To prove that a commercial, a piece of persuasion, is, in fact, effective to its target audience.
To begin with, persuasion has a simple definition. It is an act that makes people believe in something or do something. Certainly, it does not mean that persuasion forces people to do what they do not want. Firstly, persuasion makes people think over if they are interested in this or that thing or topic. Then, persuasion allows people to make their choice and, finally, effective persuasion achieves its goal when people feel certain that they like the object of persuasion and they are ready to consent to it and use it for their own benefit.
It goes without saying that a commercial should be persuasive because the main aim of it is not only to inform the audience about a new product but also to convince that this product should be purchased, So, it is impossible to imagine a commercial without persuasion. To be effective, a commercial should, first of all, attract consumers' attention. In addition to this, the strengths of the advertisement consist in persuasive arguments that are used to influence the public. Persuasive advertising should contain certain rhetorical devices that will help to have a necessary influence on the audience. Therefore, advertising is full of rhetorical devices such as appeals: logos, pathos, ethos including identification, and gaze. There are different ways to persuade the audience using rhetorical figures. The main point of this research paper is to review the main principals of persuasive advertising, to analyze them, to define what methods of persuasion are used in a chosen commercial and to prove that the methods applied in the commercial make it effective to its target audience.
A commercial is a piece of persuasion. That is why it is relevant to consider it as a part of persuasive speech.
The art of persuasion has its own rules. The general ones are the following:
Persuasive speech should be interesting and captivating
People always need time to be persuaded
A speaker should keep in mind its target audience
The context of persuasion should be acceptable.
As Aristotle claimed, three main components of a persuasive speech are subject, speaker and audience. The speaker is the main figure who is able to establish relationships between these components. The speaker may engage the audience applying various techniques. The first one is an image. Sometimes what people see is more significant than what people hear. Therefore, a persuasive speech should be supported with images that have a potential to persuade. The second technique is the speakers voice. It is important to pay attention to the tone. A persuasive speech should not be monotonous. When the customer hears an advertisement, the speakers tone may captivate his attention. Moreover, when this voice is recognizable, it will certainly focus the publics attention. The third technique is an attractive context of the presented information. It must be effective to tell the truth to the audience. It may be useful to show the advertised product from positive and negative sides to win the publics confidence. A good commercial should deliver useful and captivating information. This means that the context should not only be acceptable but also fascinating and sometimes intriguing. As for the speaker, his credibility is also extremely important because people often purchase things that famous people advertise. They believe that if a famous star uses this thing, it may become useful and indispensable in every family (Blair, Almjeld and Murphy).
It is hard to master the art of creating effective advertisements. However, advertisers maintain that there are certain methods to make a commercial be successful. Firstly, a commercial should be visual. Visual content proved to be more engaging. It is also significant to create an appealing visual image to catch the public eye. It does not matter the type of the product that is advertised. The most important thing is to grab the attention of the potential customer with the help of this visual image. Secondly, the relevance of the commercial also makes sense. If it does not motivate the audience to make a click or simply to arrest the publics' attention, it is considered to be irrelevant. Furthermore, an effective commercial should contain valuable arguments. A potential customer should understand why this product is useful and how it differs from others. He should learn the needed information about it and have a desire to learn more using the company's website that is included in the advertisement. In addition to this, an advertisement should direct the customer. After watching a commercial, the customer should understand what steps to take to buy this product (Bernard and Ehrenberg).
However, researchers argue about the question what constitutes the most significant part of an effective commercial. Some critics maintain the idea that it is target audience while others state that repetition plays an important role in advertising.
In his book Persuasion in Advertising, O'Shaughnessy states that the task of persuasion is to understand its target audience. The author mentions: The success of commercials relates to the source visibility, credibility, and attractiveness, Credibility is tied to projected expertise and trustworthiness while attractiveness is tied to values projected that evoke the sense of sharing. This means that advertisements that accept the publics' values will certainly receive its attention (O'Shaughnessy and O'Shaughnessy).
