“The average American sees 3,000 commercials messages a day and more than 2 million of them by the time he or she is age 25.” (Bassham, 442) Wow! What time is it? Are you aware of how many you have already seen today in print, on TV, on the internet, on billboards, etc? “George Gebner, former dean of the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenbergy School of Communications, calls television the ‘contemporary myth maker’ …… A myth… is a story that teaches, explains, and justifies the practices and institutions of a given society to the people in the society. Myths deal with our deepest hopes and fears and have a profound influence on the way we see the world and ourselves.” (443) Sometimes we dismiss ads as annoying and silly. However, they obviously work or companies would not invest so heavily in them.
As you study the common advertising ploys in the text, listen to the arguments they are telling. This short video lesson on advertising focuses on several of the ploys in your text. The video was made in the late 1990s, but the strategies are the same today. Listen for the ploys of ‘Emotive Words’, ‘Weasel Words’, ‘Fine-Print Disclaimers’, and ‘Puffery’. They don’t use those exact terms, but the concepts are the same. This should help you analyze an ad for the discussion.
Either in print (magazine/newspaper), video (TV/internet) or audio (radio) look at an advertisement. Review the advertising ploys presented in Chapter 14. In your opening entry, complete the following:
- Describe the advertisement precisely and clearly. Give where you found the ad and the name of the product or service being advertised. Include a short description of the images and any text in the ad. Be specific as you describe colors, images, voices, product placement, font types used for text, etc.
- Write out the argument implicit in the ad (premises and conclusion). Identify premises with a P and the conclusion with a C. Remember that an advertisement is an argument for a particular product or service. The ad designers are trying to convince you to buy the product or service through motivation and information. What are the claims being made in this argument? The thesis or final conclusion will be something like this: You should drink Coke. Once you have determined the thesis, look for the claims the ad makes to try to convince you to drink Coke. The claims are the reasons that support the thesis or conclusion. Write out the claims and the thesis for your chosen ad.
- Identify what advertising ploy is used by the ad and explain why you chose this ploy. Also note any logical fallacies in the argument. Remember barriers to critical thinking in Chapter 1. Review egocentrism and sociocentrism and include any examples of these in your ad.
- Explain how the advertisement could be modified to create a logically sound argument in support of the product or service.