Activities & Projects

Advertising Shoes

Recommended by Cirriculum Services Canada

Level: Grade 7–9

Preparation: collection of shoe advertisements

Duration: 120 minutes

Materials: None

  • explain how individual elements of an advertisement combine to create, reinforce and/or enhance meaning
  • identify the conventions and techniques used in an advertisement and explain how they will use them to communicate their message
  • create media works for different purposes and explain how the design decisions for each were shaped for the purpose
  • students will design a shoe advertisement appropriate for selling a pair of historic footwear to the audience of their choice.

Begin: Have a guided discussion with your students about shoes and advertising. When you look for a new pair of shoes, what do you look for? What are the 'needs', and what are the 'wants'? Have you ever bought shoes because you liked the advertisement or the TV commercial? Have you ever bought a certain brand or type of shoes because you knew a famous person had the same or similar shoes? Do you own shoes with a logo on them?

Ask students how many different shoe brands they can think of. On the white or black board write a list of all the brands. Continue by asking how many of the students have seen or heard of these brands through advertising. Who do they think are the target customers for these shoe brands (hikers, party goers; adults, children, teenagers...?)

Learn: Ask students to collect examples of shoe advertisements from print media. Advertisements for shoes can be found in magazines, flyers, and newspapers. Project your examples and post the students' on the wall. Take a survey: which of these ads do the students think is most effective, creative, attention–grabbing, deceiving? Ask the students how they think some of these advertisements work to achieve their goal, i.e. selling shoes. What strategies or persuasive techniques have been used? What language is being used: simple or complex? What do they think to be positive aspects of advertising; what negative aspects? Who do they think are the target customers for the shoes in the advertisements?

Below are some of the strategies that advertisers use. If your class has previous knowledge on the subject of advertising, try to elicit as many of these as you can. Alternatively, prepare a handout that lists these strategies and ask students where they can see some or all of these strategies being employed in the examples in their classroom.

  • celebrity endorsements
  • premiums (free gifts)
  • technology/novelty
  • emotional
  • selling lifestyle: great family life, sports, fitness, being cool, freedom, the great outdoors, luxury, travel, sex
  • weasel words (feel the..., we care...)
  • peer pressure/join the crowd
  • putting down competitors
  • facts & figures
  • repetition
  • omission (the ad will tell you this shoe is great for playing basketball, but will not say that it's useless in snow)
  • stereotypes (gender, race, class, personality)

Apply: Ask students to design and write a print ad for a shoe in the Chronicles of Riches web exhibition, using some of the persuasive techniques discovered in the lesson. Students are to choose one pair or individual shoe from the exhibition, and develop an ad for the audience of their choice (royalty, fashion plates, Inuit hunters, romantic couples, party goers, etc.). Almost all the historic footwear in the exhibition is unique and individually made. Students are to imagine that their client has decided to mass–manufacture their chosen shoe, and that as advertisers it is their challenge to sell as many shoes to as many people as possible. Advise students to pay attention to language, design, and choice of image(s).

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