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What Would Scooby Do? Branding Children's Television

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Some images, sounds and words retain a strong hold on the American popular imagination for generations, and children’s animated television certainly has its share.  Who can forget the long-haired slacker in the pale green shirt who says “Zoinks!” and cowers in fear while a large, slobbery, talking dog holds him in his hands, er, paws?  Frodo lives, but Scooby Doo, Where Are You?, one of the most popular animated series in American history, lives on and on, its shelf life extended indefinitely through decades of branded merchandising.  In this MediaLit Moment, your students will have the chance to discover how iconic television images are used to enhance the appeal of everyday consumer products through the process of product branding.  The activity included here will also help your students learn how marketers of branded products use creative techniques to attract the attention of a wide range of potential customers.                  

Have students use popular images from a children’s television show to design a concept for a branded consumer product.

AHA!:  The company that produces Scooby Doo puts words and pictures from the show on things that people buy—which makes it more likely that people will buy them!   

Key Question #5:  Why is this message being sent?

Core Concept #5:  Most media messages are organized to gain profit and/or power.

Key Question #2:  What creative techniques are used to attract my attention?

Core Concept #2:  Media messages are constructed using a creative language with its own rules.

Key Question #3:  How might different people understand this message differently?

Core Concept #3:  Different people experience the same media message differently. 

Grade Level: 4-6

Materials:  overhead projector, transparencies, access to computer and color printer, and the following images downloaded through Google images:

Scooby Doo’s dog tag by itself:


Scooby Doo with tag:

 Scooby Doo party products: 

Mystery Machine van without any passengers: 

Mystery Machine van with Scooby Doo characters: 

Mystery Machine Lunch Bag: 

Activity:  The activity begins with a teaser.  Show the image with only the dog tag and ask students if they have any idea what the tag represents.  Give them verbal clues if you like—that it’s a dog tag, comes from an animated show, belongs to a talking dog, etc.  Or show them the image of the Mystery Machine without any passengers.  Or keep giving them clues until you show them one of the images that clearly reveals the source.  Draw attention to the fact that students can quickly recognize the significance of the images with just a few clues.Next, show them the images of the Scooby Doo branded products.  The words and images from the show that were so easy to recognize are now being used to make everyday objects more interesting.  Who’s going to remember any old lunch bag?  But a lunch bag that looks like the Mystery Van?  The things people buy  are called products.  So, the company 1) uses those easy-to-recognize words and pictures to attract people to the product, and most importantly  2) makes money off of the product when people (called customers) buy it.  You can also tell students that putting these words and pictures on products to attract customers is called branding.

Production Activity:  Key Question #2 for Producers:  Does my message reflect understanding in format, creativity and technology?

Key Question #3 for Producers:  Is my message engaging and compelling for my target audience? 

Before starting with this activity, you may want to ask students to come up with a list of words and pictures that they remember from the show and that other are people are likely to remember, too.  Rut Roh!        

Next, tell students that they’re going to act like they’re part of the company that puts all the words and images (branding) on the products that customers buy.  The company is looking for new products for the Scooby Doo brand.  Ask them to create a concept for a Scooby Doo consumer product that no one has seen before.  (Stick with consumer products rather than media products, since students may easily conflate media products with brand images).  What combination of words and pictures would be good to use to attract customers to this particular product?   Possible ideas to get them started:  Shaggy Hair Care, Daphne’s Fashion Accessories.  Depending on the interests and abilities of your students, you can ask them to come up with anything from short descriptions to fully designed logos and illustrations.  In addition, tell students that they need to be able to answer one question when they’ve finished their concepts:  What exactly did they do to attract customers to this product?  In this case, you’re asking students to talk about creative techniques, and possibly about ways of targeting an audience as well.  It isn’t enough for students to say that customers will like the product just because they see Scooby Doo on it.  For example, if the product is a men’s tie (a product that already exists), a man who works at an office (maybe even their Dad) might like the product because a talking dog is just so silly that it might make his boss and co-workers laugh. 

Extended Activity:

Key Question #3:  How might different people understand this message differently?

Core Concept #3:  Different people experience the same media message differently. 

