Chapter 6: 21st-century media and issues

6.3.3 Understanding advertising literacy (prospectus)


English 102, October 2020

The topic that I am going to stick with for my final paper is advertising literacy. In today’s society people are exposed to advertisements in their everyday lives. It plays a large role in the economy and impacts people’s opinions and viewpoints. In my essay I plan to focus on how advertisements communicate with the public and how the persuasive techniques that are used in commercials affect human’s judgment. Society is constantly being exposed to certain advertisements that can take advantage of them if they aren’t informed of how to analyze these advertisements and have the literacy to be able to understand what they are trying to communicate. Being able to have advertising literacy gives the consumer an advantage of being able to understand what the advertiser’s intentions are and what they are trying to get them to do. Along with this it allows people to think about the commercial critically and have a better understanding of advertising literacy so that they can make decisions for themselves and not be taken advantage of by advertisers.

The question that I wanted to research about advertising literacy is how do advertisers use persuasive techniques within advertisements to communicate with the public? My main thesis statement would be that without advertising literacy people may be taken advantage of by advertisers because of their inability to recognize how commercials use persuasive techniques to try and get consumers to buy certain things. This is relevant to everyone in today’s world because people are constantly being forced to buy something whether they are being persuaded directly or not. Because advertising plays a large role in a lot of people’s lives it is important for people to understand advertising literacy. This is what I want to emphasize in my essay and write about how important it is by using research about the topic that I find.

This topic is not only relevant to the average everyday person’s life, but it also applies to big businesses and owners. They too must have and understanding of advertising literacy so that they know how to connect with the people that they are trying to sell their product to. Along with this, with advertising literacy they will be able to use the advertising techniques that are necessary within their advertisements. Throughout my essay I plan to expand more on this and show the relationship businesses have with the rest of society. Another academic field that cares about the topic of advertising literacy is the education community. The reason is because commercials have been shown in studies to impact children’s critical thinking processes and how the perceive certain things by generating opinions based on what they see. This can greatly impact their education because they are being exposed to real world things that everyone else deals with every day. Because children’s minds are much more innocent, they don’t have a full understanding of how-to analysis and think on their own. Therefore, a lot of times younger children can be taken advantage of by these commercials. Along with this there is some research that I plan to discuss in my essay that says children should be taught advertising literacy because it will help their critical thinking skills.

There is a lot of research out there that I want to read about and look up more before I write my essay so that I can use it to support my thesis and have the best knowledge I can have on the topic of advertising literacy. This way I can express why it is so important to understand. Media literacy is in everyday activities even if someone doesn’t realize it. This goes to show how important it is for people to have the knowledge and understanding of what businesses are trying to persuade people to do with these advertisements. Going from this, commercials play a huge role in today’s world and people need to be able to have media literacy to understand what they are trying to present to the public. Speaking from personal experience, I see some sort of advertisement that is trying to persuade me to buy something almost every single day. I think almost everyone else can also agree that they see advertisements around them as well on a daily basis. Whether it is a sponsored ad on some sort of social media, such as Instagram, or it is a billboard that you see driving on the highway, businesses are constantly trying to persuade people to buy their products.

Because of the vast ever-changing world, businesses in the economy are constantly trying to make a profit and connect with the public by using commercials. There have been multiple studies that have been researched on how people are affected by commercials. This is why it is so crucial for people to be taught advertising literacy. Especially within children because they are more easily taken advantage of because of their innocence and lack of being able to think critically on their own. They lack the knowledge to think for themselves and form their own opinions because of constant outside sources trying to get them to think a certain way. A media literate person is able to recognize the purpose of the commercial that is being shown and the message that is addressed. They are also able to tell what specific group the ad is trying to target and how the values in the advertisement are able to influence the viewer. Recognizing that children see many commercials on television in a day is important when understanding how they are also influenced by these advertisements that they see on a daily basis. Because advertisements are played so often children are shown to be able to recognize brand names and logos. This is what advertisers want to happen.

Commercials are played repeatedly so that later on they are remembered by people in their adult lives and easily remembered. Commercials are constructed very carefully for this reason. Media literacy is crucial for understanding the point of what advertisements are trying to get across to viewers and how they target certain audiences to try and persuade them. Without media literacy it is easy for the viewers to be easily taken advantage of and influenced by the advertisers. Along with this, media literacy and knowledge about commercials and what they are trying to do for the viewers is important for children to have an understanding of. In my research essay I plan to expand more on these ideas and support them with more details from studies that I researched.

