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Rhetorical Situations in Super Bowl Advertisements

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Victoria Ashford

on 14 November 2013

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Transcript of Rhetorical Situations in Super Bowl Advertisements

Works Cited
Chrysler. "Chrysler Eminem Super Bowl Commercial- Imported From Detroit". YouTube. 2011. Web. 8 Nov 2013. <http://youtu.be/SKL254Y_jtc>
Grant-Davie, Keith. "Rhetorical Situation and Their Constituent". Rhetoric Review, Vol. 15, No. 2. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1997. pp. 266-279.
Hirschberg, Stuart. "The Rhetoric of Advertising." n.p. n.d. 227-234. Web 13 Nov 2013. <
"Language of Persuasion". Media Literacy Project. Web. 8 Nov 2013. <http://medialiteracyproject.org/language-persuasion>
Mercedes-Benz. "Mercedes-Benz 2013 Super Bowl Commercial (Extended Cut): 'Soul'". YouTube. 2013. Web. 8 Nov 2013. <http://youtu.be/XfJr_i1CtBc>
Miller, Arthur B. "Rhetorical Exigence". Philosophy & Rhetoric 5.2 (1982): 111-18. JSTOR. Web. 8 Nov 2013. <http://jstor.org/stable/40236794>
"Persuasive Techniques in Advertising". Read Write Think. Web. 8 Nov 2013. <http://www.readwritethink.org/files/resources/lesson_images/lesson1166/PersuasiveTechniques.pdf>
Rhetorical Situations in Super Bowl Advertisements
Aspects in the Rhetorical Situation
Exigence- "An imperfection marked by urgency" (Miller 111). This can mean in an advertisement, it creates an urgent need or demand for a product to the audience.
Audience- This can mean intended or unintended audience. the intended audience is that of which the advertiser is trying to persuade and wants to target the advertisement at. On the other hand, the unintended audience is that of which the advertiser is not trying to target. However, there is always a possibility of the unintended audience still viewing the advertisement being portrayed.
Constraints- This is defined as "all factors in the situation, aside from the rhetor and the audience, that may lead the audience to be either more or less sympathetic to the discourse, and that may therefore influence the rhetor's response to the situation" (Grant-Davie 273). These are basically limitations on the rhetor such as what can be said.
Pathos- This is an appeal to emotion. Emotional appeal is used in advertising to evoke emotional responses in an audience such as happiness, pain, or fear. This causes the audience to identify with the argument the advertisement is making.
Logos- This is an appeal using logic or reason. For example, an advertisement may use statistics to portray that their product is better than the competitors. This gives the audience the knowledge about what the product does and why they may need it.
Ethos- This is appeal to credibility. This means that when an advertisement uses ethos, it will convince the audience that it is more reliable and credible, therefore making it a better product to buy.
The audience is the American public, man or woman. This ad worked extremely well for the Super Bowl because Chrysler obviously wanted to get as many people to see this as possible. The Super Bowl is the number one program that most Americans are watching on a given day so advertising this then was a great decision.
The constraints of this ad was that using Eminem may make some of the audience who are not a fan of him, stay away from the product itself. Not only this, but because the advertisement was portraying that this Dodge 200 automobile was made in Detroit, one may believe that because of Detroit's poor background, the car may not be as luxurious as the ad is making it out to be.
Chrysler proposes a problem to the American people that there is an economic problem in our country because of the images used in this commercial. However, this commercial portrays to the audience the direct need for this car to help OUR AMERICAN economy.
In this advertisment, Chrysler uses the appeals of ethos and pathos. Pathos is used throughout the entirety of the commercial by first showing the pictures of hard workers and how the narrator introduces it by, "What does this city know about luxury? Huh? What does a town that's been to hell and back know about the finer things in life? Well I'll tell ya, more than most" (Chrysler). This grasps the audience's attention and plays with their emotions while playing a quiet dramatic tone of music. Continuing on, the colors get brighter, the car being portrayed starts to be shown, and the music gets louder and stronger showing the boldness of this car and America.
A persuasive technique shown in this advertisement is that of patriotism which is "the suggestion that purchasing this product shows your love of your country" (Persuasive Techniques in Advertising). This is exactly what Chrysler does to sell their product. The whole commercial is the portrayal of how the Chrysler 200 is made in Detroit while the narrator also says, "When it comes to luxury, it's just as much about where it's from as who it's for. Now we're from America" (Chrysler). This not only persuades the audience using patriotism, but it also has a strong appeal to emotions, it makes people sit in awe.
