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Be An Ad Detective
Source: Council for Economic Education (EconEdLink) | Type: Lesson

Every day, students are bombarded by advertising. They cannot escape it. But marketers realize that many people—especially young people—are becoming very good at tuning ads out. Businesses thus are becoming more creative in their communication with consumers. In this lesson, the students assume the role of detectives searching for the new places where advertisers are promoting themselves and their products. They also investigate logos, imaginary characters, slogans and jingles—tools used by advertisers to develop brand awareness. This lesson works well as a follow-up to the EconEdLink lesson Did You Get the Message?




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Great Lesson - Lots of Interaction! Students Loved it!    July 31, 2008
By: Burk, A
This was the perfect lesson to teach about advertising from showing slogans and jingles to advertising tips and tricks. As a teacher it hit every point I wanted to discuss.
For the students it was very interactive and fun! This lesson takes you to the PBS kids website and walks you through real advertisements and then lets you create your own cereal box.
I even enjoyed the extension activites, with #2 being the most compatible for my class. We even took it a step further and created advertisements for the class itself to promote to other students during registration week.
Great Lesson!!

Very Good Lesson    December 19, 2008
By: Prusa, M
This lesson is especially good for middle school and junior high students and helps them learn more about the world of advertising. It also helps students learn to use advertising wisely.

Great Lesson    May 9, 2010
By: McQuinn, A
The lesson “Be an Ad Detective” is a lesson all students can enjoy and learn about advertising. Students explore many examples of advertisements. Also, they learn how the role of logos, imaginary characters, slogans and jingles develop brand awareness.

One sixty-minute class period is needed to complete the activities in this lesson. Printing and copying the Be an Ad Detective worksheet prior to beginning the lesson is helpful. When you distribute the worksheet to students, it is important to explain to them that it will be used in evaluating their understanding of the lesson.

The Activity 1 - PBS Kids website - and the interactive activity in Activity 2 are very appropriate for use by students. However, the Extension Activity 2 – Advertising Jingles shows a few ads that are not appropriate for elementary age students. If you use the website -, I suggest the teacher navigate the site and skip to the appropriate jingles. The Extension Activity 3 website - is appropriate for use by all students.

Extension Activity 2 suggests to make a bulletin board for the classroom to reinforce student awareness of the pervasive nature of ads, and it is a great idea. The students could also create their own posters using examples of the logos, fantasy characters, slogans and jingles they found as they searched for advertisements.

Students have fun searching for ads and navigating the websites in this lesson. I suggest you have a laptop cart or computer lab available to allow each student enough time to individually complete the interactive activities.

Super Idea!    July 14, 2010
By: Bachman, M
My students will love searching for ads! This will be a very hands on lesson. In my foods unit I would add some taste tests, like comparing Pepsi and Coke and off brand, or chips and salsa.