The $5 off coupon and the large percentage reductions provide good examples of media literacy and its relevance to everyday living. Increasingly we see coupons for saving money at the various stores. One such one is Bed Bath & Beyond. The coupon says “$5 off any purchase of $15 or more.” Not a bad deal or so you’d think. Then, at the bottom of the ad, in very small print—print most people would need glasses to read—is a list of exclusions—in this case, over 40. And here is an ad for Michaels—40% off any one regular price item—followed by a list of exclusions in print too small to read. And then there’s Macy’s—15% off in large letters, followed by a list of exclusions—again, in small print.
So, what’s the idea? Well, it seems to me (and I could be wrong) that at last part of the idea is to have you read the big print, select the items to be purchased, present the coupon, and then be told that this item is excluded from the $5 offer, the 40% discount, or the 15% off. Then, what do you do? You can hold up the line and argue? Go back for a similar product that is covered? Refuse to purchase the item? Most likely, you’ll just buy it without the discount. I think the media literacy lesson here is: Expect to be fooled. Look at how an ad, any ad, is trying to fool you. Chances are it’s doing exactly that.