This lesson works best after students have had a period or two exploring the My Hero website and discussing how different types of heroes display similar attributes. Each slide of the Power Point can be used as a discussion starter. They are straight forward and self explanatory, and may be used singly as writing prompts or all together for a longer term project, as described below.
1. Begin the discussion by asking students to name a celebrity "hero". Then ask them to tell what attributes these celebrities exhibit that make them heroes. (PP slides #2 & 3) Some students will insist that an athlete is a hero because he helps his team win games or that a pop star is a hero because she has many adoring fans. While it is true that there are celebrities who do give back to their communities in many ways, in general we are focusing on true heroes who will remain in peoples' minds long after they have left this earth. This train of thought requires students to dig deeper in order to truly grasp what a hero is.
2. Next, discuss how popular celebrities are depicted in the media, and compare that to how heroes are depicted. This step may be done as a whole group or in small groups with a spokesperson sharing their recorded ideas with the class. This should lead into some lively discussion about celebrity branded products (see slides 4-9). Explain how consumers pay more for celebrity branded products because those celebrities must be paid by the company for the use of their names. Pose questions such as, "Might a woman believe she will be more beautiful if she uses Revlon makeup? After all, Halle Berry uses them and she is beautiful."
3. Slide #10 introduces James Pruett, a consumer sociologist. Discuss what his profession is all about (among other things, he tracks and interprets data about consumer response to celebrity branded products). Touch upon the fact that celebrities are often like quickly moving fads compared with heroes whose names and actions stick with us much longer. Pruett proposes that if we used heroes to brand products, then this might help the public change their perception of who our role models should be. He offers the idea of hero branded products with portions of the sales going to charity.
4. Slide #11 describes the hands-on activity. Students will choose a public hero, a product that "fits" him/her, and an appropriate charity. They must market the product to us using any manner they choose except a written paragraph.(However such a paragraph can certainly become a part of this project if kids are required to plan out their idea on paper before executing the hands-on portion.) The marketing can take the form of a magazine ad, a song, a skit, a sculpture of the product itself, any creative way to publicly present the product to an audience. Slide #12 gives examples of possible marketing ideas. For example, Michelle Obama's Health Bars will raise money for her Childrens Health Initiative; Van Gogh neckties (which display his artwork) raise money for the Alliance for the Mentally Ill, etc. You may need to allow for students to research heroes a bit more so they can match them with an appropriate product. This can be done via internet, books, films, etc. I find picture books to be wonderful resources for all ages because they give facts quickly and allow for the reader to "see" the author/illustrator's artistic interpretation of the hero. Emphasize how "real" advertisements grab our attention. This part of the lesson can be extended to include more exploration of the topic of advertisement/marketing, and thus more involved and elaborate product presentations
5. Finally, students present their creation to an audience. Allow for positive comments and questions from the audience.
6. Closure: How convincing and persuasive were the product presentations? How likely would you be to purchase a hero branded product as opposed to a celebrity branded product? What is the difference between a hero and a celebrity? Hopefully students will now be able to articulate that the bottom line is that heroes are defined by what they do for others.