The history of Scooby Doo’s initial development may also help to explain the show’s broad and long-lasting appeal to audiences.  In the mid- to late 1960s, CBS and Hanna Barbera Productions were under pressure from parent’s television groups who objected to the gratuitous violence of Johnny Quest and other Hanna Barbera action cartoons.  Fred Silverman, executive in charge of CBS children’s television programming, looked to two sources for inspiration:  I Love a Mystery, a 1940s radio program which followed the pulp fiction adventures of three detectives bent on solving mysterious crimes around the world, and the 1959-1963 television sitcom The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, about a scatterbrained teenager and his friends.  Scooby Doo would reference the suspenseful and supernatural elements of the radio show, but with Dobie Gillis as a touchstone, violence was left out of the new series, and so were the masculine stereotypes reinforced by earlier animation action heroes.  In the extended activity, help students learn more about Core Concept #3 by having them compare Scooby Doo with a children’s show that does feature action characters or superheroes.  The second show should also have a large product line and a successful history of branding products.  Iron Man might be a good choice.  Students should ask questions about the likely audience(s) for each show, and how these shows appeal to their audiences.  They should also ask questions about the creative techniques and audience strategies that marketers would use to sell products from each product line.    

The Five Core Concepts and Five Key Questions of media literacy were developed as part of the Center for Media Literacy’s MediaLit Kit™ and Questions/TIPS (Q/TIPS)™ framework.  Used with permission, © 2002-2010, Center for Media Literacy,

Last Updated ( Friday, 31 March 2017 11:42 )

Homer Simpson: Playful Parenting or Living Dangerously?

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It’s hard to find criticism that considers such shows as The Simpsons and The Family Guy as cultural artifacts worthy of serious study.  And yet many children do pay attention to the social landscape of these shows.  Here’s a quote from one young viewer of The Simpsons: “Although TV fathers are unrealistic, my Dad is more like Homer Simpson—trying to understand me even if we’re worlds apart.  I love the fact that he tries” –Mia, Age 12 (from Perceptions of Fathers in the Media: In Search of the Ideal Father, companion DVD).

The focus of this MediaLit Moment is a scene from The Simpsons Movie which highlights the father-son relationship between Bart and Homer Simpson.  Our appreciation of the relationship between these characters is complicated by the fact that they appear in an animated comedy—a cartoon.  They’re having a great deal of fun, but their rough play is so dangerous that no viewer in their right mind would ever “try this at home.”  If the scene is to be taken at all seriously, a viewer of any age might ask, “Is Homer a responsible Dad?” 

In this MediaLit Moment, your students will have the chance to explore varied and even conflicting reactions to an animated sequence.  They’ll be able to more fully study the generic conventions of cartoons; and, of course, they’ll have an opportunity to apply Key Questions and Core Concepts of media literacy to the characters they see on the small screen. 

This lesson is adapted with permission from “The Error of Our Ways,” a lesson by Dr. Janice Kelly from Perceptions of Fathers in the Media: In Search of the Ideal Father, a curriculum created by staff of the New York State Fatherhood Initiative and published by the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance.    

Have students answer questions to stimulate their moral imagination about the family relationships in an animated feature, and relate their discussions to Core Concepts/Key Questions #2 – 3. 

AHA!:  It’s not so easy to say if Homer Simpson is a positive portrayal of a Dad when he’s a cartoon!   

Key Question #3:  How might different people understand this message differently?

Core Concept #3:  Different people experience the same media message differently. 

Key Question #2:  What creative techniques are used to attract my attention?

Core Concept #2:  Media messages are constructed using a creative language with its own rules.

Grade Level:  6-8 

Materials:  DVD of The Simpsons Movie and DVD player.

The sequence in question shows Homer and Bart on the roof of the family home.  On a dare, Bart climbs up to the top of the TV antenna while Homer attempts to shake him down.  Bart rolls down the roof and is left hanging onto the rain gutter when Flanders, the next door neighbor, asks Homer if Bart might become a “paraplegarino” if he falls.

Activity:  Begin by asking students for their initial reactions.  Next, ask if they think Homer is behaving in a fun or irresponsible manner.  This discussion should last no more than a few minutes, but do draw attention to the differences in their reactions to “prime” them for a later discussion of audience and Core Concept #3.   In this activity, students will study this sequence from a few different angles. 