Another persuasive technique Chrysler used was that of celebrities. Chrysler used the rap star Eminem to help with this advertisement, which was a great decision because Eminem is also originally from Detroit. This not only grabs the attention of the audience and gets people to want to buy the product more, but it also develops greater credibility (ethos) with the audience.
The intended audience of this advertisement is that of men. The advertiser took advantage of this by showing this ad during the Super Bowl since this is the most highly watched production by men. This is because the ad portrayed only a man who realized all the luxuries in life he could have if he was to buy this car. Along with these luxuries was primarily women figures, such as women chasing him down the street, women gazing at him in the club and leaving with him in his new luxury Mercedes-Benz.
The constraint to this advertisement is the unintentional use of the devil and selling your soul to him to get this car. This constraint would make religious people possibly want to stay away from this product and even the company itself because they may view it as demonic and contradicting the views of their religion. Also, this ad does not particularly appeal to women because it only portrays a man's thoughts of what constitutes as luxurious.
The use of Pathos and Ethos
The advertiser made use of pathos by appealing to the audience's emotions by portraying that if you buy this car, you will also get a luxurious life along with it. This is done by the devil (William Dafoe) saying, "Make a deal with me kid and you can have the car, and everything that goes along with it" (Mercedes-Benz). Then the advertiser shows the audience all the luxuries a person can have if they own a car such as this. This can also be looked at in another form of persuasion such as that of association and snob appeal. Snob appeal is "the suggestion that the use of the product makes the customer part of an elite group with a luxurious and glamorous lifestyle" (Persuasive Techniques in Advertising), which is exactly what Mercedes-Benz does. They want to promote to the audience that they will get fame and fortune by purchasing this car. Also, association is much like snob appeal in that it is trying to "link a product with something already desired by the target audience" (Language of Persuasion). This can be something such as wealth or success such as what Mercedes-Benz does and who doesn't want success and wealth? Not very many people.
The advertiser made use of ethos by using a celebrity character to develop credibility and get the audience to pay more attention to the advertisement being shown. William Dafoe was also an Academy Award nominee which makes an audience pay closer attention than getting a less well known actor playing the role in this situation. Celebrities are used in advertisements because the use of celebrities "grabs our attention" and "we tend to pay attention to famous people" (Language of Persuasion).
Advertisements and the rhetorical situation
Advertisements use aspects of the rhetorical situation to persuade the audience in to buying a specific product or service that they are trying to sell. Not only does this include utilizing pathos, ethos, and logos, but it also includes exigency, context, and also certain persuasive techniques such as the use of celebrities, snob appeal, etc. (Persuasive Techniques in Advertising). "Like arguments, ads can be effective if they appeal to the needs, values, and beliefs of the audience" (Hirschberg, 227). For example, we can look at the advertisements for Chrysler and Mercedes-Benz to see how these advertisers appealed to the needs of their audiences.
We have seen two very effective advertisements that use the rhetorical situation. However, in my opinion, I believe that the Chrysler commercial for the Chrysler 200 is more effective. This is because this advertisement can relate to any person, there is no unintended audience. Also, the context of this commercial was laid out much better than the Mercedes-Benz advertisement and there were fewer constraints. The Mercedes-Benz commercial could have negatively affected the unintended audience and they did not think about that beforehand. Their message was also not as successful because it was false advertising in the fact that there is no way that someone gets fame and fortune just by purchasing a car. The use of rhetorical devices used in the Chrysler advertisement was much greater than that of the Mercedes-Benz commercial and would therefore appeal to a broader range of audience. Therefore, this advertisement was more successful in using the rhetorical situation in selling their product.
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