Public service agencies, political organizations, and social issues groups all vie for our attention. They barrage us with "public service announcements," which astute readers come to recognize as a special kind of advertisement. Through such advertisements, these groups hope, for example, that we will save the rain forest with a donation, improve the status of women in third world countries, or sponsor an underprivileged child. To gain our attention and persuade us to act, these advertisements make special use of visual and verbal rhetoric. For our third paper, you are to choose a social issues advertisement--either of your own choice (with my approval) or from those listed below--and analyze how it succeeds in reaching its audience or fails to persuade the readers.
To prove your judgment, you will analyze the verbal and graphic components of the text: Aristotelian appeal, persuasive discourse, and artistic features. More than simply identifying these components, you will need to describe how these features advance or detract from the purpose of the advertisement.
Advertisements commonly rely upon the three appeals of Aristotelian rhetoric
to convey their message: logos, pathos, and ethos. Logos
pertains to the logic and structure of the argument itself, pathos
involves the emotion aroused in the reader/listener through the text
and image, and ethos concerns the fairness and/or credibility of the
advertiser/sponsor's character (as conveyed in the text and image). You
may also need to analyze word puns, alliteration, metaphor, repetition,
and other stylistic devices. Artistic design elements involve the
media (drawing, photography, etc.), layout, color, arrangement.
Although you will attach a copy of the advertisement to your paper, make sure to include sufficient, explicit descriptions of the advertisement and direct quotations, contextualized fully. Present enough specific information about the images so that the reader can understand your analysis of the persuasive appeal without looking at the advertisement. This paper should be approximately three typed pages.
This assignment will give you practice in
Advertisements for you to analyze
Visual Analysis Tips from the Art History Department
Questions to help you Analyze Paper Assignments