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6 — Connections between advertising and lifestyles

In the previous sequence, the students explored the idea of a fad product and how some fads become part of the popular culture of a given time (such as the iconic hula hoop or Rubik’s cubes). In this sequence, the students will further explore the ways that advertisers draw on human behaviour and how products and services are connected to our lifestyles. They will view Episode 2 from the documentary series Secrets of the Superbrands: Fashion (57 mins) and will explore the idea of the concept store and how a concept store connects an audience to a product.

This sequence draws on the General Capabilities of Literacy, and Critical and Creative Thinking.

Share the following quote from famous fashion designer Coco Chanel, and open up a discussion as to whether the students agree with Chanel:

Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street;
fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening. Coco Chanel

Activity 1: The secrets of the superbrands – fashion

Refresh the students’ memory of the documentary series Secrets of the Superbrands. In the episode on food superbrands, we saw how Coca Cola has built up brand loyalty over the years as a superbrand with staying power and the ability to influence popular culture. Today Coca Cola is marketed as being ‘a part of our lives’, like a friend who has always been there.

Share with the students a similar common household brand that has been built up as being part of Australian family life over many years: Kellogg’s. Share a Kellogg’s Cornflakes advertisement (c1943) that further illustrates the connection between an advertised product and a lifestyle. This particular advertisement could open many avenues for discussion around the lifestyle being promoted and around gender roles.

Note: If time permits, a comparison can be made with more contemporary cereal ads and how they might appeal to an overwhelmed busy mother. What has changed? What has stayed the same? Who is responsible for feeding the family at breakfast time? How important is nutrition? What about convenience?

Show students Episode 2 of the series Secrets of the Superbrands, which focuses on fashion. The full documentary is 57 minutes in length. If you have time, a full viewing is recommended, otherwise more specifically, the opening sequence with the Nike shirt example and then from 35:31 onwards focuses on sports brands and how brands such as Nike and Adidas promote a lifestyle as well as a product. When coupled with celebrity endorsement (remind the students of the Nike ad featuring sports celebrities that they viewed in Sequence 3), this type of advertising can be very persuasive.

In the opening sequence of Secrets of the Superbrands: Episode 2 – Fashion, Alex Riley presents a group of very young children with cardboard cut-outs of four people wearing shirts with four different symbols on them, one of which is the famous Nike tick. Ask the students:

Now watch the rest of the episode, then ask the students to think about how certain items have become such icons of pop culture.

In the vox pops presented throughout the series, Alex Riley asks people to describe brands as if they were personalities: ‘If X brand was a person, they’d be ...’ Ask the students to make an entry in their journals addressing the question: Have you ever thought about the brands and clothing you wear as having a personality?

The growth of the concept store

When it comes to a clever advertising and marketing strategy, the association of a personality or lifestyle with a product has grown through the idea of the concept store where the variety of products on offer is united with the store’s theme or personality. In the late 1990s some European retail traders developed the idea of tailoring a shop towards a lifestyle theme, in the form of concept stores. In these stores, the customer can not only buy physical products but is also given an emotional and sensory experience (think of the Starbucks coffee experience and culture that was explored in Secrets of the Superbrands: Episode 3 – Food). The assumption is that after all the viewing, touching and feeling, customers will be willing to spend more money. The experience will be associated with the store’s identity and the customer will want to come back in the future.

Examples of concept clothing stores include the Australian Billabong chain, which promotes surf, skate and snow adventure lifestyles, and the US retail giant Urban Outfitters, which promotes an urban streetwear lifestyle. Ask the students if they can think of other companies or brands that have concept stores.

Activity 2: Concept stores in focus – Smiggle and Happy Lab

This activity focuses on how these brands have been created to attract the buying power of the teen market and what the reaction is of those who enter a store. Using blog entries as text samples, the students will use comprehension skills to interpret and synthesise ideas and information. ACELY1723

Smiggle and Happy Lab are two concept stores that have opened in Australia, targeting an audience from pre-teens to young adults. Ask the students if they have visited a Smiggle or Happy Lab store. If so, when and how were they introduced to the store?

Provide links to the Smiggle website and online store and the official Smiggle blog to further illustrate the idea of a concept store. In the blog entry titled ‘Interview with Smiggle’, a Smiggle enthusiast interviews the general manager of a Smiggle concept store. Open this page on the interactive whiteboard or ask the students to read it on several class computers and then ask the following discussion questions: 

Like Smiggle, Happy Lab aims to give its customers a sensory experience. Happy Lab markets confectionary and customers can ‘try before they buy’ by taste testing sample products. Sales personnel wear lab coats and confectionary is sold in test tubes, beakers and conical flasks (all mimicking the equipment found in a science lab).

Share a blogger’s first encounter with a Happy Lab store in a blog entry entitled ‘Happy Lab’. After the students have read the blog entry, ask the following discussions questions:

Ongoing tasks

The students will continue to work on their fad campaigns. It is envisaged that they will be presenting these campaigns over the next few sequences. They can also update their Digital advertising glossary worksheets and write journal entries based on ideas covered in this sequence.