Initial Assessment Assignment:

Thank you for signing up for a fun class with Write Ahead.  To identify how we can best help strengthen your persuasive writing skills, please complete this short assessment:

  1. Watch this Doritos commercial:

  2. Read excerpts from 2 articles, below, which present ideas of what to consider when exposed to advertising

  3. Set a timer for 20 minutes, write one-two paragraphs explaining how the commercial persuades its viewers and if is effective at influencing buyers. Cite evidence from the text and video to support your explanation. 

  4. Please email the paragraph (or whatever you have completed within the 20 minutes) to

  5. Note 1 – please do not let your parents or anyone else help you.  This will be used to help us identify the specific writing skills we should focus on helping you strengthen during the class. 

  6. Note 2 [for parents] – we are aware that that commercial has been deemed offensive, we will be discussing why and the implicit bias of the commercial during the first class.


Article 1: In a World of Ads, Teaching the Young How to Read Them

Source: Stuart Elliot, New York Times, April 6, 2010


A federal agency is undertaking an effort to school youngsters in the ways of Madison Avenue.


They have created a website called Admongo ( which aims to educate tweens about advertising so they can become more discerning consumers of information. “Advertising is all around you,” the home page declares in urging youngsters to always ask three questions: “Who is responsible for the ad? What is the ad actually saying? What does the ad want me to do?”


The idea that children need to better understand how commercial speech differs from other forms of communication is not a new one.  Brand images strongly influence how tweens choose to spend their money as well as family buying decisions.  Many schools have courses in what is called media literacy, intended to help students analyze various methods of persuasion, among them sponsored messages.


The goal is generally “to help kids start to understand the commercial world they live in. . . think critically, of advertising,” and be more judicious with their buying decisions, said David Vladeck, director of the bureau in Washington.


Article 2: How to Analyze a Television Commercial

Source: Understand Media


Most of us were taught to read when we were very young, but did we ever learn how to watch television?

We're exposed to commercials every day, but we rarely realize their true impact on us. They can influence us to buy things we don't need, to vote a way we might not normally vote, to make adverse decisions and to desire an ostentatious lifestyle that we wouldn't necessarily agree with. 

This is why analyzing television commercials is so important. Below are some things to consider to help us better understand the messages in commercials. Since commercials are more complex than many other types of media (including the addition of motion mixed with sound), there are more things to consider such as:


1. What is the product or service being sold? Can you easily figure out what the product is? 
2. What is the general mood or feeling of the commercial? What methods are the advertisers using to make us interested? How do they portray the product or service in a positive light.

3. How does the soundtrack play a role in your interpretation of the commercial? Is the music cheery, dreary, suspenseful, whimsical, fun, or exciting? Does the music affect our perception of the mood? Is there a voice-over of someone telling us something?
4. How do the actors playing the characters affect your interpretation of the commercial? Would your interpretation change if the characters were of a different race,gender,  dressed differently or spoke differently?
5. How does the commercial try to get your attention? Does it use flashy graphics with fast music? Does it alter the way we see the world, either through the use of special effects or through the story line?
6. Who is this commercial aimed towards? Is it you or someone like you? How do you know? Why do you think the advertiser created this commercial the way they did?

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