Advertisements and commercials can be entertaining, educational, heart wrenching, and hilarious. Ultimately though, the goal is to grab your attention, tell you about the product, and get you to part with your hard-earned cash in exchange for whatever they’re selling — as efficiently as possible.
In this improv game, students are tasked with improvising an advertisement for a product. It’s challenging because it’s an individual performance exercise, but it has clear parameters to follow, which can help students figure out what to do in the moment. Feel free to print out the requirements (found in the giveaway below) and post them so students know the structure they need to follow.
1. Pre-game prep: Ask your students to identify commercials or advertisements that they like or find memorable. You also may wish to have a selection of ad videos to show students. What makes the commercials memorable? What makes them effective (or ineffective) and why? If money were no object, would you buy that item based on the commercial?
2. Have students brainstorm a list of products to sell. Pretty much anything goes! Here are 10 ideas to get you started: toothpaste, pack of crayons, scuba wetsuit, garbage can, beard trimmer, twelve-pack of tube socks, lunchbox, ice skates, video game system, paper towels.
Try to avoid items with established brand names, or at least refer to them as their generic item name (for example, use the non-specific phrase “adhesive strip” or “bandage” instead of Band-Aid).
3. Select a student to begin. Have them stand at the front of the room. Give that student a product to sell in an improvised commercial, or write the products on slips of paper and draw them out of a bag or hat.
4. The student must include the following information in their commercial:
Students may present their commercial in any tone they wish: sales-y, comedic, emotional, as a song and dance, as a celebrity endorsement, and so on.
There is no time limit, but students should attempt to be as efficient as possible in their delivery. Feel free to cut off students if you think they’re milking their stage time!
5. Once the student has improvised all the required information, they are done! Select a new student to perform. Continue until time runs out or everyone has performed.
If your students are pros at the basic commercial improvisation, try these challenge modes!