🖤 Donations of all sizes power our public service journalism Give Now

Million Bazillion Academy, Week 4: Advertising

Advertisers have lots of ways of persuading us to buy their stuff. Sometimes you might not even realize it’s happening … until you find yourself riding around town on an ice-cream-making scooter. (Don’t worry, we’ll explain.) This week on the show, we’ll learn how to spot an ad and identify the tricks they use to win you over. And we’ll learn how to defend against them — from our special guest, Captain Kimberly.

Listen to the episode above or click here to play in your podcast app! Here’s a transcript. After listening, click here to download this week’s worksheet. More discussion questions and links after the cartoon.

A comic strip showing host Jed Kim watching a video and thinking about buying the scooter he sees in it. Superhero Captain Kimberly encourages him to think about whether he really needs it.

Money Talks

Take a minute to recap the episode and review the key points. Here are some questions to get the kids going. Answers are at the bottom of the page!

  1. What was Jed saving money for before he blew most of it on the ice-cream-making scooter?
  2. Are there ads out there that aren’t just commercials on TV? What are they?
  3. What are some ways you can resist the persuasive powers of advertisements?

Tip Jar

Sometimes it’s hard to tell when an ad is an ad, and often they can be really creative and fun. So don’t be too hard on yourself for enjoying ads — just try to maintain healthy objectivity.

The Federal Trade Commission has resources for grown-ups (including some free lesson plans) to help kids learn critical thinking skills and be smarter consumers. The agency encourages kids to ask these three questions:

  • Who’s responsible for the ad?
  • What is the ad actually saying?
  • What does it want you to buy, do or think?

And Common Sense Media has a great video and a variety of tips for teaching children of all ages — preschool, elementary, middle and high school students — about advertising. The organization recommends watching TV, playing video games or using smartphone apps together with kids, then taking some time to point out product placement, logos and “sly calls to buy” contained within each form of media.

Money Talks answers

  1. Repairs to his treehouse
  2. Answers will vary, but include “review” or “unboxing” online videos and product placement.
  3. Answers will vary, but include:
    • Identifying an ad when you see/hear one
    • Taking a second to stop and think, do I really need what they’re selling?
    • Sitting back and waiting two weeks before you buy what’s being advertised

That’s it for this week of Million Bazillion Academy! We’re here to make kids and their grown-ups smarter about money. Did someone send this page to you? Click here to enroll in our free email newsletter course!