Advertising & Manipulation (Advanced Lesson)

ESL/EFL Level: Advanced (C1/C2)
Lesson Topics: TV commercials, advertising ethics
Skill Focus: Speaking, Listening, Vocabulary
Approximate Class Time: 2 hours
Lesson Plan Download: advertising-manipulation-video-advanced-082023.docx
Lesson Overview:

  • After warm-up questions, students do some pre-listening vocabulary matching to help them better understand the content of a BBC video.
  • Next, students pre-read comprehension questions and then watch a short (4:39 min) BBC video from 2019 about techniques for persuasion in TV commercials. The video is followed by some questions for discussion.
  • The next section contains speaking activities. First, students role-play a cold call between a business owner and an advertising agency. Afterward, they create a TV advertisement for the owner's business and then pitch it to him/her.
  • In the next section, students watch four classic TV commercials and analyze them based on several criteria.
  • This is followed by a speaking activity in which students must recommend actions to improve the advertising industry in their country.
  • As a final speaking activity, there is a fun roleplay between the customer of a burger restaurant and its owner about false advertising.
  • The lesson closes with a vocabulary review activity, final discussion questions, and a review of collocations.
  • Note: The speaker in the video has a British accent.

A child watching television.

ADVANCED (C1/C2) EFL Lesson Plan on Advertising & Manipulation

Warm-up Questions

  1. How often do you see or hear advertisements in a day?
  2. Can you think of any memorable ads?
  3. Do ads influence your behavior or decisions? Have you ever made a purchase because of one?
  4. Have you heard of Apple’s famous 1984 ad?
  5. What themes or values do you associate with the company Apple?

Pre-Listening: Match the vocabulary to the correct definitions before watching the video.
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-- Lesson plan on Advertising & Manipulation written by Matthew Barton of (copyright). ChatGPT was used for feedback on lesson activities and to generate answer keys. Site members may photocopy and edit the file for their classes. Permission is not given to rebrand the lesson, redistribute it on another platform, or sell it as part of commercial course curriculum. For questions, contact the author.

Possible answers to comprehension questions:

  1. The Renault ad evoked feelings of sexiness and flirtation in viewers.
  2. The Apple 1984 ad was trying to convey the message that the world was being dominated by IBM at the time, and Apple was going to break out of that era. It portrayed Apple as the defender of the people and the defender of freedom.
  3. The Huawei ad featuring a Gnu plays with viewers' emotions by showing a photographer who decides not to take a photo of a Gnu when he imagines the negative consequences that could follow. The ad evokes emotions of sympathy, morality, and the idea that the viewer can be their own judge of morality with Huawei.
  4. Robert Heath thinks the ad is nonsense because it suggests that using a Huawei phone allows you to be your own judge of morality.
  5. The first is to simply not watch any advertising. The second strategy is to watch the ad very carefully and analyze it, asking questions like "What are you trying to do?" and "What are you trying to influence?" Heath suggests counter-arguing the emotional content in ads to feel more in control of your own emotions and decisions.
  6. Robert Heath's main message is that advertising is effective at attaching emotions to brands, and that these emotional connections can have a powerful influence on consumers' perceptions and choices.

Vocabulary Answers: 1-j, 2-a, 3-c, 4-f, 5-g, 6-d, 7-L, 8-h, 9-b, 10-k, 11-e, 12-i

Vocabulary Review: 1-astonishingly, 2-daft, 3-hurls the mallet, 4-flirting, 5-twiddly bits, 6-emotive content, 7-reflected…epitome, 8-counter-arguing

Collocation Answers: 1-d, 2-a, 3-h, 4-i, 5-g, 6-e, 7-b, 8-c, 9-f

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