LESSON: Create Your Own Contraceptive Advertising

The American Academy of Pediatrics (2010) tells us that advertising condoms, birth control pills and emergency contraception on TV and radio could further decrease the teen pregnancy rate. Yet they note that several networks refuse these types of advertisements. They go on to say that advertisements for emergency contraception are “virtually nonexistent on American TV despite the fact that every year American women have 3 million unplanned pregnancies which lead to 1.3 million abortions.” 2010, p.578).

Because teens get much of their information on the web these days, this is an excellent place for them to share new and creative ads they develop themselves about contraceptives. This lesson encourages them to make their own ads and share them with friends on FaceBook, MySpace, and other places on the web they visit regularly.
Level: High School

  • Create awareness of different methods of birth control
  • Explain details about at least one birth control method (the method selected to feature in the ad), including the way it works and its advantages and disadvantages
  • Brainstorm script and storyboard for contraceptive ad

Time: 1+ class periods

Preparation and Materials:

  • Open the discussion by telling the class the average person sees about 2500 ads per day.

  • Ask them where people might see that many ads? Lead them in a discussion identifying the various media sources that they might encounter in a day (TV, Internet, magazines, billboards, etc.)

  • Considering TV, ask them what types of products are generally seen in the ad (e.g. food, grooming products, cars, etc.)

  • Now ask how often among all the ads they’ve watched on TV they can remember seeing an ad for a contraceptive. Are these ads as prevalent as ads for food, grooming products, cars, beer, etc.? Share with them the 2010 conclusion of the American Academy of Pediatrics stating that ads focusing on a contraceptive product are rarely seen. In fact some TV networks have even refused to broadcast them. Why do they think that might be? (e.g. showing them ways to protect themselves might encourage sex, something that studies have shown is far from the truth!) ).

  • Activities

    Tell the group that they are going to make their own contraceptive ads on video to encourage their friends and other teens to use protection if they choose to become sexually active.

    Ask the group to form small ad teams and await further instructions.

    Part 1: Background Research
    Each ad team will need to gather some background material. In order to proceed, they will all need access to the Internet or a copy of the Washington State Department of Health’s (DOH) Birth Control Methods pamphlet. For those needing a copy of this pamphlet, go to: Birth Control: Choosing The Method That's Right For You

    Since the publication of the DOH pamphlet, there is new information that has become available about Emergency Contraception (EC). In August 2010, the FDA approved new form of EC known as ella that is considered more effective and gives women a longer window of time to prevent unintended pregnancy than Plan B. For more information about ella and EC in general, check out the following fact sheet produced by the Kaiser Family Foundation

    Have the team review the DOH pamphlet and other material they can find from reliable sources such as the Kaiser Family Foundation Fact Sheet before choosing the birth control method that will be the focus for their ad. Encourage the teams to read all the material carefully before making their choice.

    Report to the class the method they have chosen as the focus of their ad and discuss why they have made this choice (e.g. is this a form of birth control that people need to know more about; is this something that they need to reminded to use consistently and correctly even though they’ve heard about it such as a condom; is this something such as ella that they may not know about at all?);

    Part 2: Script Writing and Storyboarding
    Ads on TV are very short, generally 1 minute or less. Instruct the class that their ad needs to have a clear message and needs to get that message across in a creative and clever way in order to attract the attention of their teen audience.

    Two key components of preproduction in creating an ad are scriptwriting and storyboarding. Both are essential for constructing a media message, and translating it from page to screen. This portion of the lesson will now focus on the steps the team will need to take.

    Use Steps to Follow in Scriptwriting and Storyboarding as a guide to the steps that the team will want to take in creating a high quality ad.

    Also see the blank concept storyboard handout with ready-to-fill columns for notes on text, video, and sound.

    Inform each team that they should plan to develop a storyboard for their ad and be prepared to discuss their script ideas when they are called upon in Part C.

    Part 3: Sharing Brainstorms
    Each team will now show their storyboard to the group and share their script ideas. The class is instructed to offer feedback and suggestions.

    Part 4: Filming (Optional)
    Some of the teams may want to move beyond the brainstorming stage and film their ads. Encourage students to do this whenever possible and to share them with their class. Filming could be considered as an extra credit activity since many students have access to cameras outside of school. For further ideas on filming your ad, go to: Teen Aware


    Discuss details regarding the contraceptive that they chose to feature in their ad, addressing its advantages and disadvantages for teens. Discuss verbally or in writing their rationale in creating their ad in the way they chose and selecting their media message. Assessment can also be based on the storyboard and script they create for their ad.