Paper 4: Advertisements

Unit Four: Argument in Relation to Two Texts: Advertisements

Advertisements use rhetorical appeals to persuade potential customers and clients to purchase their company’s products and services. By doing so, they speak to social assumptions and class issues, target specific inclusive and exclusive subcultures, and engage in larger discourses. No add is as simple as it seems. For instance, when Axe commercials insinuate that using their products will help men (and boys) attract loads of scantily-clad women who may have loose morals; these ads are playing with social issues related to attractiveness, desire, and the American sexual ideal. We will be exploring advertisements beyond their persuasive features, identifying the underlying assumptions and discourses they address. We will look at print advertisements, TV commercials, and online advertisements (textual/image based and video ads) to explore how different forms of ads are able to incorporate unique elements.

For this assignment, you will be asked to create an argument based on two advertisements, addressing what discourse they are participating in, how they do so, and (your argument) what the significance of the ads is. In order to complete this assignment, you will need to choose two ads which address THE SAME discourse. Don’t choose a pizza hut commercial and a soap commercial, unless you really can connect the two in a meaningful way. Your advertisements can be for two different products which share a significant connection, in terms of the social issues/discourses they address, or they can be two different ads for the same product (such as the many, many GEICO commercials, how many mascots do they have anyway?). You can choose one commercial and one print ad, two commercials, two print ads, etc, so long as you are able to make a unique and insightful argument.

Questions to get you thinking about this paper: What advertisements do you find appealing? Why? Brainstorm a list of different ads you’ve seen, such as product ads, organizations, political ads, etc. What are the major differences between these kinds of ads? What issues are you interested in (ex. Social conceptions of beauty/femininity/masculinity, class issues, sexuality (LGBT), religion, education, political issues such as taxes, fiscal conservatism/liberalism, etc)? Now that you’ve thought of a list of issues, can you think of any ads you’ve seen on TV, heard on the radio or seen/heard online, read in a magazine or newspaper (etc) that address these issues, either explicitly or implicitly? How do they do so?

Due Dates:

Tuesday 11-8: Turn in a one page, single spaced, typed letter describing three possible topics for your paper. List a possible thesis statement for each topic.

Tuesday 11-15: Turn in a hard-copy of a rough draft of your paper.

Tuesday 11-29: A hard copy of your final draft is due