The Power of Advertising

The Power of Advertising

The Power of Advertising examines whether advertisements positively or negatively impact our society because we are constantly exposed to them in our daily lives. By the end, you will be able to discuss how advertisers use techniques to persuade us to buy products and whether we should view advertisements more critically.

  • Time

    60-80 minutes

  • Main Skills

    Listening and Reading

  • Theme and topic

    Social Organisation: The Power of Advertising

  • Download Available

    Audio Transcript and questions


Advertisers are using several psychological tactics to get us to buy a lot more this holiday season. Watch the video and answer the questions that follow.

Listen to the interview with Gary Philips taking about advertising.

1. Identify the four statements made by Gary Philips during the interview.
Choose the correct answer from A, B, C, or D.

5. According to Gary, how does persuasive advertising work?
6. What techniques does Gary not mention that manufacturers use to persuade us?
Decide if the following statements are true or false. 

7. Making the consumer feel they are on the same side by making it entertaining is an effective advertising technique.
8 Another important technique is to have famous people promote their products with a connection to it. 
9. Using cartoon characters to market a product to children can increase their likelihood of wanting that item. 

Complete the text below with information from the interview. Choose from the following words: advice, implying, being, convincing, instead, since, persuade, rather

Language is used effectively in advertising, as demonstrated below. In a TV commercial, a man washed his hands in engine oil. 10. car engines and hands are made of different materials, he cannot guarantee that the oil will work in both. 11. of providing facts, he attempts to 12. the audience. He says: think how it'll work in your car. Without saying it, he is 13. that oil is good for car engines.


Read the text about advertising and then answer the questions that follow.


At first, advertising was meant to let people know about the goods on the market. It was as easy as letting people know what you have in your store or what services you provide. Over the years, advertising has become a big business that does more than just inform. It also tries to convince and change people. It's a way to change people's minds.

Advertising has turned into a kind of culture with devoted fans. In this way, it gets the attention of manufacturers and service providers who want to get ahead of their competitors. Unfortunately, to meet the manufacturers' ever-growing needs, advertisers have made most of us want things we don't need and buy more than we should. This is a desire for things that are bad for us and would be better off without. It makes us completely crazy by messing with our minds. We are targeted by billboards, TV, and radio ads from a very young age, which shapes how we see the world as we grow up. In advertising, the catchphrases are "you're cool, hip, sophisticated, and on the hook" if you use this or that product.

People are affected by advertising. Most ads have pictures showing how emotional well-being is linked to getting things and how independence and fun are linked to drinking. Advertising also makes people care more about products than real people, which hurts their relationships with other people. We're trapped in a web of advertising, where brands of beer and cigarettes take over our thoughts and make us forget about our core family values.

When you look at most ads critically, you'll see how persuasive the advertisers are at telling us what, when, how much, and why to buy. But most people think that advertising doesn't affect them. This is exactly what advertisers want us to believe, that "the people decide" in the end. If you think about it, no businessperson who wants to make money would spend so much money to make a 30-second ad that might not even be seen by a hundred people, let alone convince them to buy. How we perceive the impact of advertising on our lives determines what advertisers can get away with.

Here are the keywords and phrases to learn:

  • addictive
  • advertising
  • appeal to our emotions
  • capture our attention
  • constant fear
  • consumer
  • convince
  • commercial
  • competition
  • designed to persuade
  • devoted fans
  • ever-growing needs
  • inform
  • persuasive
  • positive message
  • subconscious
  • techniques
  1. Make a poster using persuasive language. It could be an event, a place or destination, a university or school, or a product you use. Be prepared to explain the rhetorical devices that you included in your design.
  2. Describe an advert you saw recently. You should say:
    a. What the product/services was.
    b. Where you saw it.
    c. How was the product advertised.
    d. And how you felt about it.
  3.  Write an article about the following. Today, the high sales of popular consumer goods reflect the power of advertising and not the real needs of the society in which they are sold. To what extent do you agree or disagree?
  4. Imagine you are organising an exhibition. Write a brochure that encourages people to come to the exhibition. You can make up information about the exhibition or you can write about an existing exhibition that you have seen.
  5. Discuss the following questions.
    a. Do you remember any adverts you saw when you were younger?
    b. Do you often buy things after seeing an advert?
    c. Do you like it when celebrities advertise products?
    d. Do you think advertising will change in the future?
    e. How is advertising different now in relation to the past?
    f. Some people think it is unethical to advertise to children. Do you agree?

IB English B Language Skills

  • Listening & Speaking

    Skills to communicate both professionally and socially.

  • Reading

    Skills to stimulates imagination memory and recall information

  • Writing

    Skills to foster the ability to explain and refine ideas.

IB English B Themes

  • Experiences

    Opportunities to consider how events which take place impact an individual's life.

  • Human Ingenuity

    Opportunities to explore the sciences, technology and creativity.

  • Identities

    Opportunities to discover interests, values, belief and culture.

  • Sharing The Planet

    Opportunities to look at the challenges faced by individuals and communities in the modern world.

  • Social Organization

    Opportunities to explore the way in which groups of people organise themselves through common systems or interests.

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