The target audience can be divided into two groups. The first group is represented by the customers who already use the products that a company sells and the second group is the individuals who hesitate whether to buy this product or not. The aim of a persuasive commercial is to motivate the second group to make their buying decision and finally purchase the product. To understand an essential difference between two groups, it is useful to provide an example. The target audience of the commercial that advertise toys is children. Nevertheless, when children see this advertisement, they ask their parents to buy it. So, parents belong to the second group of the target audience, Thus, one advertisement attracts two groups at the same time.
Schudson supports the idea that all commercials are rather simple. Their power consists in repetition than in transmission of values. The task of the advertisement is not to show the product but to promote its consumption. Therefore, the commercial sends the message to the customer: buy me and you will be happy and enjoy this life. The author believes that constant repetition of this message stimulates the customer to make a purchase (Schudson).
There is also a third opinion which claims that it is necessary to choose an appropriate media for the commercial to make it effective. An advertiser should pay attention to the source of information to reach the audience. Analyzing the target audience, it is easier to choose the media. Moreover, the source should be used with useful appeals that will logically and emotionally motivate the audience to buy the product (Mott).
All in all, every advertiser uses his own ways of persuasion to make his commercial successful and effective. There was chosen a commercial that is called Empowering produced by Microsoft for this paper.
Microsoft Super Bowl Commercial that was created in 2014 provides the viewer with the story about positive changes that may affect the life of every person while using technologies. The advertisement attracts the audience displaying various ways how contemporary technologies improve the life of the whole society. The commercial lasts only one minute but it gives multiple examples that show technologies in a beneficial way. The commercial provides the answers to the questions: What is technology? What they do for us How they unite us? The main hero of the commercial is Steve Gleason. The audience may see him only at the beginning and at the end of the advertisement but his mechanical voice is heard during the whole minute. To let the public understand what technology is, the commercial shows a student who tries to program a video game, a little girl who plays with a pinwheel, a doctor who applies them in his work and a robot that moves its head and looks straightly into the viewers eyes. The next chain of stories answers the question what people can do with these technologies. Again the public can see a true story from the life of a kid who has prosthetic legs and with the help of new technologies may move and the story of an old man who has lost his eyesight and was not able to paint but now paints with the help of his computer. The last series of stories displays the ways how technologies unite us: a little girl meets her father making a video call, a soldier who is present at his childbirth using video chat and a large group of schoolchildren who appeared on the screen to greet another group using Skype. Finally, Gleasons voice states that technology is capable of giving hope to hopeless. After that, the viewer can watch how technical devices help handicapped people. The word hope is highlighted to underline its significance. Technologies can give voice to voiceless. The word voice is also highlighted to demonstrate that technologies are a connecting link between the hope and voice. The commercial finishes with the words on the screen that Steve Gleason is a former football player who lives with ALS and then the words Empowering us all and Microsoft logo and its website. This commercial was chosen for this research paper because it is considered to be effective and powerful. It includes many rhetorical devices to do this advertisement persuasive. It appeals to the publics emotions, logic and states its credibility (Microsoft).
So, the first step of the rhetorical analysis of this commercial is to define logos, ethos, and pathos of this advertisement. Microsoft commercial is extremely exciting and captivating. While watching it for the first time, it impacts greatly human emotions. Happiness, joy, and hope fill people who watch it. Sometimes, these emotions even blind people and deprive them of logical thinking. Nevertheless, it is important to discuss all ways of persuasion that are used to make this commercial effective.
As for logos, the events in the commercial are presented in logical order. Every question has its answer and the creator of this advertisement uses reliable proofs to convince that technology is a great way to facilitate the life of many people. Step by step, the commercial provides details to appeal to the publics sense. Thinking logically the audience begins to understand that technologies are extremely helpful and specifically Microsoft devices are the best one because they gradually become an essential part of human life.
