Lesson Plan: Ad Agency - Graphic Design

The Ad Agency Adventure

Submitted by: Ken Rohrer, Decatur Middle School
Indianapolis, IN
Lesson Plan: The Ad Agency

Grade Level: 8th-9th grades



This is a cooperative learning project. First, students are assigned positions at each table; Art Director, Creative Director, Copywriter, and Account Executive. (If you need more, you may add a graphic designer, photographer, or illustrator). Positions may be assigned one of several ways; Students may volunteer for positions, you may appoint positions, or students may draw positions out of a hat, etc.


Each table is given a budget and price sheet (Cost of materials and printing. You may also add salaries if you wish. Refer to art jobs for salaries.), and a campaign to create. The teacher is the client. Each table is to come up with a successful campaign using the product that the teacher has been given them. The teacher (client) visits each table and tells them what they think of the campaign and the "agency" makes any necessary changes.



Sample Price Sheet

2 color printing services, cost per thousand: $350
Full color printing services, cost per thousand: $900
Standard matte paper, cost per thousand: $100
Gloss paper, cost per thousand: $80
Photography: $8,000
Illustration/design: $12,000
Billboard display, cost per billboard: $22,000
Television commercial, cost for 30 seconds: $50,000

Other items including salaries may be added at the discretion of the teacher. These prices may be changed by the teacher at their discretion.


If they want to design a brochure, will they have the money to do it in addition to a TV commercial? Is a roadside bulletin board an appropriate avenue to advertise the product? What are some strengths of the product that need to be advertised? What slogan should the product have? These are some of the questions that each group will have to grapple with as a group. The copywriter writes the copy for all the ads, the creative director sketches out basic ideas of the project, the art director draws out in detail each project (you may want more than one students to do this), and the account executive relays to the group what the client (teacher) wants and communicates with the client directly.


Make sure you give them enough "money" to have an item for each member of the cooperative team. For example, one student has a brochure, one has a magazine ad, one has a billboard design, one has a package design, one has a mailer, etc. This is especially important if you are doing the extension listed below. You may use Monopoly. money for each group and collect their money as they spend it.


This project can go on for weeks depending on the budget you give them and how long students are interested. When groups are finished, the account executive presents each table's projects to the "client" (teacher) for approval and discussion. The "client" then chooses which campaigns to use and explains why. This is all done in front of the class. The teacher will need to have all groups stop talking and listen to each account executive as they present their project.


After the "client" chooses the campaign to use, students are allowed to enter into a critical discussion on the merits of this choice. They may also share their feelings about other campaigns in the classroom.



After critical discussion, students in each cooperative group will then begin work on each item in the campaign. Working from sketches and notes, they will create their ads using Adobe Creative products (or other art software that allows paint and vector design). Photoshop may be used to manipulate photos they take with a digital camera, InDesign may be used to create a layout, Illustrator may be used to create graphics, etc. Each item is then printed up and submitted for a grade.


If you have a tight budget and can't afford software, then use Colored Markers. and pencils to create their pieces.


Another alternative from Katrina on the art education list group:

"I also teach 8th grade and have them twice a week for an hour. Last year I had a lot of trouble with classroom management because the kids just weren't interested in what we were doing. This year I decided to focus on careers. I set up a Google form and had them rank art related jobs that they were interested and then planned my lessons on that. We just did a lesson on advertising, the students had to work in pairs to create an advertising campaign for any product appropriate for school. They either created a storyboard of a commercial or a print add campaign. Then I brought in a creative director from a local ad agency and the principal and vice principal and they 3 minutes or less to pitch their idea. The students love it. It made them think outside of the box. They had to come up with a demographic to focus on, a catch phrase to use in their add, and something creative to make people buy their product. It was a lot of fun, now we are currently working on sculpture and are going to a pottery studio in a few weeks. I have found that having the students pick what they want to do in Jr. High is the best way to keep them interested. It's hard because you don't know what you are planning until they take the survey, but after they are interested because they picked what they want to do. You could also list all your projects and have them vote that way. I also then am working to bring in guest speakers to talk about their jobs in the arts. Some of them include Martial Arts, Culinary Arts, and other forms that you may have not thought of including. I hope this helps, it's a lot of work, but the kids really enjoy it."



NOTE: This lesson was submitted in the early days of IAD when teachers had no scanners or digital cameras to take pictures of student work.



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