Advertising Promises

Scripture: Genesis 15-17

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will review the story of Abraham, God’s Promises and Ishmael.
  • Students will learn God made several promises to Abraham and kept them all.
  • Students will learn God makes promises to us and will keep them all as well.
  • Students will learn advertisements often make promises.
  • Students will participate in an activity to discover the promises in advertising and how to determine if they will be kept.

Guiding Question: What promises are made in advertisements and how can we determine if they will be kept by the companies who made them?

Materials: magazine ads, consumer reports, consumer complaint websites including Better Business Bureau (U.S. by state)

Procedure: Review the story of Abraham, God’s promises to him and Hagar and Ishmael. Explain to students God made several promises to Abraham which He kept. Ask students to name promises God makes to us. Assure students that just like He did for Abraham, we know God will always keep His promises to us. Ask students to think of promises people make to each other. Ask students if they believe advertisements make promises. Ask them what types of promises ads make. For more advanced students discuss the difference between stated and implied promises in ads.

Give students various magazine ads. Have them identify all of the promises in their ad/ads. Ask students how they can find out if the promises will be kept before actually spending money on the object advertised. Introduce students to resources like Consumer Reports, consumer websites and other ways to research companies and products. Have students research whether or not the product will keep the promises made in the ad. Have students share their findings. If they found their ad to be misleading in any way, encourage students to redesign the ad to be more honest. Discuss as a class whether the more honest ads would sell as many products. Does making more money justify misleading customers?

Additional Questions:

  • Do television and radio ads make promises in ways that differ from print ads?

Supplemental Activity: Have more advanced students study various television and radio commercials. Does adding the benefit of sound and/or movement give those ads the ability to make more promises or promises in a different way than those found in print ads? Have students share their findings.

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