To enhance the credibility of this commercial advertisers use ethos. The main participant of this advertisement is Steve Gleason. People who are familiar with football know exactly that he played football before but know suffers from a terrible disease which is called ALS. This illness affects his voice, therefore, advertisers used their technologies to create a mechanical voice that is nearly the same as his own. Firstly, it may seem strange that a football player may become an authority in the field of technologies. However, when people watch this commercial to the end, they receive evidence that technologies helped not only Steve Gleason to regain voice but also other people no matter they are healthy or not. With the help of new technologies, they lead a normal and comfortable way of life. So, Gleason plays the role of a mediator between technologies and human wellbeing.
In addition to logos and ethos, the creators of the advertisement paid much attention to the pathos. Providing appropriate true-to-life stories, this advertisement also appeals to the publics emotions. The audience will not deny an overwhelming sense of happiness when they see how technologies unite people and even help to share the most touching but at the same time important moments of human life. Thus, this commercial skillfully appeals to human logic and human emotions that make people believe in the power of technologies and purchase products produced by Microsoft Corporation. Enhancing the publics emotions, this advertisement motivates people not to be critical. The majority of the researchers support the idea that what people see is more significant than what people hear. To make people feel certain emotions, it is important to know the audience: their values and beliefs. In his book Persuasion in Advertising, O'Shaughnessy states that the task of persuasion is to understand its target audience. The author mentions: The success of commercials relates to the source visibility, credibility, and attractiveness. Credibility is tied to projected expertise and trustworthiness while attractiveness is tied to values projected that evoke the sense of sharing. This means that advertisements that accept the publics values will certainly receive its attention (O'Shaughnessy and O'Shaughnessy). Therefore, a persuasive advertisement like this is supported with images and true stories that have the aim to persuade. By turn, Percy maintains: An advert must take specific attributes, characteristics, or emotions and link them to a brand in such a way that it is seen as uniquely satisfying their motive (Percy, Rossiter and Elliott 184). Thus, he supports the idea that not only values and beliefs should be kept in mind but also the advertisers should correctly communicate the benefits of the product to the target audience.
The next way that helps this advertisement persuade the public is identification. Identification is used to make the audience feel empathy for the character of the commercial. People often like characters that are presented in advertisements. Being only a football player, Gleason may not excite a splash of emotions but the fact that he does not feel shy to show himself sitting in the wheelchair and demonstrating how technologies facilitate his life and the life of others make the audience not only sympathize with his predicament but also like him. So, advertisers made a good step to present him in this commercial because one part of the target audience is football fans who liked him while watching football matches before. Another part of the audience may like him because he showed how technologies work by personal example. All in all, when the commercial presents a famous character who people like and respect, they become blind and believe easily in what he says and demonstrates. So, it will certainly allow the audience to accept the product that is advertised.
The final way to influence the audience that is widely used in advertising is gaze. It should be mentioned that the main character does not stare at the audience. People may only see his eyes that look at the screen of his monitor. The audience who watch this advertisement is deprived of the opportunity to see how people who are engaged in it look at people who watch it. Nevertheless, it is extremely important to understand how the public looks at this commercial. As the advertisement is exciting and engaging, the audience may have a desire to be at the place of other participants when they show how to use these technologies and the way how they join people. Furthermore, the whole commercial is shown through the male gaze. It is often considered that the man is authority, especially, in the questions that refer to the selection of good technologies. Therefore, the target audience believes easily what this man says and considers his opinion while choosing what devices to purchase (Paterson and Elliot).
This commercial also uses objectifying gaze. People often turn images that they see in advertisements into objects that are defined by their youth. Popular celebrities, especially, athletes that are engaged in commercials make the audience want to see this advertisement. When sportsmen are popular, young, play well, people have a desire to see them. So, when the public sees Steve Gleason on TV, they do not turn it over or switch the TV channel. The use of normalizing gaze also makes this advertisement effective. This commercial demonst...
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