Tag Archive for Rhetoric

Advertising & Rhetoric

www.iStockphoto.com

Perhaps it’s because I can’t resist a good laugh.  Perhaps it’s because of Elaine Benes and the J. Peterman catalogue.  Whatever the reason, I love SkyMall. It’s free entertainment.  Cat toilets and portable infrared sauanas—what’ s not to love?

But if I’m truthful the product descriptions are the best part.  Anybody who can write up a product description about Skel-E-Gnomes deserves respect.  Plus with the Aziz Ansari stamp of approval there isn’t a reason to debate the importance of this magazine.

As English teachers, most of us teach visual rhetoric and advertising too. SkyMall can be an excellent way to implement some of the rhetoric studied.

Have students examine the catalogue.  Then, ask that they write their own product descriptions.   This type of an exercise offers students the opportunity to practice rhetorical strategies in a small space.

Provide them a list of images from the magazine.  They will choose one and write its product description.  It’s important they don’t see the original.  This should be an exercise in advertising and rhetoric. You can set a word count and ask that they employ a certain amount of rhetorical devices too.  You might even end this exercise by having students work with the 2005 AP Language and Composition rhetorical analysis from The Onion.

 

Possible Skymall Products

 

Possible Rhetorical Devices

  • Anaphora
  • Epistrophe
  • Polysndeton
  • Asyndeton
  • Metaphor
  • Alliteration
  • Simile
  • Rhetorical Appeals
  • Testimonals

 

If you’re feeling very adventurous you might have them construct a product description and a satirical version as well.

Rhetoric: Olympic Advertisements

As promised, today we talk about Olympic advertisements.  While the 2012 games are over, it’s still a good way to engage students in the process of viewing advertisements through a critical lens.   Introduce this particular exercise by discussing the sheer size of an Olympic audience and the role that Olympic sponsor.  Some good resources for this kind of discussion include:

Begin by asking students to simply watch the commercials without pens and pencils.  They’ll think you’ve lost it.  Then, ask them to watch a second time recording responses for critical thinking questions and SOAPSTone.  You may choose to discuss as a class or have them turn in for a grade.

P&G “Proud Sponsor of Moms

As you watch the commercial construct a series of detailed notes for each category of SOAPSTone. 

Speaker Occasion Audience Purpose Subject Tone
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1.  Explain the impact of using this particular age/size of children?  Why not babies?  Why not teens?

 

  1. Describe the emotional impact of the commercial itself and explain how that effect is accomplished.

 

 

  1. Why is there no dialogue until the very end?

 

  1. Why end with the image of a diver? Why not the weightlifting or balance beam?

 

 

 

Nike’s “Find Your Greatness

As you watch the commercial construct a series of detailed notes for each category of SOAPSTone. 

Speaker Occasion Audience Purpose Subject Tone
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Why begin with only the noise of the jogger’s feet on the pavement?

 

  1.  Define greatness in modern culture.  Define greatness according to this video.  Put both in your own words.

 

Now, identify the pros and cons to the videos perspective on greatness.  Be thoughtful in your responses. 

Pros Cons
    
    

 

  1.  Why argue that “greatness” is not a rare DNA strand?  Think about audience and where/when this commercial was aired.

 

  1. What argument does the commercial convey?  What might be the purpose of such an argument in light of the audience/event in which it aired?

Super Bowl 2012: Intro Advertising

Today we begin to tackle Super Bowl commercials from 2012.   Our goal: to give you some articles and videos to begin a unit on teaching advertising. Hopefully by now your heartburn and disdain for Mr. Quiggly has worn off.

iStockphoto.com

To begin, consider having students read The New York Times article, “Before the Toss, Super Bowl Ads.” This year, most Super Bowl advertisers have released ads early or offered up 30-second teasers.  As a result, Super Bowl ads have been viewed, liked, tweeted and reblogged millions of times.  This shift in marketing should be one of the primary focuses of their annotation as they read the article.  You’ll also want them to examine the accompanying infographic.

Consider using the following questions for classroom discussion or written response:

  1. Discuss the pros and cons of releasing a full length commercial before the Super Bowl.
  2. What type of argument do companies make about their products by creating a “teaser” or “trailer?”
  3. Examine the infographic.  Consider the number of ads presented by individual companies as well as the quarters in which the commercials air.  Construct two implicit arguments based on the information.  (THINK: what impact does timing have on an advertisement and/or brand?)

