Producing Consumers Essay

By Bill Bigelow

The video The Ad and the Ego is a kind of cultural psychoanalysis —it uses advertising to ask important questions about our society.

Write an essay on an aspect covered in the video. Some questions you might address:

  • What kind of people do ads try to “produce”? How do advertisers try to produce men and women differently?
  • What is the relationship between consumption and some of the problems we’ve looked at in the rest of the world? Sweatshop workers, the Huaorani, the Ladakhis, the Inuit, etc.?
  • How are you personally affected by ads?
  • What do ads teach us about the meaning of life? What is the story of happiness and fulfillment that ads tell?
  • What can be done to “make a difference” in transforming consumer culture?
  • Is the culture of consumption environmentally sustainable? Can we continue “producing” consumers here and in other countries? And, if not, what social changes need to occur?

Basic Essay checklist (attach this sheet to your essay when you turn it in)

_____ Clever, inviting title

_____ Engaging, imaginative introduction

_____ Important, clear thesis. Write thesis statement here:

_____ Different kinds of evidence (e.g., quotes from the films, quotes from articles, examples from your own life, examples from history, examples from contemporary society, etc.)

_____ At least two quotes used as evidence

_____ Thesis is convincingly “proved”/demonstrated

_____ Strong conclusion [summarizes, ties back to your introduction, raises further questions, etc.]

_____ Typed or in ink, legibly written or printed

_____ No major errors in punctuation, grammar, spelling, paragraphing

[Note: This handout is available at Rethinking Schools Online ( should you want to adapt it for your classes.]