||Feb 13, 2006 by Business Editorial Board
|| This lesson plan comes from the Canadian Media Awareness Network. It is designed
for students with the goal of having them think about pornography and free
speech and, in the process, finding ways to distinguish between pornographic
material and artistic or aesthetic material. The use of sexual images in
advertising provides the context for the discussions. The module also contains
several supportive materials, (i.e. laws, regulations and definitions), as well
as two activities the instructor can utilize in executing this discussion.
|| According to the exercise, there are three goals. "Students will demonstrate:
an understanding of what constitutes pornography,
knowledge of the guidelines that have been established to regulate pornography
in the advertising industry, and
an appreciation of the difficulties in enforcing these guidelines"
|Target Student Population:
|| The module is specifically geared for high school juniors and seniors. However,
due to the charged nature of the topic, it is perhaps better utilized in a
college classroom and is especially appropriate for introductory marketing and
all levels of advertising courses. It would be very useful during discussions
of controversies and/or ethics in advertising.
|Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
|| None required of the teacher or students -- though some sophistication on the
part of students probably is required in terms of maturity and cognitive
abilities. The module needs minimal preparation to execute as written. The
supportive material is,
however, very focused on the laws and regulations as
they exist in Canada. An instructor from another country may wish to prepare
background information from his/her own country before utilizing the module.
The instructor may also wish to have a defined set of questions to direct the
student conversation if used as an in-class exercise.
|Type of Material:
|| The exercises in this module include both in- and out-of-class activities.
|| The module provides two main activities (one of which involves a case study).
Both activities are conducive to in-class or homework, individual or team usage.
|| This is a high quality lesson plan that provides all the materials one would
need (and points the instructor to additional readings to supplement the
material in the lesson plan). Sufficient visual material is provided so that an
instructor need not seek out additional examples on his/her own. It has several
activities that are adaptable to classes of all sizes, and has an interesting
case and case assignment on Calvin Klein that is factual. Due to the nature of
the topic, students will likely be intrigued and will have had heard about this
issue beforehand. They should be very motivated to participate in the
|| The advertising examples are primarily older Calvin Klein ads; an instructor
might wish to update them with more recent examples. On the other hand, using
older ads may have the advantage of not being something students are familiar
with and thus could discuss more objectively.
The legal and regulatory material provided is Canadian. A teacher from another
country probably would want to seek out materials relevant to the country in
which the school was located. (U.S. instructors might include the 1996
Telecommunications Act -- sometimes referred to as the Communications Decency
Finally, the module is limited in that it couldnt be used without support. The
instructor would need to place this in the context of ethics in advertising or
else it would seem out of place. It focuses heavily on pornography, but the
instructor should also address other controversial topics, such as marketing
makes us more materialistic, marketing creates needs, marketing uses
etc., in order to provide a complete picture to students.
Lastly, the module doesnt provide any supportive data, such as how often
sexual appeals are used or why such appeals are considered to be a strong tactic
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
|| The topic is one that should be of great interest to students. It provides very
well-written, interactive exercises for students and a good illustration of
this topic. It fosters conversation on a relevant topic in advertising.
The lesson itself could be used not only in advertising classes or media
classes, but also for classes wishing to include a module on critical thinking.
Pornography often engenders knee-jerk reactions, and so requiring students to
think about their own responses and those of society and reasons for those
responses would make for some interesting and useful discussions/assignments.
There are a number of other ways in which this lesson plan could be adapted for
other foci. Just a few are mentioned here.
1. The unit could be modified to address cross-cultural norms and laws
regarding pornography (and regarding simply the use of children in advertising,
a topic that differs across countries).
2. Bringing an art faculty member to class to address the issue of aesthetic
expression might bring additional dimensions to the discussion.
3. Children in advertising could be another focal topic.
4. Does advertising reflect society's values or "condition" society's values?
(The classic exchange in JCR between Pollay and Holbrook would be good companion
readings here for college students.)
5. The exercise could be used in an ethics course.
|| Students should walk away from this module with the learning objectives
achieved. As stated above,
however, the module lacks in its expanded
information. The topic is very isolated to one issue in advertising, and
provides little outside supportive material. It needs to be made more relevant
in order for students to see the bigger picture. Of particular concern is the
definition of pornography that is used in the lesson plan. The definition ("The
explicit depiction or exhibition of sexual activity in literature, films or
photography that is intended to stimulate erotic, rather than aesthetic or
emotional feelings.") commits the "intentional fallacy." That is, it tries to
judge the advertising based on the assumed intentions of the creators --
something we cannot know.
An instructor's own lack of comfort with the topic might also be an issue of
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
|| This material is well organized and presented, making it easy to use. The "ease"
of the discussions that might result, however, is another matter. Nonetheless,
this is a useful way to address topics not only of just "decency" in
advertising, but also issues of the responsiblity of corporations to the
societies in which they operate.
|| Students could perhaps have the mistaken impression that pornography is the only
controversial topic in advertising.
|Other Issues and Comments: