What Do We Sell and Buy?
Related human rights
If you pick thematic examples, the method is particularly suitable for using together with the methods for improving the knowledge on gender construction and gender roles.
To prepare photos for discussion
The peer educator begins by asking the peers what could be the single word to define the purpose of advertising. Many of the options listed (to inform, to entertain, etc.) will be close to reality. However, you should emphasize that the main point of advertising is TO SELL a product or service.
In order to sell goods or products in the age of excess information, you have to create a need. That is why what an advertisement tries to sell could be very far from what people actually buy.
What advertisements sell are specific services or products.
What people buy is sensations, fantasies, wishes, aims and dreams, a certain vision of life that they want for themselves or someone else.
Advertisements usually express a vision or a feeling using visual means, rather than words or slogans. The first step is to be able to verbalise visuals, i.e. to turn images into words. Doing so can make it very easy to notice, how advertising contributes to the creation of stereotypes, their processing and support.
The screen shows a sequence of advertisements and the peer educator indicates what is bought and what is sold together with the peers. It is necessary to demand for accuracy – however improper the verbalisation may sound – because namely that is the purpose of the visuals, which are subtler than words and a strict narrative.
During the discussion, encourage the peers to notice the construction of attitudes and stereotypes.
A question, suitable for discussion: what should we do to eliminate such phenomena from the public space? The answer should be directed towards the necessity of forming social criticism in order to criticise established phenomena that many perceive as natural.
Further suggestions, additional material
Then give 45 min. for group work – find examples of advertisements on the internet and clearly identify, what is bought and what is sold, introduce a wider concept of the social impact that advertising has, and prepare a short speech to criticise it (1-2 min.).
Other ways of using the material by peer educators
You can choose not only static advertisements, but also videos.