Thursday, February 15, 2024

Use This Old Superbowl Ad to Teach Situational Irony and Author's Purpose

 The year is 2015 and Go Daddy pulled their ad because it was too controversial:

Some of your students will find this as hilarious and others will not due to the puppy farm reference.

There are two ways to use this for your classroom.  The first is to give it as a reading comprehension (yes, I know no reading is involved, btu the same skills are used).  You can do this using the Daily EOC Blog post.  This blog gives a reading comprehension style question every day that you can use as a class starter or pull up several of them for a quiz or however else you choose to use it.  This gives you a chance to talk about the process of elimination if you have students that struggle with some fairly basic literary terms.  The question on this particular post refers to the humor in the ad.  Remind students that humor is subjective and one does not need to find it funny in order to understand what was intended to be be funny.

The other way to to use this ad is to talk about author's purpose.  Students that struggle reading often have problems understanding why a piece was written or why the author chose to present it in this manner or that manner.  The more we get them to think about the why the author did it, the better readers they will be and the better chance to get those type questions on your state test.

Here's the background to tell students - Superbowl ads, as they know, cost a lot of money.  This year (2024) it costs roughly $7 million for 30 seconds of air time (not to mention the cost for making the commercial to begin with).  In 2015 is was $4.25 million.  The author (in this case, the company sponsoring the ad) wants as many people to see this ad as possible for that kind of money.  Companies release their ads to the media ahead of the Superbowl so that news articles about the ads are ready to go as soon as the Superbowl airs.  This also gives more ad exposure.  The more extravagant the ad, the more people will want to discuss it long after the Superbowl.  What Go Daddy does here is absolutely on purpose.  They released their ad using a puppy mill for humorous effect knowing that once the media sees it, one group in particular is going to denounce it - PETA.  Once PETA does this, Go Daddy pulls the ad and replaces it with another that they just happened to have ready to go.  Remember that the purpose here is get more people to see the ad, so ask students how they got this to happen.  After some discussion, if nobody figures it out, you can reveal the trick.  

Once the headlines are "Go Daddy Pulls Ad for Being too Controversial", the one thing everyone wanted to do? See the ad.  Online newspapers, magazines, and other media outlets made sure to give the public what they wanted and showed the banned ad.  The result?  More people watched the Superbowl ad that DIDN'T air than those that did.

So enjoy it. This will give you about ten minutes of discussion and will leave them something to remember about what irony actually is and make them start thinking about author's purpose.

And if you want to incorporate the Daily EOC question (all state reading comprehension questions are basically the same format), its absolutely free and you can find it here:   

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