commercials (optional), TV/VCR (optional), magazines, newspapers
Students have already begun to see
how persuasive techniques are used to target them as
consumers. Now we will broaden the scope a bit, and
take a look at the many ways in which writers and advertisers
focus their persuasion tactics on specific target groups
in society. Students will explore and try to describe
the various persuasive tools used in advertisements,
and identify who they are hoping to persuade. In order
to explore the concept of target audience, the teacher
will draw on examples from television commercials,
magazine ads, newspaper columns, etc.
Students are now in the explore phase, finding out
more about the various appeals that are used to entice
and persuade specific groups of people.
Students will be able to:
Identify the target audience in persuasively written
2. Define target audience in the context of persuasive
National English Education Standard
Students apply knowledge
of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling
and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language,
and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and
The instructor should already be familiar
with the persuasive appeals used in various texts and
advertising, and should be able to identify the target
audience in a given text, or the group of people the
writers wish to persuade. For example, an advertisement
aimed at women may contain images, issues, and language
which are directed at appealing to a woman’s preferences
or priorities; these may include beauty, fashion, family,
career, or health-related issues.
1. Before students arrive, lay out a variety of magazines
and newspapers for students to look at. If you have decided
to use television commercials or other persuasive texts
in this lesson, have them available as well. Select from
one of your resources an advertisement aimed at women.
2. When students are settled, present the ad or commercial
you have chosen. Ask students to analyze the ad by
considering the following questions:
a) What is the first thing you notice about this
ad? (Ask students for their observations)
b) What is the end goal of this advertisement?
Is the goal to sell a product? What
is the writer trying to
c) If there is any text in the ad,
what does it say? What do you notice
about the language that they use?
d) If the ad is a commercial, what
do you notice about the actors, music,
sounds, and images used?
e) What type of person or group would
be interested in this type of advertising?
Why do you think that?
3. After spending 5-10 minutes analyzing
the ad, focus on the last question.
to determine that the advertising
is aimed at women, but
sometimes they struggle to identify
the exact attributes which direct
it toward that audience.
Ask the students
to think back to the particular
details they observed at the beginning
may want to
have several similar ads directed
at the same target audience
to show similarities among them.
You want students to ultimately understand
that the group of
people the ads
are aimed at is called the “target audience”.
This is who the writers are hoping to persuade. Homework
4. Divide the students into groups
of 3-4 people and allow them to
select a variety of magazines and
Assign each group a particular
target audience, such
as women, men, teens, students,
parents, the elderly, etc. Give
the class about
20 minutes to search for
several ads or articles which are
directed specifically at their
assigned audience. Students will
need to identify what persuasive
writers are using in order to
appeal to their target audience.
To wrap up this lesson, have
each group present their findings
and explain what appeals are
used to target their assigned
audience. If time allows, you
may want to label some of these
persuasive appeals with their
If you wish, ask students to
find and bring in an ad from a magazine or newspaper. Ask them
to identify the target audience and the persuasive appeals
used in the ad.
will be assessed based on their discussion
responses and group presentations. Ensure
that the students understand the concept
of target audience and can identify persuasive
tools used to target specific groups