Extra Credit #1:
The Seven Deadly Sins and Seven Virtues in Advertising

Robert Harris
Version Date: July 21, 2000

Background Information

Whether advertising reflects cultural values, shapes them, or both, many people have often pointed out that a substantial number of advertisements present values and goals that are in conflict with traditional values. One place where traditional values are embodied is in the Seven Deadly Sins and the Seven Virtues. As you can see by the examples below, many advertisements have reversed traditional values by recommending the indulgence of the Seven Deadly Sins and by recommending the opposite of the Seven Virtues.
The Seven Deadly Sins
The Sin
Traditional Saying
Modern Advertisement
Pride Pride goes before a fall You deserve it; have it your way; you are unique; we do it all for you
Anger Don't let the sun go down on your anger Get revenge, kick some butt
Avarice Don't be greedy Get rich quick; stock up now; collect them all
Gluttony Stop eating while you are still hungry All you can eat; indulge yourself
Lust Chastity is a virtue Get lucky
Envy Envy is a green-eyed monster You'll be the envy of your friends; don't be left out
Sloth The early bird gets the worm Pretend you're working

The Seven Virtues
The Virtue
Traditional Saying
Modern Advertisement
Prudence Look before you leap, study to be wise Just do it; why wait; act now
Temperance Moderation in all things Too much is not enough; get all you can
Justice Do unto others as you would have them do unto you Look out for number one; get them before they get you; crush the competition
Fortitude Be brave, courage is noble It's not my fault; call us and sue
Faith Faith is the evidence of things not seen; have faith in God You can believe in this product; believe only in yourself
Hope God holds the future Live for today; hurry before it's too late; get it while you can
Charity Love your neighbor as yourself Charity begins at home


For this assignment, find a total of fourteen magazine advertisements, seven that promote one of each of the Seven Deadly Sins and seven that promote the opposite of one of each of the Seven Virtues. Create a notebook (either with sheet protectors or a presentation book), which presents the advertisement on the right side and on the left side a printed page with the sin named and a sentence or two description of how the advertisement promotes the sin or the opposite of the virtue. As an option, add appropriate Biblical texts relating to the sin or virtue. Note that the idea promotion may appear in the form of claims (words), pictures, or association (between words and pictures, for example). Be sure you include a title page and check spelling and grammar carefully.

(maximum extra credit: 15 points)

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About the author:
Robert Harris is a writer and educator with more than 25 years of teaching experience at the college and university level. RHarris at virtualsalt.com