Ask the class to form groups of three to four students which will complete one of three tasks: 

1)    Ask students to compare other TV/Movie father-son relationships. Have them make a list of TV fathers (and sons) and poll members of their groups to find out which fathers are most appealing to them and why.  What do they like or dislike about the father-son relationship of Homer and Bart Simpson?  Is there any difference of opinion between group members as they answer these questions?  If so, can they explain why they feel the way they do?    In addition to asking students to spend time evaluating what they like or dislike about the relationship between Homer and Bart, this task asks students to focus on Core Concept #3 (Different people experience the same media message differently).  As they poll each other and discover differences of opinion, they may also become aware that they are attracted to different kinds of characters or relationships for different reasons.   

2)    Have students write a short scenario in which the elements of the sequence from the Simpsons Movie are played out as an action movie.  Just like the Simpsons sequence, one character is shaken off of a TV antenna, and one character falls through the roof. Alternatively, students can write a real-life scenario utilizing the same basic elements. The purpose of this task is for students to understand that audience expectations are different from genre to genre.  In an action movie, people get hurt more easily, and a scene on a roof suggests a lot of tension.  In a real-life scenario, falling through the roof would count as a tragedy.  If students spend a little time thinking about the fact that animation is a genre to itself, they should have an easier time thinking about the combination of danger and play in the original scene.  This task is most closely tied to Core Concept #2:  Media messages are constructed using a creative language with its own rules.    

3)    Ask students to discuss their reactions to Flanders, the next door neighbor. Is he right to be concerned?   Do they think he’s nosy?   Are there any differences of opinion about Flanders within the group?  Also, what reaction do they think that the creators of the movie hoped to generate from the audience by playing Bart and Homer against Flanders in this scene?  This task addresses Key Question #2 as well as Core Concept #3.   As with the groups tackling the first task, students may discover that they react differently to different characters for different reasons.  The question about creative choices hinges on Key Question #2, “What creative techniques are used to attract my attention?”  While an animated feature automatically evokes certain expectations from the audience, the producers of this movie are also working actively to shape the response of the audience as well.   Allow students up to fifteen minutes to complete their tasks, as writing a complete scenario might take a little time.   

Finally, lead a whole class discussion in which students draw from their new knowledge and perspectives to answer the question of whether Homer was having good, clean, fatherly fun with Bart or whether he really should have avoided putting his son’s life in danger.  While discussion should focus on the sequence, do allow them to draw on their knowledge of Homer from other Simpsons episodes that they may have viewed.  In leading the discussion, look for opportunities to help students become aware of the interplay between their reactions to the scene and the reactions--most often the “laughs”--that the producers were hoping to draw out of them.         

In some respects, the students who completed Task #1 are the moral arbiters for the rest of the class.  You may want to ask them to lead a discussion of the general characteristics of what they consider to be good parenting as they talk about the relationship between Bart and Homer.  As they note differences of opinion, they should keep in mind CC/KQ #3. 

With students who have completed Task #2, discuss the fact that different genres (or types) of media often follow different rules in stories where dangerous situations are involved (KQ#2).  You may also want to point out that cartoons often include incidents of “happy violence.”  Those incidents grab the attention of viewers, and the lack of serious consequences makes it possible for audiences to laugh “off” several incidents in a single sequence.  

In discussing the sequence with the students who completed Task #3, you may want to ask students for their character assessments of Bart, Homer and Flanders together.  Flanders is generally one of the “wimpier” characters on the show, so asking this question may trigger a discussion about masculinity.  If that happens, continue to focus on Core Concept #2 by asking what reactions they think the creators of the show hope to generate from audiences by creating different kinds of male characters.         

Extended Activity: Start planning a longer term project on fathers as they appear in different media genres and ask students to take notes and/or collect short samples.  Ask questions as students gather their collection of media Dads.  Who are the advertisers for the shows on which they appear?  What kind of audience do they think each show or movie appeals to?  What patterns do they see in similar media genres?  Do any of these things help them predict the kind of father character they’re likely to encounter in each new media sample?     