How I plan on organizing my essay is by using the problem solution method. I was also thinking about using the general to specific organizational method. Along with this I have had trouble in the past with starting off my essay, so I plan on writing my introduction last and just starting off with my body paragraphs. This way I can just dive into my research essay and expand on more of the ideas that I planned to talk about in the paragraphs above.

Overall, I plan to incorporate all these ideas in my final paper and support them with factual evidence from studies that I have read about. Because this topic is so relevant to pretty much everyone’s lives, I believe it is important for people to know about advertising literacy and how advertisers use persuasive techniques within advertisements to communicate to the public.



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Annotated Bibliography

An, Soontae, et al. “Children’s Advertising Literacy for Advergames: Perception of the Game as Advertising.” Journal of Advertising, vol. 43, no. 1, 2014, pp. 63–72., doi:10.1080/00913367.2013.795123.

In the article the study that was conducted measured weather children were able to recognize advergames as a type of advertisement. They found that the children that were involved in the advertising literacy program were able to have a better understanding on the concept rather than those who had no knowledge on advertising literacy. Along with this, meditation tests showed that those with skeptical views on the advergames showed more critical thinking and an understanding of advertising literacy.


Buttriss, Judy, et al. “Promotion of Foods to Children – to Ban or Not to Ban?” Nutrition Bulletin, vol. 28, no. 1, 2003, pp. 43–46., doi:10.1046/j.1467-3010.2003.00293.x.

Discusses the promotion of food presented to children and how it is characterized by many different types of viewpoints and opinions. One side believes that advertising to children should be banned or regulated because of its encouragement towards poor eating habits. Whereas on the other hand there are those that believe that companies can self-regulate their advertisements. Throughout the article the author explains both sides and relates it to children’s advertising literacy. Therefore, showing how it relates to how people are impacted by companies’ advertisements.


Dam, Sophia Van, and Eva Van Reijmersdal. “Insights in Adolescents’ Advertising Literacy, Perceptions and Responses Regarding Sponsored Influencer Videos and Disclosures.” Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace, vol. 13, no. 2, 2019, doi:10.5817/cp2019-2.

Throughout the article the authors discuss how video influencers have a huge impact on today’s youth, especially when it comes to them sponsoring a brand. It also talks about how younger teens don’t have the understanding or the advertising literacy to recognize that advertisers are trying to get them to by a product from them indirectly, by using people they look up to and admire. Because adolescents lack the maturity and ability to recognize these persuasive techniques used by advertisers, their ability to perceive certain morals is compromised. In their studies that they researched they found that it was most common for teens to follow the social media influencers that they admire and not have a critical perspective for themselves.


Hoek, Rhianne W., et al. “Development and Testing of the Advertising Literacy Activation Task: An Indirect Measurement Instrument for Children Aged 7-13 Years Old, Media Psychology.” Media Psychology, doi:10.1080/15213269.2020.1817090.

In this article Hoek talks about how testing of children’s advertising literacy activation has been shown to help them think critically for themselves. The participants in the study had to categorize different concepts that they were given into either “news” or an “advertisement”. While doing this their advertising literacy was examined and their attitudes and skills were analyzed. While studying this, researchers were able to see how children can critically think and how they were able to process the messages they were given.


Jans, Steffi De, et al. “Serious Games Going beyond the Call of Duty: Impact of an Advertising Literacy Mini-Game Platform on Adolescents’ Motivational Outcomes through User Experiences and Learning Outcomes.” Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace, vol. 13, no. 2, 2019, doi:10.5817/cp2019-2-3.

Throughout this article the author talks about a study that was conducted to show the effectiveness of advertising literacy interventions among children aged ten to sixteen. Because children’s advertising literacy isn’t yet developed, they found that in the study interventions to teach them advertising literacy impacted their critical thinking processes. Along with this it goes on to talk about how advertising literacy is a “mini-game” platform which allows for increased enjoyment and motivation to learn new material.


King, Rachel P. “Popular Sources, Advertising, and Information Literacy: What Librarians Need to Know.” The Reference Librarian, vol. 57, no. 1, 2016, pp. 1–12., doi:10.1080/02763877.2015.1077772.

