Tag Archive for Rhetoric of Advertising

Presidents’ Day: Toyota’s Dancing Presidents


The focus of this weekend’s impromptu posts is Presidents’ Day commercials highlighting the following key terms “presidents” and “dancing.”  Silly?  Yes.  Disturbing?  Most Certainly.  Opportunity to teach cultural point of view and highlight how silly we can be?   Absolutely.   Hopefully this weekend’s post can help you add social commentary, media literacy and humor to the classroom.

There is a chance, however small, that yesterday’s Value City Furniture “Dancing Presidents” commercial simply did not satisfy your need to see our founding fathers break it down.  Never fear.  Today, we’ll give you one more commercial featuring our newly minted back up dancers President Lincoln and President Washington.

Toyota Presidents’ Day 2011 Commercial –“Presidents Care”

At 30 seconds, this is a much more standard commercial.  Have student consider the patriotic elements as well as the highly choreographed presidents.  You may have students compare this “dancing presidents” commercial to the Value City Furniture commercial highlighted yesterday.  Questions for viewing, written response and discussion are below.

  1. Describe the reason that Toyota would feature “pseudo” hip hop music and dance moves in this commercial for car sales over President’s Day weekend.  What argument does this make about the audience they’re trying to reach?
  2. What patriotic elements are included in the commercial?  Explain their purpose?
  3. Again, why dancing presidents?  What difference does it make that these Presidents are choreographed and wearing tuxedos?
  4. Of the two dancing presidents commercial, Value City & Toyota, which is ultimately more effective?  Explain your reasoning.
  5. Considering that you’ve viewed two commercials that prominently feature dancing presidents, what argument could you make about society or culture?

Super Bowl 2012: Week in Review

           Friday Dialogue from                

                                      Your Two Favorite Educators 

As Emily and Aubrey look back over the week they use their razor sharp wit to analyze commercials.  All types of commercials.  Even, *gasp*, some of the worst.  

1.  Why do you think it is important to use commercials to teach students rhetoric?  What types of commercials do you think work the best with students?
What does Emily say?


Emily:  I think students respond the best to commercials with humor. However, I think they do the best job of analyzing commercials with dogs in them.  For some reason it is easy for them to extract a larger argument when a canine is involved!

Is Aubrey right?

Aubrey: Humor, dogs, even Kia’s “Hamster Rap” make a difference in student response.  Although I will say that I’ve used Google Chrome’s “Dear Sophie” commercial and there wasn’t a dry eye in the room.  Something about children growing up and swelling music.  Judge for yourself.

Google Chrome: “Dear Sophie”

2.  Sharethrough argues that consumers should demand all commercials live up to the same “hype” and content quality of Super Bowl Sunday.  Do you think that companies have the responsibility to entertain, morally challenge and delight their consumers?

Emily: No, I don’t think it is their “responsibility.”  However, I think the more

What does Emily say?entertaining they are the more effective they are in engaging viewers, which brings in more revenue.  I worry about commercials with the intent or responsibility to morally challenge their consumers.  I don’t think it is inappropriate or wrong, but I think it says a lot about the current state of our country and our morale if moral education is coming through 30-second spots that should be geared toward promoting a product.


Aubrey: I like entertainment.  I’d like to demand more entertainment. I’m not in a position to demand when it comes to advertising.  I don’t own aIs Aubrey right? Volkswagen, a Chevy or even a Ford.  There’s little chance that I’m going to fall wildly in love with Nacho Doritos or Bud Light.  So technically they don’t really owe me anything.  When it comes to morally challenging though, it seems complicated.  Ultimately even advertising that promotes “good” wants to also promote consumerism.  I don’t think either or those things are wrong individually.  I worry that together people, events, even “things” can be misappropriated.


3.  What commercials have had the most impact over the last ten years.

Emily: The commercials with lasting appeal are the ones that people find What does Emily say?themselves repeating later in the day.  The catchphrase or tagline is key.  The commercials with a statement like “don’t leave home without it” and “the other white meat” last with audiences.  The commercials with lasting appeal are the ones that people find themselves repeating later in the day.  However, my favorite taglines are ones like “Have It Your Way” and “I’m luvin’ it.” Mmmm…fast food.

Aubrey: Taglines are important.  I can’t remember as a child how many times I said, “Time to Make the Donuts” but it was far too many.  Personally, I feel the shift to commercials that showcase music and limited dialogue has been significant.  Clearly,  Volkswagen’s “The Force” is a near perfect example and the Chevy Sonic “Stunt Anthem” from Sunday was quite good.   But I would classify one my favorites as the Nike “Tag” commercial. Idea, execution, acting, music–it’s all amazing.  I may have looped it while writing all my responses.

4.  Choose an item or buisness that you think is in need of a revamped advertising campaign.  Explain yourself in an appropriate and witty way.


Emily: One store that I think is in need of a better advertising campaign is Jared, the Galleria of Jewelry.  I turn the television every time those commercials come on the air.  They are toxic.  No matter what approach they take (like the most recent commercials that have a man proposing on the big screen and then football players commenting on the fact that he went to Jared) they are still miserable.  Actually, I think most jewelry commercials are horrible.  The ones with Jane Seymour are pretty horrible too.
Is Aubrey right?


Aubrey: Gag, Jane Seymour and Kay Jewelers.  “Every Kiss Begins with Kay” is the worst.  Those commercials make me feel dirty if I don’t press mute fast enough.  They are rivaled by all of the Lexus ads asking you to make this a “December to Remember.”  I think I just threw up in my mouth thinking about that ad campaign.