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Advert icebreaker

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

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You’ll 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

  • Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Additional help to carry out your risk assessment, including examples can be found here. Don’t forget to make sure all young people and adults involved in the activity know how to take part safely.
  • Make sure you’ll have enough adult helpers. You may need some parents and carers to help if you’re short on helpers.

Prepare for the activity

  • 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?
  • 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.

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. If anyone needs help reading their word (or understanding its meaning), they can ask the person leading the game or a young leader.
  2. 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. 
  3. After around 10 minutes (or whenever they finish their main activity), everyone should gather in a circle. Can anyone guess what someone else’s word was?
  4. 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!
  5. Explain that this's like the 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. 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. You must complete a thorough risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Always get approval for the activity, and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.

  • Change the words or phrases you use in the game. The more specific or weird they are, the harder it’ll be to drop them into conversation without the other people knowing.
  • Think about the activity everyone will be doing while they complete the challenge. It might be easier to set it over a meal time or break, so that everyone has plenty of chances to chat.

Choose topics or words that everyone in the group knows. People could work in pairs if they’d be more comfortable chatting to others that way.

All Scout activities should be inclusive and accessible.

Check out Advert savvy to think some more about the different times we might see adverts in our daily lives. You could take a look at more money skills activities.