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5 — Clever or kitsch? Advertising gimmicks and fads

In this sequence, the students will investigate different fad products from the present and the past, and the different marketing techniques that helped make these products popular. They will be asked to make a personal judgment as to whether they feel items are clever or kitsch. The students will work in small groups to create their very own ‘fad campaigns’ that aim to convince their audience that the product they are marketing is destined to be the next biggest thing!

This sequence draws on the General Capabilities of Literacy, Information and Communication Technology, Critical and Creative Thinking, and Personal and Social Capability.

Activity 1: Fad products

Once in a while someone has a great idea that becomes a fad. Share the idea that a fad can be a product or craze or form of behaviour that is immensely popular for a short time. In advertising terms, this popularity is called the bandwagon effect: people doing certain things because other people are doing them, regardless of their own beliefs, which they may ignore or override. Once a product becomes popular more people tend to get on the bandwagon and buy it too.

Ask the students if they can think of some examples of where they have jumped on a bandwagon? Examples could include signing up for Facebook, wearing a particular brand of clothing or wearing it in a certain way, or copying a popular expression or saying. Explain that throughout history there have always been fads. However, while some fads have gone on to become classics, others have just faded from popular culture. Anyone can have an idea that becomes a fad, and fads sometimes make their creators quite wealthy.

In this activity, students will conduct an internet search for fad products. They will use comprehension strategies to interpret, synthesise and record information from a variety of textual sources.They will complete a Fad products chart worksheet to display their findings. Based on their research, the students can decide whether they believe an idea to be clever or not (clever or kitsch)? ACELY1723

On completion of this activity, students can complete an entry in their Digital advertising glossary worksheet. They might define the techniques of bandwagons and status appeal and any other techniques that emerge from their research.

Activity 2: Autobiographical writing task

Invite the students to share specific forms of popular culture in which they participate before they complete this autobiographical writing task. Ask them to complete an autobiographical writing experience in their journals as a way to connect the learning in this sequence to their lived experience. The students are to write about a time that they really wanted to have a product that their peers had, or a product that was marketed as a must have item.

Activity 3: Fad campaign project

Explain to the students that they will have the opportunity to apply what they have learnt thus far and create their own fad campaign. They will work in small groups to devise a creative pitch for their fad product (a product that they believe will be the next biggest must have item on the market for young teens).

Note: It is expected that students will be given opportunities to brainstorm and think about their ideas before they narrow down to a particular concept. This should all occur before they begin to construct their campaigns.

The project will involve:

Students can use movie making software or software such as Prezi to create their advertisements or they may choose to create a pitch that involves speech and drama techniques. The fad campaigns will form Part A of Assessment task 2. The students should use the Fad campaign rubric for this task. This assessment task will be the first of two productive tasks for student portfolios.

Productive assessment criteria:

Time permitting, the students can be given the opportunity to present their campaign to another group to gain preliminary feedback on their pitches. They can make the necessary changes before presenting their finished campaigns to the whole class. The students will then present their fad campaigns to other members of the class who will provide feedback using the PQP feedback form. Based on the feedback from the PQP feedback form and their assessment according to the rubric, they will complete an individual reflection about their presentation. 

Explain that the PQP routine (see Neubert and McNelis, 1986; details in the Resources) offers the chance to provide Praise to presenters, to record Questions to ask at the end (not to interrupt a presentation in action) and Polish (any suggestions for how the presentation might be improved). The PQP feedback form allows students to focus on the positive feedback that can be provided and to minimise the suggestions for improvement (the polish) to one or two points.

Students will also complete a reflection on how they believe their pitch went and will reflect on the feedback provided by other members of the class. The reflection is to be included in their advertising journals.