By: Shakuntala Ray
This exercise can get students thinking creatively about audience, and how you might approach different audiences to achieve the same result.
Divide the class into groups of 3. Tell the groups that you will give them a product and a target audience, and it is their job to formulate a rough sketch of an advertisement designed to those specifications.
Assign the first two groups to design an ad for hemorrhoids cream (for example). The first group should target their ad for men, while the second group targets their ad for women.
The next two groups might design ads for cellular phones, with one group directing their ad at teenagers and the other group directing theirs at the elderly. Continue to assign a variety of products and audiences until each group has a task.
Give the students plenty of time to work. As you go around to the groups, really push the students to think about how to best reach their target audience. You might also ask them if they need to narrow their audience further in order to be truly effective (for instance, targeting men ages 21-35 rather than all men). When students have completed their work, invite the groups to share their ads with the class. Then open this into a larger and more general discussion of audience and the choices writers must make when trying to reach a particular group of people.