Commercials and Marketing

Video: Adland: Where Commercials Come From

Level: Middle, High school
Subject: History, Economics, Media Studies
Creator: TVTV
Date: 1974
Duration: 59 minutes
Synopsis:
This 1974 documentary produced by independent video pioneers TVTV provides a stunning view of the people behind the advertising industry. Featuring legendary admen George Lois, Keith Reinhard, and Jerry Della Femina, actor and director Howie Morris, child star Mason Reese, Marshall Efron of “American Dream Machine,” King Moody as Ronald McDonald, and much more. This insightful program provides a fun and often unbelievable look at where commercials come from. It’s a time capsule of the post-Mad Men era in American influence peddling.

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Teaching Tools

Discussion questions

Note: Questions are arranged based on when they occur in the video

  1. How does George Lois describe the purpose of commercials?
  2. What aspect of McDonald’s was being marketed according to Howie Morris?
  3. Who is the McDonald’s advertising targeting? Why do you think it would be effective?
  4. What argument is George Lois making about match sticks?
  5. Why are cliches important in advertising?
  6. What cliches is the Fabergé commercial using?
  7. What is Jack Burns’ view on language in advertising?
  8. Why does George Lois think people are in the industry?
  9. Do commercials just provide information or do they actually change minds?

Activities

  1. After watching the videos, have students pick a product to advertise. Think about the techniques used in the video and have students apply them to their advertisements. The advertisement can be print, online, television, or radio.
  2. Have students write a paper about the history of advertising. What are the differences in print, radio, television, and internet advertising?
  3. Have the students write a paper about the pros and cons of advertising based on the ideas presented in the video.