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TX Political Stars are Big and Bright: Identifying Audiences

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Rick Perry Meme
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Brief Assignment Overview: 

Getting students to think in more specific terms about audience, without generalizing, is challenging. Using political ads, work with students to identify audiences and think of themselves critically as audience members. 

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Assignment Length: 
Pedagogical Goals - Rhetoric: 
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Full Assignment Description: 

First, play Rick Perry’s infamous Strong ad. You know, the one where he says, “You don’t need to be in the pew every Sunday to know there’s something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military but our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school.” That one. Before showing the ad, quickly remind students that the ad premiered as Rick Perry was losing traction for GOP voters in the Republican primary. Then, watch the ad and discuss who this ad was meant to encourage and why. Ask students, “What does this ad tell us about the state of Rick Perry’s campaign? Who is he reaching out for?”

Then, we watch two recent ads for TX governor: one for Greg Abbott and another for Wendy Davis. I ask the students, “As a student at UT-Austin, do you think either ad is meant to attract you? Why or why not?” Discuss what demographics each ad might appeal to and why. 

Suggestions for Instructor Preparation: 

You’ll want to preload ads and watch through pesky commercials before class. You might want to prepare a handout with questions. 

Instructions For Students: 

Answer the following questions after each video:

  1. Who’s this ad meant for? How do you know?
  2. Does this ad demonstrate good knowledge of audience?
  3. Who isn’t this ad meant for?
  4. How do you know?
  5. Might this ad backfire? Meaning, might this ad drive more voters away than it attracts? 

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