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What's wrong with enjoying advertising?

Absolutely nothing. In fact, appreciating advertising is a great way to help kids begin to view media critically. As with any other creative discipline, good advertising relies on certain rules that are proven to produce results. "Sell the sizzle, not the steak" is a perfect example of the advertising principle that people are swayed by emotions.

Brilliant marketers incorporate these kinds of tried-and-true techniques in innovative ways. They also create provocative ads by defying convention. And let's not forget that those low-budget ads -- such as your local personal injury law firm's spot -- are great fodder for discussion.

Of course, you don't have to know anything about advertising to appreciate it and start a conversation with your kids. Ads are getting more and more creative all the time, and they're such a huge part of kids' worlds, that taking note of them and discussing them can be a genuine form of entertainment.

Extend the fun (and learning) by asking your kids questions about advertising:

  • How would they advertise something, such as a favorite toy or book?
  • What feeling (happiness, sadness, anger) would they want people to feel to make them buy something?
  • What would they not want people to know (for example, that the toy is kind of beat-up)? Is it fair to leave that information out of your ad?
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