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Advertising and Society Assignment (Chapter 3) September 19, 2008

Posted by Alicia Revely in Uncategorized.

We know advertisements are geared toward specific demographics (age/race/gender/income/nationality/culture) but what happens when “outside” groups see these ads? I’ll give you examples of ads that have been considered problematic by people outside their intended audiences.

Choose one ad and analyze why you think people might find it offensive, disrespectful, or inappropriate. Could it be changed to be more sensitive? Does the outrage or worry about the ad’s message make sense to you? What less controversial approach could the company have taken to promote its product? Should the company have been able to foresee the impact the ad would have?

Also think of one commercial or ad campaign in your lifetime that you know caused backlash or that you thought was problematic. Describe what you remember of the ad and the criticisms of it. Was it appropriate for your social context or do you agree with its critics?

This Italian detergent commercial raised concerns about racial stereotyping.

So did this set of promotional photos by Spain’s Olympic basketball team.

When we look at advertisements from the past, we can often see problems that may or may not have been evident at that time. If you’d like to address this issue, you can look at either Marlboro ads targeting mothers in the ’50s or this Folgers ad from about the same time.



1. Constance - September 19, 2008

Hi Dr. Revely,

I’m the founder and co-editor of Sociological Images. Would you mind if we put a copy of your assignment up on our Sample Assignments page?


Please reply here or email us at socimages@contexts.org

Thanks! We’re always so pleased when the website is found to be useful and we hope your students enjoy it!

Dr. Wade
Occidental College

2. Alicia Revely - September 22, 2008

I’m happy to share the assignment with anyone who might find it useful! I’m looking forward to hearing what my students have to say about the Marlboro ads. This is an assignment for an entry-level advertising class at a two-year school.

Your blog has given me plenty of ideas for other projects. Thanks for the work you’re doing.

3. Sociological Images » SAMPLE ASSIGNMENTS - September 29, 2008

[…] ADVERTISING AND SOCIETY (An assignment for a lower-division course by Alicia Revely.  Reproduced by permission from here.) […]

4. Lisa - September 29, 2008

Thank you so much! I added your assignment to our collection here:


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