The Five Core Concepts and Five Key Questions of media literacy were developed as part of the Center for Media Literacy’s MediaLit Kit™ and Questions/TIPS (Q/TIPS)™ framework.  Used with permission, © 2002-2010, Center for Media Literacy,


Last Updated ( Wednesday, 05 May 2010 19:00 )

Prepare for Pandemic or Pass the KIeenex?

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In 1976, an epidemic of swine flu was expected in the United States, and the federal government took bold action, releasing public service announcements over television airwaves and vaccinating 45 million Americans, an unprecedented number at that time. The epidemic never came, but three elderly Pittsburgh residents died soon after receiving their vaccinations at the same clinic.  Though scientists believe the deaths were coincidental, some news reports suggested the vaccine had killed them.  “Press frenzy was so intense it drew a televised rebuke from Walter Cronkite for sensationalizing coincidental happenings,” writes Dr. David J. Sencer, then-director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (McNeil, “Don’t Blame Flu Shots for All Ills, Officials Say,” New York Times, September 28, 2009).  In 1976, the CDC did not hold news conferences, and it took five days to respond to the deaths in Pennsylvania.    

Fast forward to the spring of 2009:  A global pandemic of H1N1 swine flu takes off suddenly.  Though the initial fatality rate is low, the rate could easily climb depending on the ways in which the virus mutates over time.  The US government orders 250 million doses of H1N1 vaccine.  A small but influential movement of anti-vaccine activists has raised concerns about infant and child vaccinations. To stave off rumors which could circulate easily on the Internet and on 24-hour television news outlets, the CDC creates a “” website, posts updates on Facebook and Twitter, and assembles a media “war room” in its Atlanta headquarters.  News conferences are held there almost daily, all of which are posted to the CDC website (McNeil, op. cit).  

In 2010, the communications of health agencies deserve study because those agencies must make creative decisions about how to frame messages about health risks in a media environment which can encourage panic as well as complacency and even denial.  In this MediaLit Moment, your students will have the chance to compare two health-related PSAs to understand the purposes for which they were created, and to recognize the differing points of view they present with regard to comparable risks.       

Have students compare two public service announcements to demonstrate their understanding of purpose and point of view.

AHA!:  Different strategies for talking about health risks can really change the end product!   

Key Question #5:  Why was this message sent?

Core Concept #5:  Most media messages are organized to gain profit and/or power

Key Question #4:  What values, lifestyles and points of view are represented in, or omitted from, this message?

Core Concept #4:  Media have embedded values and points of view 

Grade Level:  8-10 

Materials:  computer with broadband access and data projector to display YouTube videos at the following URLs: 

The first link is for two 1976 PSAs produced by the CDC in anticipation of a swine flu epidemic.  The second PSA, which shows the spread of the virus from person to person, is generally the best for comparison.  The second link is for a PSA produced by the UK Department of Health at the height of the H1N1 epidemic.  This is a humorous PSA which shows how easily any germ can be spread in public spaces. 

Activity:  As always, show videos more than once.  As students give you their reactions, make sure to ask them “What?” questions to compare the content and techniques of the two ads.  What happened? For example, the CDC message shows one infected person travelling to a variety of destinations, while the UK Department of Health ad shows one infected person in an enclosed space (an elevator).  Also ask, What made the first ad scary?  What made the second ad funny?  Questions about purpose come next.  Why did the two agencies produce these ads?  What were these agencies hoping that people would do in response to them?  And ask why the ads were presented in such different ways.  Why did the CDC produce a scary ad, and why did the British government decide to make their ad funny?  What messages were they trying to send about the risks involved in spreading swine flu virus?  Next, divide the class into pairs or small groups, and explain that they’ll be adding something to their ads or changing them slightly to show what they know about the purpose behind them.  Work to ensure that a roughly equal number of groups choose each PSA.  Give your students the choice to write a title for their ad, or to write a different ending or “tag” line for the announcer.  Their lines can be goofy or even make fun of the ad itself, but they still have to demonstrate the purpose of the ad.  When students have finished their work, share and discuss the alternative versions of the ads as time allows.

Extended Activity:  Key Question #3 for Producers:  Is my message engaging and compelling for my target audience?    Ask students to come up with their own concepts for an influenza PSA, and ask students to consider the following as they prepare their PSA concepts:  Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota said that criticizing the government for its aggressive response to the threat of the H1N1 virus is like criticizing officials for building dikes in New Orleans to withstand a Category 5 hurricane when only a Category 3 storm comes ashore (Stobbe, “Is the Swine Flu Epidemic Over?”, AP, February 5, 2010).

