There is no better time to incorporate media literacy into the language arts classroom than the week before and after the Super Bowl. Deconstructing past and present Super Bowl commercials provides an opportunity to practice analytical skills in a medium that students are familiar with and will find engaging.
Lead into the activity by asking the class to generate a working definition for analysis. Gear the conversation toward why analysis can be valuable for consumers. Brainstorm (preferably in small groups) what Super Bowl Commercials they find most memorable. What product was being sold? What methods were used to sell the product? How effective was the commercial in its goal? This should not take up lots of time and avoid the urge to start randomly showing they request.
Preface the videos by pointing out how viewers love Super Bowl commercials for their creativity and entertainment value, but just like literature can be picked apart, commercials are also a text that contains messages that can be analyzed. Show your favorite commercial Super Bowl commercial once through. Discuss initial reactions. Then show it once more and then model super-detailed responses for the six questions below. Encourage students to add their insights to your observations.
1. What is the product or service being sold?
2. What is the general mood or feeling of the commercial?
3. How does the soundtrack play a role in your interpretation of the commercial?
4. How do the actors playing the characters affect your interpretation of the commercial?
5. How does the commercial try to get your attention?
6. Who is this commercial aimed towards?
Careful consideration should be given to any and all commercials you use for this activity as district policy and community standards vary greatly for what is deemed acceptable for classroom use. Here are three great classroom-friendly commercials from past Super Bowls that readily lend themselves to analysis:
A great way to take this activity a step further would be to have students produce their own commercials. A good source of inspiration would be Doritos’ Crash the Super Bowl commercial contest. A full-blown unit could also include various activities with print ads as well.
How have you included media analysis activities in the classroom?
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