Drug Ads over Time: Analyzing Historical Images - Lesson Plan Idea
Drug Ads over Time: Analyzing Historical Images - Overview
Use ProCon.org's Gallery of Drug Ads to give students an opportunity to practice ad analysis and recognize how methods and messages have changed over time.
Use the rich visual resources available on ProCon.org, such as the "Drug Ads Gallery, 1800s-2014," site, to create a "gallery walk" for students. Print out pictures of prescription drug ads from each decade in the 20th century and hang them in sets around your classroom. Beside each set of photos, hang a large piece of chart paper divided into sections. Each section should be labeled with a category for student's observations about the photos. These can include what they notice about background, costumes, gender roles, age (and the treatment of children or the elderly), race, depiction of mental illness, target audience, cultural values, the nature or style of healing claims, the number of words and typefaces used (i.e., amount and style of "copy"), and/or the voice of authority.
Divide the class into groups and place one group at each set of pictures. Group members should confer about the ads and record their observations on the chart provided. Give each group a different colored marker to hold them accountable for high quality responses. After a specified period of time, have each group rotate to the next set of pictures. At the new set of pictures, groups should once again discuss and then add their notes to the ones already on the chart without any repetition. Repeat until all groups have seen all pictures and then ask students to return to their seats.
Go through the charts as a class, asking groups to elaborate on the particularly interesting responses. Finally, have each student write a short essay on how prescription drug ads have changed over the past century. They should address at least three of the categories you included on the chart. Alternatively, you may invite students to consider whether ads have improved (not just changed) over time.