Advertising Propaganda is Like Savoir Faire --It's Everywhere

Advertising propaganda is everywhere. I highly suggest teaching your children to disrespect liars, and I strongly suggest that they learn what motivates advertisers, which is a euphemism for propagandists.

Training your children early to be aware of these dishonest maneuvers to ply their parents from their hard-earned money will keep money in their pockets as they grow older, and will teach them to think more critically about how to evaluate products that are needed.

Parents: This page is intended to provide a lesson plan for how advertising manipulates viewers.

However, ads don't just promote a product for profit. There's a residual effect on boys and girls.  

Blatant sexism in advertising propaganda isn't always measurable, but we can feel it. Viewer warning!  Click To Tweet! 

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Besides the obvious places like the radio and television that the average American watches more than 153 hours a month (2,601 minutes of advertising exposure), we also are bombarded on the -

  • back of receipts with offers to buy 1, get 2nd one for half price.
  • on social media like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. 
  • under our windshield wipers
  • in our bank statements
  • on the internet when we are tracked with cookies on our computers, and
  • free shipping coupons, catalogs,  and
  •  emails from companies that you've previously purchased goods. 
  • Channel One in the public schools 

Photo seen on FB page ASheepNoMore https://www.facebook.com/ASheepNoMore?fref=photo

Top 7 Advertising Propaganda Techniques 

Remember that advertisers appeal not only to those who are in charge of spending the money, but also those who will have spending money. Training children to choose their products is a large part of the advertisers' goals as well. 

Husbands certainly have their say when it comes to automobiles, investments, some foods, and alcoholic beverages, so advertisers target sporting events. 

Heads Up: After these seven techniques, I'll offer you a test on a set of eight advertisements.

Advertisers or propagandists don't limit themselves to only one technique to get you to buy, so don't be surprised when your child sees a different technique than you do.


1. Bandwagon-- This ploy is used to get people to buy the thing that "everyone else is buying now." It plays on consumers' insecurities that if they don't go and get this product now, they will miss out "on the bargain of a lifetime," or they won't be cool or popular. Perhaps, you've heard:

  • "The sale is going on now. Get yours before it's too late." 
  • "There's only a limited supply of these magnificent ???? at this price."
  • "Wouldn't you like (your skin) to be clear too!" 
  • "Cast your vote for the next president of the United States, ?????? (Implied: You'll get bragging rights for four years that you didn't choose the LOSER.)
  • "Be a part of the New Generation." (Implied: You will be if you drink ?????.)


2. Glittering Generalities -- In these types of propaganda, the manipulation tactics that are used against consumers include using honorable words like 

  • original, new, and improved, 
  • independence, patriotism, and freedom
  • delicious, succulent, mouthwatering,
  • elegant, fashionable, luxurious
  • truth, justice, and loyalty. 
  • "Anything is possible when your man smells good."
  • Are you loving it? (Don't think about the non meat items that are in the product.)
  • "Cuz you're worth it!" (The product is a higher price, but that's okay.) 

3. Card Stacking -- This is a advertising propaganda strategem that gives ONLY one side of the story, and only POSITIVE information about the product. 

Drug companies are notorious for using the card stacking technique. Afterall, what company is going to tell you up front that one of the side effects of the medicine is death. 

Car companies are guilty too. They choose one outstanding quality of their vehicle and compare it to a carefully selected car of their opposition.

I recently saw a commercial for ice cream that propagandized that it had a new recipe with half the fat. That was true, but it didn't reveal that the ice cream was being whipped at a faster speed to add more air. More air, less fat and half truths. 

Plus, the consumer was paying for the extra air. 

4. Name calling -- This advertising propaganda technique is pretty obvious. It's making fun of, criticizing, ridiculing, and otherwise disrespecting the opposition.That opposition is most often another political candidate, which is when this propaganda tactic is commonly used. The term "mud slinging" also is commonly use in political circles. 

You may hear things like: 

  • Our car gives you 10 percent greater gas mileage than the other vehicle.
  • Our product gives you smooth, silky hair, not tangled and dry like that other brand. 

This slogan was very popular! Humor, plain folks, name calling, Remember, our hamburgers are square because we don't cut corners. 

5. Testimonial  --  This is an easy one. Advertising propaganda experts pay someone famous to wear, eat, and promote their product. These ads work because these famous people are admired and respected for their achievements. 

The ad almost always falls in the same category as the bandwagon technique.The idea is to make the consumer feel that they are missing out on a quality life if they are not using the same product as the "famous" person. 

6. Transfer  --  The transfer propaganda technique also is about respect, but respect of groups, organizations, and symbols. They know that you admire them, so because they use or endorse this product, you, the consumer, should feel safe and secure to use this product too. Here are some phrases you may recognize: 

  • The American Dental Association recommends that you brush your teeth after every meal and use ??????? toothpaste. 
  • I've been told that doctors, years ago, used to do cigarette commercials.

Here are a few more examples: 

Watch the video and notice the emphasis on FEELINGS.

Observe that the product is not predominant on the page. It doesn't have to be.

In fact, the product is over in the bottom right-hand corner.

Research shows that the eye naturally moves there when reading a page, so propagandists place the logo there. 

7. Plain Folks  -- This propaganda technique attacks the consumer on two fronts. One it may use character actors who look like everyday people "just like us," or it may use "famous" people who are acting "just like us."

Either way, the intent is to drop your guard so the company can sell its product. By pretending that these actors know what we want, they are promoting something that will "help" us have a better life. Why? Because they are "plain folks," just like us. 

Advertising Propaganda Quiz

Get a sheet of paper and number it 1 through 8. Watch the  5-minute video a couple of times. I did not notice all the techniques myself the first time either. Propaganda usually uses humor, which is distracting from the underlying message. 

Here's a second quiz of older ads that not only reflect advertising propaganda, but also sexism in the advertising industry. Parents: While these were in national magazines 50 years ago, they may not be appropriate for elementary school children. 

Learning To Make Fun of "Commercials" or 
Talking Back to your Television

Before you begin this lesson, remember WHY you are going to learn to talk back to TV propaganda. Your objective is

  • To hold onto your wealth by not being manipulated into buying something you don't need. 
  • To improve your children's critical thinking skills by teaching them to recognize when someone is coercing them with wily subterfuge.

First, record only advertising propaganda from the programs that you regularly watch as a family so everyone can be involved. 

Later, during homeschool study, have your children get their list of advertising propaganda techniques, watch one commercial at a time, and have them write down which technique was used. Have them share their answers with each other and elaborate on their choices. 

Go to the next ad.

Complete five or six so that hopefully all seven techniques are observed. Reinforce this during regular supervised TV time by making it a friendly competition. A little competition is an excellent learning strategy.  Encourage your children to notice which techniques are used. 

Even educational programs are propaganda and have advertisements that support their productions, but eventually your family will be able to watch the good from television with minimal invasion from its downside. 

After studying this advertising propaganda, you can also review critical thinking skills. 

Applying Socratic thinking skills to news events, also is an excellent learning strategy.

Visit my latest page on how to identify fallacious thinking errors

Political Indoctrination

Homeschoolers are fortunate. Parents will probably never fully know the problems they avoid by teaching their children at home. 

While researching this page, I found this video below. It was produced by Disney Studios in 1943. Of course, this cartoon is propaganda too. 

Note how "essential" it is for children to go to public schools, so they can be indoctrinated more effectively.


Disclosure: You'll notice that there are advertising propaganda on this site as well. I don't select it to specifically target you, the worldwide net tracks you. However, these ads support me, so my work isn't just spinning my wheels, so to speak. 

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