New World Colonist Recruitment Infomercial

This lesson can be used with The United States: An Open Ended History, a free online textbook.  Adapted in part from open sources.

Each settlement in colonial America had its own identity and reason for being, whether that reason was economic, religious, or social, or some blend of the three – and they were all usually intensely competitive with their neighbors in these aims. Imagine that you are a representative from what we would today call that colony’s “Welcome Center,” trying to attract new settlers. These didn’t exist in the 1600s, per se, but if they did, what kind of ad campaign might they have created to lure settlers to their colony?

Create a comprehensive, informational commercial. You can act it out or record it and play it back.

You are responsible for creating a factually robust and informative presentation – that is also persuasive.  It may be filmed, but only if your recorded volume is loud enough for the class to hear and understand.  It may also be performed live.  Be sure to illustrate each segment with stimulating visuals.

Students should also be creative in their commercial while remaining historically accurate. 

Your commercial should be between one and two minutes in length.

The following features must be in the commercial—

  1. Map of your colony circa the 17th century
  2. Geography: description of land, sights, and climate
  3. People that settlers will encounter
  4. Occupations: How will settlers support themselves? What kind of work will they find?
  5. Mentions of history: When and why was the colony founded? (up to about 1700)
  6. Food: What will the travelers eat? What foods are native to the area?
  7. Transportation: How will the travelers get to the colony? How will they travel around the colony?  What are the major transportation routes and hubs in your colony?
  8. Religion: What churches have been established in the colony, or what are the practices of the indigenous people?  What religious groups are banned?
  9. Persuasion: Be sure to encourage settlers to travel and stay in the colony – why here and not a different colony?

Use at least one of the following…  The seven most common techniques of propaganda used in advertising:

  • Testimonial – The ever-popular celebrity endorsement.
  • Glittering Generalities – Praise and positive words that are hard to measure or quantify – think “best,” “great,” “I’m lovin’ it.”
  • Transfer – The qualities of the product transfer to the consumer – think of a sports car or soda commercial.  You, too, can be cool, if you have the right cell phone.
  • Plain Folks – An appeal to values, working class, family, nationalism, thrift – “Made in America,” “fair trade,” “real men,” or “the best value for your dollar.”
  • Bandwagon – Everybody’s doing it – don’t be left out or left behind!
  • Name Calling – Trash talking or put downs toward the competition.
  • Card Stacking – The omission of inconvenient or unflattering facts about your own product; the emphasis of those same kind of facts when talking about competing products.

For inspiration (see if you can spot the techniques listed above in action): 

Hawaii Chair.

Americans will buy ANYTHING 4! Top 10 Worst Infomercials.

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