My daughter’s Language Arts Class has been discussing commercials: what the main point of any commercial is (for to sell you stuff you may or may not need) and how they use the power of persuasion to achieve their purpose. Personally, I’m pretty impressed with the lesson plan. I know some adults who haven’t quite gotten this concept, let alone the 12 year olds in my daughter’s class.
The culmination of this lesson is that each student has to develop their own product, write a short essay about the purpose of the product and who might use it, develop a storyboard for a commercial selling their product, and then execute their commercial. I sooooo wish I had such a cool teacher when I was in sixth grade. Our projects involved poster board and glitter glue and culminated in us fidgeting in front of our classmates.
My daughter brainstormed a number of ideas to start with – my favorite one was Rent A Brother. Her commercial idea centered on having her youngest brother bat puppy dog eyes at the camera, therefore enticing your parents into more allowance, less punishment, and possibly a puppy. (A born salesman to even attempt to con people into this, as the same brother hasn’t reaped her near as good of results and has probably gotten her into more trouble than she’s apt to get into on her own). Her teacher, however, ix-nayed this idea, as I guess renting people should be frowned on even if it is just make believe – and, he didn’t want them to treat it as make believe. He wanted them to come up with a real idea for a real product.
Her second favorite idea was an energy drink. She came up with a name, logo, and intricate storyboard. When she came up with her commercial concept, she cast her younger brothers as the stars. Unfortunately, she forgot to tell them that. She also forgot to tell them that she’d scheduled their rehearsal for most of Saturday and filming would take them away from TV, games, and whatever else they might’ve wanted to do.
This, of course, led to a rather large argument – which I tried valiantly to stay out of. You know lots of wheedling back and forth, righteous indignation, that sort of thing.
Daughter: Come on. I’ll help you with any homework you want. When you have to do this project, I’ll even play a song for it.
Oldest Son: I won’t even be in 6th grade for two years. Your teacher might be dead by then.
Daughter: He’s not that old, he’s not even as old as mom. (I still haven’t figured out why this is the line in the sand on old age, but there ya go).
Oldest Son: Still, that’s two years... what else you got?
Daughter: (voice rising in an obvious indication that the dramatics are about to begin) What do you want?!!!
Oldest Son: Fifty bucks.
Daughter: FIFTY?!!! Okay, fine. Fifty bucks.
Oldest Son: You don’t have fifty bucks. You have four dollars and a bunch of change. (Leans back on the couch with his arms under his head and a very smug, I-just-tricked-you look on his face)
Daughter: (blink, blink, blink... shuts and opens mouth getting good and frothy mad)
Me: She’s not giving you fifty dollars. How about if you do it out of the kindness of your heart and consideration for your sister who loves you and needs some help?
Daughter: (crosses her arms and grins triumphantly)
Oldest Son: (looks at youngest brother who’s been watching the argument with interest). That’s mom code for we have to.