In this article the author talks about “native advertising” and how it is a pretty new form of advertising that has sponsors fund articles and periodicals that then causes them to have control over the editorial process. It goes on to talk about how in the past this used to be unethical to allow advertisers to dictate the content of journalism. Overall, the essay talks about how important it is to understand how advertising impacts editorials that people use. Along with this it emphasizes how important it is for them to have a better understanding of advertising literacy so that they are able to inform others on it as well.


Lapierre, Matthew A. “Advertising Literacy and Executive Function: Testing Their Influence on Children’s Consumer Behavior.” Media Psychology, vol. 22, no. 1, 2017, pp. 39–59., doi:10.1080/15213269.2017.1345638.

The study discussed in the article is done in order to show how children’s consumer behavior is impacted by advertisements. They found that it is directly associated with consumer behavior. Along with this their advertising literacy was shown to have a negative relationship with the parents’ purchase requests. Overall, the article demonstrates and shows the results that children’s advertising literacy and critical thinking skills showed how their cognitive development affected their consumer behavior.


Love, Christa. Teaching Media Literacy Skills about Commercials: a Comparative Analysis of Media Literacy Instruction. Library and Archives Canada = Bibliothèque Et Archives Canada, 2009.

In this specific research study, that is discussed in the article “Teaching Media Literacy Skills About Commercials: A Comparative Analysis of Media Literacy Instruction,”, written by Christina Love, eighth grade kids’ attitudes, behaviors, and knowledge about commercials were studied. Those who were taught media-related terms and did the activities that helped them be aware of certain things within media literacy were in the end able to recognize when commercials use selling techniques, target their specific audience, and use social values along with stereotypes. Later on, the article goes on to discuss how the findings within the research showed obstacles faced by the participants when learning media literacy.


O’donohoe, Stephanie, and Caroline Tynan. “Beyond Sophistication: Dimensions of Advertising Literacy.” International Journal of Advertising, vol. 17, no. 4, 1998, pp. 467–482., doi:10.1080/02650487.1998.11104733.

Throughout the article the authors talk about what advertising literacy specifically is and how an understanding of it impacts peoples’ critical thinking processes. It also talks about how a lot of advertisers use jargon within their commercials that consumers might not necessarily have an understanding of advertising literacy. Along with this, the idea that consumers are socially and culturally are put into specific groups based off of their understanding is discussed. Overall, it describes the meaning of advertising literacy and how it can be interpreted.


Pauw, Pieter De, et al. “Taking Children’s Advertising Literacy to a Higher Level: A Multilevel Analysis Exploring the Influence of Parents, Peers, and Teachers.” Communication Research, vol. 46, no. 8, 2018, pp. 1197–1221., doi:10.1177/0093650218797876.

The article first starts out by saying that there are few studies that actually analyze how a child’s environment affects how they cope with advertising. It continues on to talk about a study done in order to show how children’s teachers, classmates, and parents influence their advertising literacy due to their characteristics. Three surveys were conducted in the study and they found that children’s attitudes towards advertising literacy is determined by “class-level” processes. However, their morality towards advertising literacy seemed to be somewhat individualized.


Rozendaal, Esther, et al. “Reconsidering Advertising Literacy as a Defense Against Advertising Effects.” Media Psychology, vol. 14, no. 4, 2011, pp. 333–354., doi:10.1080/15213269.2011.620540.

Throughout this article the author argues the opposite of what I am building on in my essay. He argues that even though it is widely assumed that advertising literacy makes children less vulnerable to advertising techniques and effects. He goes on to explain how advertising literacy and why it doesn’t protect children from advertisements. He goes on to explain to children’s insights and how their advertising processes work and function. Overall, I can use this article to show the opposite view point and then follow it up with evidence to prove it is wrong.


Zamel, Vivian. Negotiating Academic Literacies: Teaching and Learning across Languages and Cultures. Routledge, 2017.

In Gee’s “What is Literacy” the ideas discussed are discourses, identity kits, and secondary discourses. Discourse is described as a group that acts and thinks in a similar way and is associated with each other in society. Along with these identity kits is the idea that someone within a discourse is expected to act, dress, or think a certain way because of how that discourse is thought of in society. Finally, secondary discourses is explained and emphasized on how it is a smaller part of the idea of a discourse.

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