Ad pitches

The advertising unit I've been doing with my grade 10s (MYP5) had three assignments:

I set up the ad pitch as a presentation where the form and the delivery are dictated by the context. As a result, the assignment is presented in the form of a business letter. The basic concept is to develop an idea for an ad, do a quick sketch of the ad concept and pitch it to me as the president of Kilmertron. We choose the product by having them make a short list of generic products and I choose off of the list. This year, we had toilet paper, forks, tin foil, scissors, dental floss, pillows, saws, usb devices, pencils, water taps, sticky notes and shoe polish.

I gave out the assignment and set them to work. Some of them searched around for images related to their products to get ideas for associations that already exist; others conducted informal research by asking various people what they thought of when they thought about a product. Many used the simple model from my initial presentation (consumer => desire => product), proving once again the power of a strong visual.

On Monday, the day we have class before the presentations, they had their ideas in place and basic outlines for the pitches. They asked me about how to do the pitch. In the past, I've had somebody from industry come in and give a quick tutorial, but it fell through this year so they looked at YouTube and found loads of ideas. They were practicing in the hallway, and one group went to the business office to get some feedback from the staff there.

Today was pitch day, and I put the Kilmertron logo on the door. They all came in and presented in a random order. Three-quarters were dressed up, and the presentations went well. Some were more confident than others, and a few of of the ads fell fairly flat. But more than half were ideas that I could imagine being real ads, and most were completely original. The questions they asked each other were challenging, coming from other experts in the field as it were.

After they finished, we had a little debrief. I asked them what they had liked in some of the presentations, and they were able to identify the importance of confidence and preparedness. Someone mentioned having notes was a good idea, and someone else said how much it helped to have practiced.

The most interesting part of the conversation was about how some kids loved doing that and others hated it. We talked about the kinds of careers and activities that allowed that kind of public speaking and the rewards of doing it well.

I've done the same activity for the last seven years, and it has become a highly anticipated part of grade 10 in the school; I have few plans to change the assignment in the future. However, I will probably beef up the debrief a little. I have thought about taping them, but it would interfere with the 'authenticity' of the pitch meeting.