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Advert icebreaker

Can you sneak a message into a conversation without others knowing in this group icebreaker?

You will need

  • Scrap paper
  • Pens or pencils
  • Large bowl or container

Activity summary

This is a quick game you can play alongside another activity, game, or break. Everyone will try to sneak a certain word or topic into conversation without anyone else noticing, to help everyone think about how adverts or messages can influence people without them realising it.

 Before you begin

  • Why not use this activity as an introduction to Advert savvy to continue thinking about the different times we can be influenced during the day?
  • Make sure you've risk assessed your meeting, and also have a COVID-safe risk assessmentthat’s been agreed by your line manager. You can check out more detailed guidance here
  • Decide what you’ll do alongside the activity. You could run it during an icebreaker session, over a meal at camp, or during some downtime like a snack break. 
  • Write down different words or topics on pieces of scrap paper and put them into your container. You could include random objects, famous people, or even different foods! You’ll need a piece of paper for everyone in the group.

Safety checklist

Use the Safety checklist to help you plan and risk asses your activity. Additional coronavirus-related controls to think about may include:

  • Set up a handwashing station that you can use throughout the session.
  • Think about how you’ll hand out the scraps of paper or other equipment from a safe distance.
  • Remind everyone to stay at a safe distance.

Run the activity

  1. Everyone should take it in turns to take a scrap of paper and read their word. They should make sure that no one else sees what their word or topic is.
  1. Everyone should get stuck into the other activity. At the same time, they should talk to as many different people as possible about their word or topic. They should try to be sneaky so that other people don’t notice what their word or topic is. 
  2. After around 10 minutes (or whenever they finish their main activity or meal) everyone should gather in a circle. Can anyone guess what someone else’s word was?
  3. Everyone should take it in turns to guess until they’ve figured out everyone’s words. Congratulate anyone who managed to get their word into conversation without anyone noticing!
  4. The person leading the activity should finish by explaining that this is like adverts we see every day – sometimes you get messages from seeing or hearing adverts without realising it! Can anyone think of any adverts they’ve seen or heard today on posters, TV, the internet or the radio?


What did people think about this activity? Was it easy to figure out the secret words or topics other people were trying to sneak into the conversation? See how many people couldn’t guess, or managed to sneak in words that others didn’t notice.

Sometimes adverts can be like this. People see or hear messages about products or events every day, and sometimes they don’t even realise it. Think together about some of the adverts you might have seen or heard during the day, then finish the session by spending a few minutes thinking of some different ways you could be more aware of the adverts and messages you see. Can people come up with some ways to help each other decide which ones to pay attention to and which to try and ignore?


All activities must be safely managed. Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Do a risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Always get approval for the activity and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.