Producing PSAs on consumer culture: youth reception of advertising

Christine Olson, Kylie Lanthorn, Gamze Onut, Laras Sekarasih, Erica Scharrer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


This study is a qualitative analysis of Public Service Announcement (PSA) storyboards produced by 177 fourth and sixth-grade students as part of a Media Literacy Education program on advertising and commercial culture. The program curriculum addressed the ubiquity and hidden nature of ads, as well as gender portrayals, violence, and nutritional messages in advertising content. Textual analysis revealed differing patterns in student reception of the varied lesson topics. Students called for specific behavioral changes in PSAs for the topics of nutrition and gender, although most were limited to non-media-related behaviors such as improving eating habits and encouraging fluidity across roles more traditionally associated with masculinity or with femininity. The analysis also suggested responsibility for the problems students identified with advertising were largely based on individual, consumerist perspectives rather than on collective or social, citizen-based terms. Fourth graders’ storyboards especially indicated an apparent mimicry of mainstream commercial productions and practices. The analysis further explores these fourth and sixth graders’ underlying orientations toward the U.S. commercial media system as well as the potential strengths and limitations of a production component in MLE programs to promote outcomes associated with critical media literacy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58-74
Number of pages17
JournalCritical Studies in Media Communication
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • Media literacy
  • advertising
  • consumer culture
  • student media production
  • youth


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