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The projects involve the creation of a product from its inception to its
logo, to its packaging, to a full color magazine ad for it. Each year I
varied the category of product--one year it was breakfast foods, another
year fashion accessories and one year I did a retail business where they
ended up having to design a building for the business. This tied into a
previous unit of perspective.
We start the unit with the kids bringing in magazine ads for the product
category (i.e. breakfast cereal ads). We try to isolate different
selling strategies (sex, exclusivity, endorsements, testimonials etc.) and
discover how advertising can manipulate us. Kids are very tuned into ads
and they enjoy this discussion. Its important to train them to be smart
consumers. There's a lot of vocabulary which I quiz them on.
When students create the product they will design, they provide me with
written descriptions and try to define their target audience and what will
make people want to buy their product. The product must have a strong
concept to carry it through all the projects and I often veto ideas or send
them back for further refinement by asking them to consider specific
questions I have about the product's worth or originality. Many ethnically
offensive ideas often turn up which can create worthwhile discussion about
stereotyping and prejudice.
The next step is logo design which incorporates lessons on type
styles--most of this is done on the computer but I also have lots of
lettering books in the room which students can use. We look at a lot of
big name logos as examples. Students need to think of an "attitude" for
their products. Packages or containers come next. If its a food item,
they must list ingredients, have a bar code and consider shelving
requirements (no odd shaped containers for a grocery store shelf!).
Sometimes the kids make the container out of fomcor or heavy paper. The
full page ad in color with a slogan or catchy headline is usually the final
project, however the year we did breakfast foods, we created television
commercials which I videoed for them. They had to use the container they'd
made in the commercial. We showed them for several weeks after the morning
video announcements to the whole school and had a great response!
This ad unit is really a hit with kids and I often see a lot of creative
humor come out of it. The projects can be diverse but the overall theme
gets kids tuned into a wide assortment of careers that are associated with
art and gets them to appreciate all the artistic decision making involved
in commercial art applications. Students gain a lot from constantly
refining and adapting their own product through the various projects.
Hope this helps.
A pat on the back is only a few centimeters from a kick in the butt.