STEP 1: Select three television ads that are each promoting a different make and model of automobile. Closely analyze the details in these sales pitches and take some notes. Be sure to focus on what characteristics and priorities the “characters” in the ads are presumed to have based on the ad’s rationale or particular “angle.”
STEP 2: Review the sections from the module about class, social mobility, and theoretical perspectives on stratification. Choose 3 or 4 concepts from these sections and apply them to the sales pitches you’ve analyzed. Consider questions such as:
- What class statuses do you think are on display?
- What aspirations or identities do you think are being appealed to?
- To what extent is the viewer being asked to identify with a given social and/or economic status?
- What does ownership of these particular vehicles presumably signify about these potential customers?
These are just some suggested lines of inquiry, and there are of course other worthwhile questions and useful concepts from the module readings that can help you think about advertising pitches and stratification from a sociological perspective. Be sure to use the specialized vocabulary you’ve been learning about in the reading.
STEP 3: Once you’ve sketched out some initial responses to these questions, and drawn connections between the imagery, narration (if any), dialogue, characterization, setting, etc., in the ads, focus on one individual from each one, and assign that person a name.
Now, hypothesize a short list of characteristics for each person that can be inferred from how they’re portrayed in the ads. What do you think they do for a living? What types of status–say, monetary or cultural–are associated with that work? How do you imagine their living situation? House? Apartment? What do the ads imply about this person’s possible background or future in terms of their status? Do the ads suggest that purchasing this particular car will alter that status in some measurable way?
In addition to analyzing the “pitch” made in the ads, also be sure to include your own perspective based on your personal experience and observations. What statuses or class-specific lifestyles do you associate with these types of cars? Why?
STEP 4: Submit your work in two sections: (1) a brief analysis of each commercial; and (2) a short description of each “character” you’ve chosen to name. On a more nuts-and-bolts level: your paper should be between 500-750 words and should be carefully edited for clarity and readability.
|Relevant concepts from reading are accurately and thoughtfully applied.
|Relative concepts are applied in an unclear or too general sense. Student understanding not adequately demonstrated.
|Relevant concepts are only vaguely or unclearly addressed.
|Student’s own views are clearly and substantively articulated.
|Student’s views are unclearly or too briefly stated.
|Student’s views largely or completely absent.
|Paper has been carefully edited for clarity and readability. Paper meets minimum length requirements.
|Some editing issues remain, affecting clarity and readability. Paper is below the minimum length.
|Paper has substantial editing issues that make the student’s thinking hard to follow. Paper is far too short.