Ask students if they were health officials who were uncertain of the threat of mortality posed by the virus, but knew that it could be devastating, what kind of PSA would they produce?  

Have students consider this information as they decide on strategies for getting the attention of their audience: In late September 2009, swine flu cases rapidly increased across the country.  The H1N1 vaccine became available in mid-October, and people waited in lines--sometimes for hours--at clinics offering the vaccine.  By mid-December, the epidemic seemed to be waning.  By the end of January 2010, only a fifth of Americans had received the vaccine, according to data released by the CDC.  A poll taken in late January by the Harvard School of Public Health also found that most Americans had assumed the pandemic was over and thought the threat was overblown (McNeil, “Most American Think Swine Flu Pandemic Is Over, a Harvard Poll Finds,” New York Times, February 6, 2010). 

When this newsletter was published, some health experts still expected a “third wave” of H1N1 in fall of 2010.  In 1976, vaccines were enthusiastically welcomed.  Many parents or grandparents still remembered children dead of smallpox, measles and polio.  Today, anti-vaccine activists reach a wide audience on the Internet, and many concerned parents believe that vaccines may cause health problems in children.  Among parents surveyed in the Harvard poll, many cited fear of side effects as a reason why their families did not receive the vaccinations.           

The Five Core Concepts and Five Key Questions of media literacy were developed as part of the Center for Media Literacy’s MediaLit Kit™ and Questions/TIPS (Q/TIPS)™ framework.  Used with permission, © 2002-2010, Center for Media Literacy,


Last Updated ( Wednesday, 24 March 2010 08:07 )

Fit-ness is in the Eye of the Beholder

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Many school nursing offices still emphasize body mass index (BMI) as a primary indicator of student health.  Yet body mass index by itself is never a reliable indicator of health, and adolescent students can readily be labeled as “obese” when they may simply be growing unevenly, gaining weight before growing in height, or becoming more muscular in build due to genetic factors or exercise.  Moreover, the practice of measuring BMI can lead schools to focus on individual weight loss rather than the importance of balanced diet and exercise for all students.  Doing so makes it difficult for students who fall outside of the “normal” range to maintain a positive self-image, and can even contribute to the incidence of eating disorders among young people.  

In recognition of National Eating Disorders Awareness Month, we present this MediaLit Moment in which your students will have the chance to reflect on their perceptions regarding weight and physical fitness, and to think more critically about the values and lifestyles embedded in media images of “fit” people.     

Have students analyze their perceptions of a media text that offers an alternative image of fitness.   

AHA! This woman doesn’t look like most of the “fit” people I see in movies or TV, but does that mean she’s “out of shape”?  

Key Question #3:  How might different people understand this message differently?

Core Concept #3:  Different people experience the same media message differently 

Key Question #4:  What values, lifestyles and points of view are represented in, or omitted from, this message?

Core Concept #4:  Media have embedded values and points of view. 

Grade Level:  9-12 

Materials:  Printed image, slide of the same image and slide projector, or computer with broadband access and data projector to display image at the following URL: This image is taken from a 2004 billboard for the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty, and asks viewers whether the model shown on the billboard is “fat” or “fit.”   

Activity:  As an anticipatory set to this lesson, you might want to ask students for their definition of fitness.  What’s most important?  Sticking to a healthy diet?  Being able to run a marathon?  Come up with a loose definition.    
Once you have shown the image, allow some time for students’ spontaneous responses, and simply act as a facilitator for discussion.  When you feel the class is ready, ask:  what inferences (or guesses) can you make regarding this woman’s physical fitness just by looking at the image on the billboard? Can you imagine this woman dancing?  Running?  Skiing?  (or any other activity which requires energy, strength, coordination, etc.) If your students confuse the concepts of thin and fit when discussing fit-ness, call attention to the assumption of thin-ness as a primary indicator of health and how that assumption affects them personally (if time permits, see Extended Activity below).
Next, ask students to write down a list of the “fit” female characters they’ve seen in the media—in movies, on TV, on the Internet, in video games.  What are they like?  What do they do?  You can expand this prompt by giving students the option to add male characters and/or “fat” characters to their list. How does the woman on the billboard compare with the media images of fit people that they see on an everyday basis?  Why do they think the producers of these other media portrayed fit characters in the way that they did?  

