CareerStart lessons: Grade eight

LEARN NC was a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education from 1997 – 2013. It provided lesson plans, professional development, and innovative web resources to support teachers, build community, and improve K-12 education in North Carolina. Learn NC is no longer supported by the School of Education – this is a historical archive of their website.

Essential question: How can awareness of the different methods of argument make you a more informed consumer?

Learning outcomes

Students will respond to various advertisements by addressing the ads’ use of bias, emotional factors, and semantic slanting.

Teacher planning

Materials needed

  • Examples of television, magazine, newspaper, and internet advertisements (See “pre-activities” below.)
  • Optional: Access to a video resource site such as Learn 360, United Streaming, or Teacher Tube.
  • LCD projector or other means of viewing advertisements as a class
  • Post-it notes
  • Advertising vocabulary handout (Note: These terms are also listed under “critical vocabulary” below.)
  • Several magazines — You may choose to have students bring in magazines they usually read.

Time required for lesson

30 minutes or one class period


  • Before the lesson, find several examples of television, magazine, newspaper, and internet advertisements that you can share with the class. Try to find examples the demonstrate a variety of the advertising techniques mentioned in the lesson. (See “critical vocabulary” below.)
  • Ask students to bring in magazines they usually read, or compile a variety of magazines — enough for each group of students to look at a few different magazines.


  1. Activating strategy: Show the class a few television or print advertisements using a projector and video resource website. Ask the students questions about the advertisements: Would they buy the products being advertised? Who is the ad targeting? What caught their eye about the advertisement?
  2. Have a class discussion about advertising techniques and the way advertisers target specific groups of people: men, women, children, teens, athletes, senior citizens, etc. Hand out the advertising vocabulary sheet and discuss each term with students. Ask them to name examples of each technique from ads they’ve seen.
  3. Show the examples of advertisements, and ask the students who they think the advertisers are targeting with each ad, using examples from the advertisement to support their answers. Ask them which advertising technique is being used in each ad.
  4. Put students into small groups. Pass out several different magazines to each group and ask them to find various examples of advertising and to decide which demographic each ad targets and which techniques are used. Have the students use post-it notes to label each advertising example.
  5. Have students work individually to choose an advertising technique that they were not able to find in the magazines they viewed. Each student will create an ad that uses this technique and is targeted to a teen audience.
  6. Wrap up the lesson with a discussion of some of the careers involved in advertising. (See Career Information below.)


This lesson provides a great opportunity for students to write a persuasive paper. Some suggested writing prompts:

  • You are trying to obtain a patent for a new product. What is your product and why is it more effective or better than existing products?
  • You want to convince an audience that you deserve a new iPhone. You must write two persuasive letters to different audiences (parents, grandparents, Santa Claus, a friend, etc.) In these letters, you must present information that you believe will persuade the audience to buy the iPhone for you.

Critical vocabulary

Note: These terms are listed on the vocabulary handout.

Loaded words
Words with strong associations such as “home,” “family,” “dishonest” and “wasteful.”
Attempts to make the audience associate positive words, images, and ideas with a product and its users.
Name calling
Comparing one product to another and saying it is weaker or inferior in quality or taste.
Glittering generality
Using words that are positive and appealing, but too vague to have any real meaning, like “pure and natural.”
A product is endorsed by a celebrity or by an expert.
The advertiser tries to make you feel like everyone else has the product and if you don’t have it too, you’ll be left out.
Snob appeal
The opposite of the bandwagon technique, snob appeal makes the case that using the product means the consumer is better/smarter/richer than everyone else.
A product’s name or catchphrase is repeated over and over, with the goal of having it stick in the viewer or listener’s mind.
The advertiser appeals to the audience’s vanity by implying that smart/popular/rich people buy the product.
Plain folks
The advertiser says or implies that people just like you use a product. (This often takes the form of a testimonial.)
Emotional appeals
The advertiser appeals to people’s fears, joys, sense of nostalgia, etc.
Facts and figures
Using statistics, research, or other data to make the product appear to be better than its competitors.
Special offer
The advertiser offers a discount, coupon, free gift, or other enticement to get people to buy a product.
The advertiser makes you feel like you need the product right away.

Career information

Career information comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook.

Advertising and public relations services

Nature of the industry

Firms in the advertising and public relations services industry prepare advertisements for other companies and organizations and design campaigns to promote the interests and image of their clients.

Training and qualifications

Most entry-level professional and managerial positions in advertising and public relations services require a bachelor’s degree, preferably with broad liberal arts exposure.


In 2006, nonsupervisory workers in advertising and public relations services averaged $724 a week—significantly higher than the $568 a week for all nonsupervisory workers in private industry.

Job prospects

Competition for many jobs will be keen because the glamour of the advertising and public relations services industry traditionally attracts many more job seekers than there are job openings. The best job opportunities will be for job seekers skilled in employing the increasing number and types of media outlets used to reach an increasingly diverse customer base.

Advertising, Marketing, Promotions, Public Relations, and Sales Managers

Nature of the work

Advertising, marketing, promotions, public relations, and sales managers coordinate their companies’ market research, marketing strategy, sales, advertising, promotion, pricing, product development, and public relations activities. In small firms, the owner or chief executive officer might assume all advertising, promotions, marketing, sales, and public relations responsibilities. In large firms, which may offer numerous products and services nationally or even worldwide, an executive vice president directs overall advertising, marketing, promotions, sales, and public relations policies.

Training and qualifications

A wide range of educational backgrounds is suitable for entry into advertising, marketing, promotions, public relations, and sales managerial jobs, but many employers prefer those with experience in related occupations.

For marketing, sales, and promotions management positions, some employers prefer a bachelor’s or master’s degree in business administration with an emphasis on marketing. Courses in business law, management, economics, accounting, finance, mathematics, and statistics are advantageous. Additionally, the completion of an internship while the candidate is in school is highly recommended.


Median annual earnings in May 2006 were $73,060 for advertising and promotions managers, $98,720 for marketing managers, $91,560 for sales managers, and $82,180 for public relations managers.

Job prospects

Advertising, marketing, promotions, public relations, and sales manager jobs are highly coveted and will be sought by other managers or highly experienced professionals, resulting in keen competition. College graduates with related experience, a high level of creativity, and strong communication skills should have the best job opportunities.

North Carolina curriculum alignment

English Language Arts (2004)

Grade 8

  • Goal 3: The learner will continue to refine the understanding and use of argument.
    • Objective 3.01: Explore and evaluate argumentative works that are read, heard and/or viewed by:
      • monitoring comprehension for understanding of what is read, heard and/or viewed.
      • analyzing the work by identifying the arguments and positions stated or implied and the evidence used to support them.
      • identifying the social context of the argument.
      • recognizing the effects of bias, emotional factors, and/or semantic slanting.
      • comparing the argument and counter-argument presented.
      • identifying/evaluating the effectiveness of tone, style, and use of language.
      • evaluating the author's purpose and stance
      • making connections between works, self and related topics.
      • responding to public documents (such as but not limited to editorials, reviews, local, state, and national policies/issues including those with a historical context).

  • Common Core State Standards
    • English Language Arts (2010)
      • Speaking & Listening

        • Grade 8
          • 8.SL.2 Analyze the purpose of information presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and evaluate the motives (e.g., social, commercial, political) behind its presentation.

  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Guidance (2010)
      • Progressing

        • P.CR.2 Understand the relationship among career goals and interests, personal interests, aptitudes, and abilities. P.CR.2.1 Maintain a career-planning portfolio. P.CR.2.2 Use research and information resources to obtain career information.