Authors as Published

Elena Serrano, Associate Professor, Human Nutrition, Foods and Exercise. (


AgeX  Children 7-10X Children 11-14X  Mixed AgesVirginia Standards of Learning
English 3.1, 3.2, 3.8, 4.1, 4.2, 5.1, 5.2, 6.1,
6.2, 7.1, 7.3, 7.6, 7.8, 8.2, 8.3, 8.6, 8.7
Health 3.1, 3.2, 4.1, 5.1, 5.2, 6.1,
6.2, 6.6, 7.3, 7.4, 7.5, 8.4,  8.5   
Setting   Classroom    CampX     Either
Location   OutsideX Indoors     Either

Project Skill: Understanding advertisements

Success Indicators: As a result of this activity, students will be able to:

  • exhibit different advertising techniques to encourage individuals to purchase different food
  • learn that food is a billion dollar industry
  • explain a motive for advertising

Life Skills: Communication, Teamwork, Critical thinking

Preparation Time: Collect items for boxes or wrappers of different food products and/or drinks, as well as different food advertisements.

  • Supplies:

  • Boxes or wrappers of different food products and drinks
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Sports items
  • Paper for letter to parents (optional)


  1. Begin by discussing one food-related advertisement with the class.
  2. Divide members into small groups.
  3. Assign each group a specific product to advertise. See examples.
  4. Ask each group to create an advertisement by acting and role-playing.
  5. Allow groups to work together 10-15 minutes.
  6. When groups are ready, have each group present their advertisement to the other groups.
  7. Discuss some of the techniques they used to promote their product.
  8. If there is time, ask students to write a short letter to their parents describing what they learned in this exercise and what they’d like their parents to know.
  9. Discuss the questions shown here and encourage them to share their ideas with their families.


  • Assign one student leader to each group.
  • Encourage shy students to use this exercise as an opportunity to express themselves.
  • Tie learning from this exercise back to MyPlate and the Smart Foods lesson.
Fruits and Vegetables–the original fast food

Other Ideas:

  • Ask groups to develop poster advertisements instead of skits. Request that the groups write on a separate piece of paper:
    1. the name of the product they are trying to promote;
    2. the technique they are using to promote it; and
    3. what consumers should consider when they view advertisements and/or promotions, such as how much money is spent on ads for different types of foods. Once the exercise is completed, post the posters and advertisement descriptions in the classroom or in the hallway for other students to view.
Advertisements are designed to persuade you to buy items. Not all advertised foods and drinks are healthy


  • Use examples of products that support topics in the other lesson plans, such as soda, MyPlate (whole grains, fruits, and vegetables), and sports items (such as running or athletic shoes).


  • What did you discover?


  • What different types of techniques were used to try to encourage you to purchase the food?
  • How did your group decide what to act out?
  • Why is it important to learn about advertising?


  • Explain what types of advertisements you see for food.
  • What are the main motives for advertising?
  • Why is television a popular medium for advertising?
  • In what groups of MyPlate do most of the advertised foods belong?
  • Compare advertising techniques between “healthy” and “unhealthy” items, such as fruit and soda.
  • How do advertisements deal with “negative” or “unhealthy” aspects of a product?
  • What other persuasive techniques do you see in commercial advertisements?
  • How will you view commercial advertisements as a result of this activity?


  • If you could tell someone about this activity, who would you tell? Why?
  • What will you do with this information in the future? Will you view advertisements differently?

This publication was partially funded by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).  The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program provides nutrition assistance to people with low incomes. It can help you buy nutritious foods for a better diet. To find out more, contact your local county or city Department of Social Services (phone listed under city/county government).  For help finding a local number, call toll-free: 1-800-552-3431 (M-F 8:15-5:00, except holidays).  By calling your local DSS office, you can get other useful information about services.  
In accordance with Federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religious creed, age, disability, or political beliefs.
To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call, toll free, (800) 795-3272 (voice) or (202) 720-6382 (TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.
This publication was partially funded by the Expanded Food Nutrition Education Program, USDA, CSREES.

Virginia Cooperative Extension materials are available for public use, reprint, or citation without further permission, provided the use includes credit to the author and to Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, and Virginia State University.

Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.

Publication Date

December 13, 2011