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Cycle #3 Writing Assignment:  Revealing the Truth Behind Popular Ads

(GWRIT 103-Martin)

Absolute DeathThe balance of power in a system of economic exchange is a delicate one.  It is also one that some of the authors represented in this final cycle would say is based on dishonesty and manipulation.  We tend to believe, we like to believe, the consumer holds the power in marketplace—she is the one who possess money and who, ultimately, chooses how to spend it.  Yet the readings in this cycle question the validity of such an assumption.  As the editors of our text explain, “companies have turned from traditional advertising that emphasizes a product and its brand to a new ‘softer’ style of marketing which appeals to youth markets through street marketing, influence peddling, and product giveaways” (312).  In other words, we are exposed to product advertising without ever noticing it.  What’s more, the ads we do recognize often market a lifestyle instead of a mere product, a practice that seduces consumers into purchasing products out of desire for the lifestyle (which is often unattainable). 

For this final paper, your job is to expose the truths behind a particular advertisement, marketing campaign, product, or company.  You will do this by creating an anti-advertisement similar to those we’ll take a look at in Ad Busters magazine.  Your ad can be a print ad, say for a magazine or billboard, or it can be a commercial with video footage that would run on tv.  You could even create a short movie clip in which you place a product and offer a critique of said placement (similar to product advertising in movies where the stars are drinking, say, a Pepsi).   Your ad can be entirely original or you can revise/manipulate an existing ad.

For step by step assistance in creating your ad, visit the following page on the adbusters website:

For information about checking out camera and video equipment, visit JMU’s media resources webpage:

Once your ad is complete, you will need to write a 1000 word analysis of the ad.  You should probably begin by describing the problems you see in the original ad, product, or marketing practice.  You will likely need to include research in your paper to support and justify your critique.  Then you should explain how your ad responds to this critique and reveals the truth that is “unseen” by the consumer.  Be sure to go beyond simply description and summary of your ad to show how it complicates consumer thinking about the product or practice. 


  • Your analysis should be a minimum of 1000 words.
  • You will need to include outside research in your analysis—I’ll leave it up to you to decide how many sources to use.  Most students use outside research to demonstrate how and why the subject of their
  • Cite your research appropriately!


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