Extended Activity:  Assign a project in which students do some research on what constitutes physical fitness. Or consult with a health teacher and distribute materials (or direct students to sources) on physical fitness that helps them understand that weight is just one indicator of health that should be considered in context with many other factors.  Or. . . ask them to interview people they think are fit, and ask them what “staying fit” means to them, and why they believe that is true.

Key Question #5:  Why was this message sent?
Core Concept #5:  Most media messages are organized to gain profit and/or power.

Dove took down the billboards when 51% of audiences responded that they thought the model was “fat.”  Why do they think Dove took the billboards down, and why do they think Dove produced this billboard in the first place? If you were in charge of this campaign, would you do anything differently?  You could also ask students to draw or produce their own billboard (well, something that will fit inside the classroom door. . .).   

If you want to broaden the discussion, ask students to visit the Campaign for Real Beauty website  (, and ask students why a major beauty products company would decide to create this campaign.     

The Five Core Concepts and Five Key Questions of media literacy were developed as part of the Center for Media Literacy’s MediaLit Kit™ and Questions/TIPS (Q/TIPS)™ framework. Used with permission, © 2002-2010, Center for Media Literacy,

Last Updated ( Thursday, 18 February 2010 16:06 )

What Does It Mean To Be Green?

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According to a Cone Consumer Environmental Survey conducted this year, 34% of Americans indicate that they are more likely to buy environmentally responsible products today, and another 44% indicate that their environmental shopping habits have not changed despite the current economic climate ( Not surprisingly, environmental marketing campaigns have also been on the upswing.

And there is no doubt that a significant number of deceptive (or “greenwashed”) advertisements and product labels have been riding the tide of these campaigns.  Terra Choice Environmental Marketing published a “Sevens Sins of Greenwashing” report this year which asserted that 98% of products reviewed violated at least one of their rules for making legitimate environmental claims (  In fact, this year’s report adds an additional “sin” not included in the 2007 report--“the sin of worshipping false labels,” a practice by which companies give the impression of third party environmental endorsements for their products where no such endorsement exists. 

But enough of the bad news.  The good news is that “green” advertisements and labels provide a great springboard for teaching across nearly all disciplines.  By analyzing these advertisements, students can increase their consumer, health and financial literacy.

In this MediaLit Moment, your high school students will have the chance to consider the moral, social and ecological ramifications of an activity they are becoming familiar with---shaving--against the environmental claims that a major auto maker makes for its cars.    

Have students analyze and evaluate a “green” advertisement’s appeal to them, as well as the message it conveys about their lifestyle choices.

AHA!:  They’re trying to tell me that buying a fuel-efficient car from them is more important than saving resources at home!

Key Question #5:  Why was this message sent?

Core Concept #5:  Most media messages are organized to gain profit and/or power

Key Question #4:  What values, lifestyles and points of view are represented in, or omitted from, this message? 

Core Concept #4:  Media have embedded values and points of view

Grade Level:  10-12

Materials:  computer with high speed internet access, data projector, projection screen, GM E85 (ethanol fuel) car advertisement, accessed at You Tube:  

Activity:  Have students watch the commercial at least a couple of times.  After the first showing, ask students, what makes this commercial funny?  And also ask, what kind of audience do they think GM was trying to target with this ad? (According to our research, this ad aired only on MTV).

After the second showing, ask students about the environmental claims of this commercial.  What is the carmaker trying to say about the corn-based fuel that the car uses (ethanol) and the water students (boys and girls) use to shave?  

Next, ask them how they feel about the fact that the advertisement is trying to persuade them that their personal consumption habits matter less than the decision to invest in a new Chevy vehicle.  Are they embarrassed when they think of how much water they use?  Are they annoyed by the comparison?  Are they “sold” on the product?  Does the advertisement simply make them laugh?  Can they explain why they feel the way they do?    

Extended Activity: 

Key Question #3:  How might different people understand this message differently? 