NPR also has an excellent story about the “Three Hidden Themes of This Year’s Super Bowl’s Ads” that you might consider having your students examine too.  Be forewarned.  The third theme is “sex” and specific reference is made to a drinking game based on the types of commercials that appear during the game.  If you choose to give your students only a section, stick to number one and two on the list.

Consider using the following questions for student response. 

  1. Why might “nostalgia” be one of the best ways to market towards any audience?  Identify what types of objects, characters, music, etc. would trigger your own nostalgia and make you more likely to buy a product.  See if you can do the same for types of “nostalgia” might “trigger” your parents.
  2. The story argues that human attention is “arrested” when animals appear on screen.   Why do animal ads sell?  Remember not all advertising includes “cute” kittens/puppies.
  3. What is it about ads with sex appeal that sells an item?  Do commercials that appeal to sex draw audience focus away from the actual product?

Finally, consider using the video below from sharethrough.  Their tagline is “every day should be the Super Bowl.”  Have students watch the video looking specifically to identify implicit arguments.

  1. What is implied by the use of the phrase “a battle of advertisement?”
  2. Define “content” according to the video.  Explain the difference between “contents” impact on the viewer versus “ads.”
  3. What is implied about consumers’ power in regards to advertising?  What role does technology play?
  4. The video ends by saying that this type of shift will make good advertising a “lasting part of our culture.”  Explain what the cultural role of advertising should be.

Weekend Pop Culture: Starbucks and Create Jobs for America

So I was in Starbucks this week.  Actually I’m in Starbucks every week.  It’s somewhat dismaying and comforting that the woman behind the counter sees my car pull up and starts making my drink.  Anyway, as I was waiting, I noticed that among the “freebies” was an infographic on newsprint about creating sustainable jobs.  I couldn’t help it.  I took one of the pamphlets and put it in my purse.  As a result, I’ve been engrossed by the coverage of this topic for the entirety of this week.

Create Jobs for USA is a partnership between Starbucks and the Opportunity Finance Network to create and sustain jobs.  They work with a microfinance corporation that lends to small businesses that are in need.  And while, it’s interesting that a corporation like Starbucks is donating 5 million towards this initiative and having customers donate too, but let’s get back to the marketing.

The infograhic is a remarkable source for classroom exercises.  Think: image analysis, language analysis and evaluating argument.  The good news?  If you don’t frequent Starbucks or don’t want to be seen taking the pamphlets out of the store by the “purseful” some of the best graphics are available online at the Create Jobs for USA website.  Today we’ll start by looking at the language/images of the organization itself.  Tomorrow we’ll examine the media blitz that surrounded the initiative.

For the “panels” below determine if you’ll project them or have students works individually or in small groups to examine, assess and respond. These are only two examples of what you could use check the website to find others.

Create Jobs “Infographics”

Infographic Panel-Visibly Indivisible

Questions to pose for discussion or short response:

  1. Discuss the use of the phrase “visibly indivisible.”  What is the connotation?  Why employ this “play on words” mimicking the pledge of Allegiance?
  2. Annotate the image.  Pay particular attention to the primary focus on blue/white.  Explain why the “visibly indivisible is in read and placed on top of the flag itself.
  3. Read the paragraph on the right.  Explain the effect of repeating “we.”

Infographic Panel-9.1% of the U.S. Labor Force are Unemployed

 

Questions to pose for discussion or short response:

  1. What is implied by both the size and placement of 9.1?
  2. Examine the color scheme and image choices.  What impact do they make on the argument you identified above?
  3. In the paragraph, discuss the repetition of the word number.  Explain the impact on both purpose and audience.
Create Jobs for USA Advertisement
Similar to the “infographics” the advertisement is brief and relies primarily on graphics and succinct text.

Questions to pose for discussion or short response:

  1. Listen carefully to the music used.  What is its purpose?  When is there a shift in the soundtrack and how does it reflect the tone of the advertisement?
  2. What is the impact of no narration or dialogue?  What is the purpose in those omissions?
  3. What images, statistics or language stands out to you the most?  Explain your reasoning and describe the effect.