Marketing to Teens: Alternate Ads Lesson Plan

Level(s): Grades 8 - 12

Author: Charity Laboucan and Tracy Duncan, Planned Parenthood Edmonton, and Sonya Thompson, Film Classification Services, Alberta Community Development.

Length: 40 minutes

This lesson is part of USE, UNDERSTAND & ENGAGE: A Digital Media Literacy Framework for Canadian Schools.


In this lesson students look at less obvious methods used by advertisers to reach consumers. Students first learn about “soft sell” ads that don’t make specific claims about a product. They then consider reasons why companies choose to use them over hard sell techniques. They will then focus specifically on why various companies might choose to use soft sell techniques as subtle forms of advertising in groups.

Learning Outcomes

Big ideas:

  • The purpose of advertising is to try to get you to like or buy something
  • Advertising uses different techniques and appeals for different products
  • Advertisers use different media, approaches and techniques to reach different audiences

Learning goals:

Students will learn:

  • That not all ads make a claim about the product
  • That some ad formats, such as product placement or endorsements, may not be obvious as ads
  • That “soft sell” ads use different techniques than “hard sell” ads
  • That “soft sell” ads are used for different products or to appeal to different audiences than “hard sell” ads

Students will be able to:

  • Find examples of “soft sell” ads and identify examples of specific ad techniques
  • Analyze the effectiveness of ads and speculate on their creators’ choices
  • Communicate their findings to the class

This lesson and all associated documents (handouts, overheads, backgrounders) is available in an easy-print, pdf kit version.

Lesson Kit