Advertising as a marketing tool

According to the Nielsen group, the body that measures television viewing, by the end of a high school student’s education they will have spent over 18,000 hours watching television. By contrast, the same student will have spent a mere 10,800 hours in school. Those twelve years are arguably the most impressionable in a young person’s life; in this same time a person will be bombarded with some 3,000 advertisements per day (“The Merchants of Cool”).

These ads, both obvious and hidden, during those 18,000 hours must have some real, measurable effects. And that’s just the measurement of TV watching. This does not include radio, billboards, newspapers, magazines, internet pop-ups, google and gmail ads, flyers, pre-show ads for films, movie trailers, t-shirts, telemarketers, etc. Ads are everywhere, and their persuasive skills are unmatched.

It is a major goal of this assignment for you to find an advertisement and analyze the language and images in order to understand how these elements are used to put forth an implicit argument. You will likely need some background information to provide a context for your analysis–this could be for either your ad or a technique it utilizes. For this reason, you are required to incorporate two sources other than your ad for this essay. Either provide a copy the image (if it is a print ad) or provide a link (if it is a television ad) in your paper.

While you are not restricted in the form of advertisement, your choice should be complex enough so as to have something to analyze. You may find that political ads and fast food commercials are equally dissectible, whereas a local auto dealer commercial may lack serious rhetorical motivations. Consider the following questions:

What is the ad explicitly selling? Implicitly? To whom?

Is there a specific setting, location or time, utilized?

Are there slogans, mascots, or recognizable people in the ad? What effect do they have?

Is the ad part of an overall campaign? Does this affect your advertisement?

Who is the audience? Is it different than the demographic aimed at by the company?


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