Rhetorical Strategies in Advertising

Updated April 20, 2022

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Rhetorical Strategies in Advertising essay

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Advertising is very important to businesses all over the world. The use of advertising makes ones business known and reaches customers from everywhere. A business gains more customers depending on if the advertisement’s argument is good enough. Advertisements are messages designed to induce a process of belief change, which is intended to flow through into action. We pay attention to advertisements, and attempt to make sense of them, what we are doing is making sense of them as instances of argumentation. The advertisement should be seen as an argument directed at an audience, convincing them to act in a certain way. Argumentation in advertising is based on assumptions that those they address are rational and will act rationally if convinced. Although visual imaging and advertisements use illogical rhetorical strategies to persuade the viewers to buy a product or change a behavior, these rhetorical methods would also be defined as argumentation because of how it argues on the behalf of the intended purpose.

Whether it be a product or a message, the argument is over why you should purchase this product or do what the message ask. There are different ways advertisements argue for their cause. The verbal messages of advertisements are the central focus in argumentation. Sometimes words are the one thing that gets a buyer to make a decision. The messages conveyed are to give us a reason to buy. The argument structure is one in which the advertisement provides information, which knowledge common to society, gives a good reason to buy. The phrases used have layers of meaning and can transform into an argument as simple as “just buy this product.” Visual images are another form of argumentation through the actions that can be favorable in the decision made to the advertisements favor. The sheer effectiveness of advertisements are memorable images, as semiotic signifiers, as music videos or film clips. Advertisements work by offering arguments to the potential customer with a simple structure. Every advertisement is trying to persuade arguments involves the central route of persuasion. By appealing to reason and relying on evidence it can persuade a viewer of a message. Viewers have to think through the message and are likely to respond with counterarguments. In the Street-Smart advertisement, “Kids don’t come with turn signals,” argues that kids don’t have turn signals on their body. This statement is true but what it is trying to argue is that because kids don’t come with turn signals you should be prepared for any turn that kid may make. This phrase is an imperative that comes with transformations of more familiar sentences. So, for Kids don’t come with turn signals, this translates to, don’t assume the turn they might make so that you don’t run them over and hurt them. This advertisement argues safer and better driving is something you should do. The visual shows a little girl with a tire mark across her face concluding that this girl has been ran over by a car. With this visual and the other phrase stating, “Slow down and watch for pedestrians,” relays a very clear argument for safer driving. The visual and verbal message argue that you should slow down and watch for pedestrians or you could make a young innocent child look like this.

Street Smart uses this advertisement to argue for pedestrians and young children who are in danger every day when a wild driver flies by putting their life in danger and fights to have safer drivers. In Reasons to Buy: The Logic of Advertisements, by Christina Slade she argues that arguments act on our subconscious, persuading without engaging the consumer rationally. Advertisements contain arguments which we can assess. The argument is that this process should not be regarded as irrational, and never unconscious.

It is argued that rhetorical strategies in visual is just manipulation in order to persuade and this is because of the most popular rhetoric device, pathos. Pathos is based off the emotions of viewers and this device is very powerful and is the often successful. The pathetic appeal grabs readers and leads them to decisions made off feelings and this may seem manipulating to some. Some advertisements are aiming to make a viewer sad. Sadness, guilt and feeling sorry for someone are ways of making someone donate or buy something. You see those dog pound commercials all the time asking to donate, while playing a video of sad dogs and sad music. This is an example of manipulating a viewer into donating by making the viewer feel sorry for the dogs. Ethos is the rhetoric appeal of credibility, when an audience views the rhetor as credible.

Advertisements often take professional athletes, movie stars, or someone who is very much looked up to and desired and hire them to promote their product. These people who you love and admire manipulate you into buying something or just agreeing with them because they say so. Athletic companies use professional athletes to advertise their product and most often if Michael Jordan, professional basketball player, is wearing Nike, viewers will want to wear Nike as well. If a well know actress like Angelie Jolie wears a certain lotion on her face, and she have a beautiful face, viewers seeking a beautiful face will feel as if they need that same lotion too.

These products may not even be good, they could be poorly made or not even work, and will still be bought because of the manipulation that takes place when these well credible people promote them. It’s said that rhetorical strategies are not truly argumentation because they aren’t accountable and are based off emotions and belief in something that may seem credible but not always is. Illogical strategies such as the use of logical fallacies in advertisements can be based on manipulation and confusion. The “slippery slope’ fallacies lead to what if often rather farfetched conclusions. The appeal to pity is another example that leads to agreement based on someone feeling sorry for another. These are examples of decisions made off of manipulation and not actual facts or reason. This is not concrete because the advertisers are turning the attention onto what it is they want and turning away the attention on what is logical and right. Rhetoric is language designed to have a persuasive or impressive effect on its audience, but often regarded as lacking sincerity or meaningful content. The use of the rhetorical strategies, such as pathos, when the rhetor attempts to persuade the audience by making them feel certain emotions, ethos, when the rhetor is perceived by the audience as credible or not, and logos, when the rhetor attempts to persuade the audience by the use of arguments that will perceive as logical.

Rhetoric methods are also argumentation because they both call for action from those it is directed to, change behavior and attitudes, purport to influence, and is always attended to persuade people to act as they might not act otherwise. Advertisements use rhetoric strategies with argumentation to force people to assimilate a message, then act on it. Street Smart argues safer driving with the pathos appeal, making viewers realize the pedestrians that are along the street they are speeding down and the danger they are causing. Although visual imaging and advertisements use illogical rhetorical strategies to persuade the viewers to buy a product or change a behavior, these rhetorical methods would also be defined as argumentation because of how it argues on the behalf of the intended purpose.

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Rhetorical Strategies in Advertising. (2022, Apr 20). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/rhetorical-strategies-in-advertising/


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