Rhetorical Strategies in Advertisment of Under Armour

Updated April 26, 2022

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Rhetorical Strategies in Advertisment of Under Armour essay

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Under Armour is a famous American sportswear and footwear brand suited for competitive athletes, and “Will finds a way” is its 2018 global campaign that wants to exalt the value of determination, hard work, and resilience in the daily workouts. The narrator and spirit of the 2018 commercial is Dwayne Johnson, a football player and WWE wrestler who has become a Hollywood actor after a severe injury. At the beginning of the commercial, he introduces the stories of six trailblazing athletes. First is the world champion sprinter Natasha Hastings, then the state boxing & gymnastics champion Javon ‘Wanna’ Walton, and following are: the Olympic swimmer Yusra Mardini, the triathlete Johnny Agar, the taekwondo national champion Zoe Zhang, and the NBA player Dennis Smith Jr. Eventually, Johnson will also narrate his own story of how he picked up his life after finding himself with literally only seven dollars.

What Johnson and the other athletes have in common is their passion for sports. They all had to overcome many obstacles in their lives and work hard to reach their goals, and it is exactly by appealing to the emotions of the audience that this commercial wants to convince people that Under Armour is the best brand for working out. Anyways, the purpose of the commercial is not only to make people buy Under Armour for their physical activities, but by using a potent amount of pathos it also wants to appeal to people’s feeling that everything is possible, it wants to challenge the world to push beyond their physical and mental boundaries to make the best of themselves. This campaign is one of the most successful examples of how a commercial can make people change their minds and pick up their own lives only by appealing to their emotions, namely by using pathos. Besides the emotional appeal, there are two other fundamental Aristotelian appeals that can make a commercial successful: ethos and logos. The argument may be heavier in pathos over the other two; however, it will still contain some ethos, while it will almost completely lack in logos.

Pathos is the Greek word for both “suffering” and “experience”, with the main purpose to persuade the audience by appealing to their emotions. According to Ben Bernanke, authors use pathos to invoke sympathy from an audience; to make the audience feel what the author wants them to feel. In this commercial hard work, pain, and winning are what connects all the seven athletes, but pathos comes in especially when Johnson introduces Yusra Mardini and Johnny Agar, and it wants to appeal to the sense of compassion of the audience. Yusra had nothing, she is a war refugee from Syria; but with her hard work she went to compete as a swimmer with the Refugee Olympic Team, and continues to train to meet her next goal: winning the 2020 Olympics. Johnny Agar faces unimaginable daily challenges instead; with cerebral palsy he completely lost the basic life skills ability, like walking or eating, but he gets up every morning to train and practice for his triathlon competition. He ignores the doubt of his own body and strives to push beyond his physical limits with pure emotional strength. Anyways, according to Cisior, Dwayne Johnson is the real spirit of this campaign. Johnson uses his life as an example to this testament; by sharing examples of beating all odds and becoming the person he is using pathos to appeal to the sense that everyone can do it, everyone can become the hardest worker in the room. The last words of Dwayne Johnson “How did I get here? By being the hardest worker in the room. How are you gonna get here?” spark inspiration in the audience. People see this commercial and realize that by suiting up in this Under Armour gear, they can get motivated and reach they athletic and fitness goals. It makes people believe they can use this product, work hard, and achieve greatness.

The word “ethos” comes from the ancient Greek language, and it is commonly translated as “credibility”. It is an appeal to ethics, with the main purpose of convincing the audience about the trustability of the source. Still according to Ben Bernanke, ethos can be developed by choosing language that is appropriate for the audience and the topic, making yourself sound fair or unbiased, introducing your accomplishments or pedigree, and by using correct grammar and syntax. In the Under Armour commercial ethos is given by the fact that real national champions are shown; champions who have experience and knowledge in the field, and who are wearing Under Armour clothes. Also, every article of clothing that is being worn has the brand name in a conspicuous place, so that the audience can see it clearly. Every American knows at least one of those people, and the idea that they use Under Armour during their workouts and competitions suggests to the audience that Under Armour is not only the best workout wear around, but it is also the brand that brings people to success. At the same time, most of the faces and stories will likely be new to the audience, and the fact that the athletes are not as known as the ones involved in previous commercials (e.g. Michael Phelps, Tom Brady, Stephen Curry…) makes the public feel closer to them. The audience will believe that they don’t need to be rich and famous to become successful, people will realize that even people from the humblest origins can make it.

Logos is the Greek word for “word”, it is the appeal to logic, and it means to convince an audience by use of logic or reason.

As Ben Bernanke states, to use logos would be to cite facts and statistics, historical and literal analogies, and citing certain authorities on a subject. In the Under Armour campaign there is a lack of logos, id est the commercial has almost no logic. The only thing that appeals to the logic of the audience is that real action shots are shown, making people believe in what Johnson and the athletes are saying.

According to AdAge.com Under Armour’s new marketing campaign wants to find new revenue outside its longtime focus North America. Therefore, the campaign mainly runs in Asia and in Europe, and this is why this commercial aired in April of 2018, prior to the 2018 soccer world cup. During this time the world cup was a common and popular topic, and many people were discussing it especially in Asia and in Europe. In addition, during the time previous the world soccer cup, many children in Europe usually decide to start playing soccer, making it a perfect time for a sportswear brand to promote their products. Also, this commercial aired in the spring, the most common time for individuals who want to work out and get their “summer bodies” in shape. Consequently, the perfect audience for this advertisement is formed by those who are planning on starting a new sport or starting to workout, but it is also a good commercial for those who already are involved in sports and aim high.

Ethos, logos, and pathos are the essential ingredients to a good advertisement, but the 2018 Under Armour commercial shows how valid and convincing advertisements can be even without the use of all three Aristotelian appeals. This campaign is the perfect example of how logos is not necessary when there are strong pathos and ethos.


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  4. Pasquarelli A. (April 19, 2018). THE ROCK IS UNDER ARMOUR’S ‘MOTIVATOR TO THE MASSES’ IN GLOBAL-MINDED CAMPAIGN. Retrieved on January 23rd, 2019 from https://adage.com/creativity/work/will-finds-way/54351
  5. Torideluise. (March 11, 2013). Under Armour advertisement. Retrieved on January 23rd, 2019, from https://torideluise.wordpress.com/2013/03/11/under-armour-advertisement/
  6. Under Armour. (April 17, 2018). Will finds a way. Retrieved on January 23rd, 2019, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96vdf8uxQnY&list=PLC5tgvuNxfsIR_sNP__GGLvgt9BmKD9wN&index=1
  7. Under Armour. (April 19, 2018). Under Armour And Dwayne Johnson Challenge You To Answer ‘How Are You Going To Get Here?’ In New Global Training Campaign. Retrieved on January 23rd, 2019, from https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/under-armour-and-dwayne-johnson-challenge-you-to-answer-how-are-you-going-to-get-here-in-new-global-training-campaign-300632921.html
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Rhetorical Strategies in Advertisment of Under Armour. (2022, Apr 26). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/rhetorical-strategies-in-advertisment-of-under-armour/


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