Core Concept #3:  Different people experience the same media message differently

Ask your students to rate the environmental claims of this commercial.  Are the environmental benefits of driving a Chevy E85 presented in a credible and appropriate way? Did GM “fudge” the facts a little?  Is this ad a good example of greenwashing?   For example, does the ad present an “apples to oranges” comparison that “sounds” right but cannot be readily substantiated?  Also, is ethanol really a “gas friendly” alternative fuel, or are the claims that GM makes about ethanol and their ethanol-compatible vehicles overblown?  Place students in pairs or teams and ask them to prepare presentations based on their research.  Or organize a debate. . .or a forum. 

Here are some sources that you may want to use to prepare study guides, or to assign to students in their entirety: 


US Federal Trade Commission guides to environmental claims in advertising:

Recent Federal Trade Commission testimony to Congress on attempts to regulate the “virtual tsunami” of recent green advertising:

Understanding and Preventing Greenwash:  A Business Guide, by BSR and Futerra Associates

Consumer Reports evaluations of “green” products at

Terrra Choice 2009 report on greenwashing at

The Ethanol Debate

Thermodynamics of the Corn-Ethanol Biofuel Cycle, by Ted Patzek, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, UC Berkeley

The Debate on Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Impacts of Fuel Ethanol by Michael Wang, Argonne National Laboratories 

“Ethanol Can Contribute to Energy and Environmental Goals,” by Farrell, Plevin, Turner et al., Science magazine, January 27, 2006 (volume 311), pps. 506-508.  Accessible online at:


The Five Core Concepts and Five Key Questions of media literacy were developed as part of the Center for Media Literacy’s MediaLit Kit™ and Questions/TIPS (Q/TIPS)™ framework.  Used with permission, © 2002-2009, Center for Media Literacy,


Last Updated ( Sunday, 17 January 2010 16:20 )

Page 17 of 19
Previous Issues:

 21st century skills
 a day in the life of a media literacy educator
 a year in review 2014
 a year in review december 2012
 advertising consumer debt and media literacy
 anytime anywhere learning
 big data
 body image and media literacy
 bots terrorism and media literacy
 building a strong foundation
 call to action
 cell phones as learning tools
 change management in schools
 children and media literacy part 2
 children and media literacy
 citizen journalism
 citizenship in the digital age part 2
 citizenship in the digital age
 cml media literacy trilogy
 comics and media literacy
 community media
 confirmation bias and media literacy
 criteria for media literacy instruction
 crowdfunding and media literacy
 digital britain
 documentary film and media literacy
 education and creative economy
 education creative economy australia
 empowerment theory practice activism
 esl and media literacy
 fair use for media literacy
 faith and media literacy
 frameworks for inquiry
 gender representation media
 global citizenship media literacy
 global education
 heuristics nudge theory and the internet of things
 history of media literacy
 leadership elizabeth thoman
 len masterman and the big ideas of media literacy
 libraries museums and informal learning
 maps and media literacy
 media and body image
 media and information literacy
 media and information literacy part 2
 media deconstruction as essential learning skill
 media literacy computational thinking
 media literacy risk assessment
 media literacy and 21st century skills
 media literacy and arts education
 media literacy and common core
 media literacy and human rights
 media literacy and masculinity
 media literacy and media construction
 media literacy and nutrition
 media literacy and personal data management
 media literacy and pharmaceutical advertising
 media literacy and science
 media literacy and student empowerment
 media literacy and the environment
 media literacy and video games
 media literacy early childhood education
 media literacy for grown ups
 media literacy in the community
 media literacy pioneers
 media literacy policy and legislation
 media morals and empowerment
 media violence and media relationships
 media violence
 monsters and media literacy
 new curriculum and media literacy
 online privacy and media literacy
 online safety
 parents and media literacy
 participation in what
 professional development for media literacy
 propaganda and media literacy
 reality tv and media literacy
 redefining school communities
 research media literacy
 responding to racism and stereotypes in media
 sexism in media
 social networking
 sports and media literacy
 systems thinking and media literacy
 teaching healthy skepticism
 television and media literacy
 the mediated city and the public
 the role of journalism in society
 trust through technology
 us department of education
 voices of media literacy
 what media literacy is and is not
 whats in a name
 where are we now institutionalizing media literacy