them.

Additional resources


[1] Kids Help Phone, Self-Esteem [online]. [site consulted November 11, 2021].

[2] [Translation of French-only content:] Centre de documentation sur l’éducation des adultes et la condition féminine, Pour que les jeunes aient une perception positive de leur corps, [online]. [site consulted November 11, 2021].

[3] The Canadian Oxford Dictionary. Second edition. Katherine Barber, Ed. Don Mills, Ontario: Oxford University Press.

[4] [Translation of French-only content:] Leyens J.-P., Yzerbyt V. et Schadron G., 1996. Stéréotypes et cognition sociale. Sprimont : Mardaga, 311 p.

[5] [Translation of French-only content:] Office de la protection du consommateur, Pratiques publicitaires interdites, [online]. [site consulted November 11, 2021].

[6] [Translation of French-only content:] Office de la protection du consommateur, Pratiques publicitaires interdites, [online]. [site consulted November 11, 2021].

[7] Office de la protection du consommateur. Advertising directed at children, [online]. [site consulted November 11, 2021].

[8] Office de la protection du consommateur. Out-of stock-items, [online]. [site consulted November 11, 2021].