Ad Analysis: PSA Argument Analysis

When I was a little girl I was terrified by the “This is your brain on drugs” public service announcement (PSA).  I didn’t understand it or how an egg frying was a brain on drugs.  All I knew was that it was scary and mean and harsh…everything it intended to be.  I grew up in the era of after-school programming highlighting the perils of verbal abuse, drug abuse, and sexual abuse.  It was a scary time.  Scary.  However, today’s kids don’t have the fortune of after school specials, but they do have the opportunity to view pathos-ridden, albeit bold and in-your-face, print advertisements that serve as PSAs. 

The purpose of the PSA is crucial for students to understand and, while many of the PSAs are shocking and easily evoke emotion, it is challenging for students to truly understand the nature of the advertisement itself.  While applying SOAPSTone is an effective way for students to get into the discussion of a PSA, extend the analysis by asking students to consider

  • what the PSA is suggesting as a possible outcome if the message is not heeded
  • the emotional reaction the PSA developers were intending to receive and why.
  • the extent to which we are governed by our emotions and to what degree  the PSA is effective
  • the reaction of the supporters of the organization producing the PSA.  Since most PSAs are run by non-profits, the organization is charged with pleasing supporters and persuading intended audience.
  • proposing an advertisement that counters the message of the PSA and defends the intended audience

Below are a series of public service announcements that do not suffer from a lack of subtlety.  Instead, these are targeting a clear audience by appealing to their sense of pathos.  Like the ads from yesterday, the below can be saved directly or found through a search engine.

PSA From WWF:  Save Paper, Save the Planet

PSA From the WWF of Planes attacking NYC

PSA From the State of Georgia Targeting Obesity

PSA Targeting Bullying

HSBC Bank PSA Challenging Views (more from this campaign found here )

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