Examine your ad  to determine who its target audience is

Read this essay assignment thoroughly, more than once, before you begin.

This essay asks you to carefully consider a full-color magazine ad in order to determine how it successfully reaches its target audience. To reach that goal, you’ll need to discuss whom the ad is targeting; what the advertiser is promising–literally and implicitly; what assumptions the advertiser is making; and what, if any, logical fallacies are present in the ad. Relating concepts from Schudson’s article to your ad is also a good idea.  Ultimately, your thesis will address how your ad successfully reaches its target audience.

Getting Started

Examine your ad  to determine who its target audience is. You may ask whether this ad is designed for men, women, both sexes, children, old people, people of all ages, young adults, one particular race, all races, those in the middle class, those who aspire to be “upper” class but are not, those who buy only on credit, people of a particular sexual or political orientation, and so on.

Next,  examine your ad to determine how it successfully reaches its target audience.  Analyze the colors (or lack of color), the people, the objects, the clothes (or lack of clothing), the focus (is it blurred or are the shapes sharply defined?), the shape and size of the headlines and other copy in the ad, or anything else in the ad that helps sell the product. Ask yourself over and over: “Why is this item in the ad?” “Why is the ad designed in this manner?” “How does the item or design help sell the product to the target group?”

(Remember: Everything in an ad is there to attract a buyer; nothing is placed at random.)

Writing a Rough Draft

Begin where you’re most comfortable.  If you choose to begin at the introduction, you may first want to ease your reader into your essay with a line or two leading up to your advertising topic. Perhaps a relevant point or two from Schudson’s article could serve as an interesting tie-in to the ad you’ve chosen and lead up to your thesis (suggesting how the ad successfully reaches its target audience). As you begin discussing your ad, you could give your reader a picture of it by literally describing what’s going on in the ad page. You might then logically discuss the various elements in the ad to determine whom the ad is targeting and how each element–literally and implicitly–successfully reaches/sells the target audience. You should be able to support your reasoning with specific details and logical inferences drawn from the ad. You could also offer additional interest and support for your thesis by showing the relevance of Schudson’s ideas to your ad–ideas such as “belief in the smaller sense” and “belief in the larger sense.”

Just Remember:  You’re trying to explain why the advertisement works to reach an audience, not why (or how) a product is good. Explain how the ad sells the product; don’t sell the reader the product.

Writing the Final Essay

Does your essay respond fully to the assignment? Does your introduction ease the reader into your topic, narrow the topic, and offer a thesis? Are your ideas organized logically? Do your body paragraphs each have topic sentences? Are your topic sentences developed using specific details and examples? Have you made smooth transitions between ideas and paragraphs? Have you proofread/corrected your essay?

NOTE: You must submit a copy of the original magazine ad or printed internet ad online with your essay to receive full credit for this assignment. You can use a scanner or your phone to take a clear picture of the whole ad and submit that picture. Make sure it’s clear and complete.