Writing Center
Spring 2009 Edition

Rhetorical Analysis

Megan Magelby
Argumentative 1010 2nd Place

Car ads have many ways of attracting potential buyers. Because of the spiraling economy, car ads have had to become more and more creative in order to elicit more sales. By using rhetoric concepts, the ads can target specific people. The main target audience of most car dealers is the family, and middle aged adults. Words such as marriage babies, and kids are used to grab a mother's attention when they flip through the pages. Making a car look sexually appealing and dangerous helps to attract the attention of men. Putting certain types of rhetoric in the ads can help it appeal to the types of people that would read the magazines the ads are printed in.

Because of the family friendliness of the magazine, a lot of pathos was used in these two ads. In the ad for the Subaru, the designer chose to use a lot of bright warm colors to appeal to the passionate side of people. The reds, yellows, and oranges make the ad exciting andnoticeable. Warm colors invoke happiness and a sense of adventure, two important things people look for when purchasing a vehicle.

The car in the ad is shown with wheels spinning, flying through the scenery so the background turns into blurred shapes. This appeals to the wilder side of people, of wanting to go fast and feel free. The motion in the wheels helps suggest that the car is going somewhere off the page and the viewer wants to follow it. Also, by blurring the background, we put the car in an indefinite environment. This tells the audience that they can go anywhere in this car if they buy it.

The ad uses specifically chosen words to continue the feeling of passion in the ad. The ad states, Needs change. Passions don't. The designers boldly state that the purpose for the ad is to invoke passion in the reader. Then the text goes farther by saying, It's the perfect marriage of style and substance. This uses pathos by applying the words style and substance to appeal to the carnal desire for attractive physical objects. Also, humans have a desire for perfection, and here it is stated that this vehicle is the perfect marriage between two things. The quote at the bottom, Love. It’s what makes a Subaru, a Subaru directly appeals to pathos using the word love. The viewer gets the idea that they will love the car, and it will love them back.

The Volkswagen ad also relies heavily on pathos. The model used in the ad is described as an actress and humanitarian. By using a recognizable and admirable figure, the ad is trying to appeal to the part of humans that wants to be famous. It is trying to get the point across that if you purchase this car, you can be as great and well-known as this person. The actress is attractive, standing with her arms folded, a serious look on her face and looking the viewer straight in the eye. This stance, along with the clothing choice, gives off a no-nonsense feel to the ad. By looking the audience straight in the eye, the model is showing that she can be trusted. Also, the clothing and the conservative look of the model reiterates the feeling that this is a family car.

The environment that the car is placed in plays a role on pathos. There is green grass, trees, a well kept road, and a beautiful sky. This gives off the feeling that the car is environmentally friendly and shows that the company cares about natural beauty. It also makes the industrial vehicle fit in the natural world, providing a comfortable contrast.

The quiz right above the car asks questions about family and children, still working with the pathos idea. The writers give an answer key right below the quiz, stating that all of the correct answers are the ones relating to love and family. By involving children, the writers portray the car as being safe for children and family friendly.

The ad is set up like a self help ad, bringing humor into the text. The answer key gives the reader a website to get the help you need. in case the readers score was less than 100% on the quiz. The text at the bottom of the ad uses humor to make it interesting and memorable. It plays the part of a sympathetic commercial for some drug, making it sound like you can self diagnose yourself. Volkswagen is using pathos in using the ideas of love and family to promote this as a family car.

Car ads use logos to draw in potential customers by showing that they have facts to back up what they are trying to sell. Specific words can be used to stimulate intellectual interest in the viewer of the ad. The Subaru add uses logos by listing a website where someone can see more information about the vehicle at the bottom of the ad. This tells the audience that there is a way to get additional information about the car in order to make a more informed decision.

Logos is also evident in the short paragraph at the bottom of the ad. Here the ad tells the reader a little bit about the parts of the car that the average viewer would understand, such as the horsepower. At the end of the paragraph, it also tells the viewer that the car won the Top Safety Pick Award, making it more attractive to the safety conscious person. By not overwhelming the audience with too much information, the designer allows the viewer to feel like that's all they need to know about the vehicle. If the audience isn't convinced to buy the car by the few sentences on the ad, they can go to the website to further their knowledge about the vehicle.

The logos in the Volkswagen ad is located primarily in the quiz, though some information is repeated in the paragraph at the bottom of the page. A curious reader is going to see this ad and wonder what type of quiz would be on a car ad. When reading through the multiple choice answers, the viewer is learning about features of the car, and thinking about family and babies because of the questions. The writers mixed logos and pathos into the body of the quiz to make it interesting and to inform and capture the audience.

Like the Subaru ad, the website for the Volkswagen vehicle is added at the bottom of the ad so the viewer can look at additional information about the car. Unlike the Subaru ad, the Volkswagen ad has the website for the car listed twice, in the answer key in the middle of the page and at the bottom. Because of the placement of the web address in the ad, the viewer has it introduced to their mind in the key, then after they have moved through the ad, the reader's eyes finally rest at the bottom of the page, where they are reminded of the website. The address at the bottom of the page is written in the same font and color as the rest of the information, making it only a small temptation to go and look, and not a bold order.

In the answer key to the quiz, the writers say, Visit RoutanBoom.org to get the help you need. This sentence involves logos by showing the website address and pathos in the humor of making it sound like the website can be something more than another advertisement for the car.

Ethos is important to car ads in the media. The name brand and logo of a company sometimes has more of an effect on the audience than the content of the ad itself. In both the Subaru and Volkswagen ads, the logo appears in the bottom right hand corner of the page. By doing this, the designers ensure that the reader will see the logo last. The designers know that because reading is done from left to right, top to bottom, the viewers eyes will naturally flow this way down the page.

The Subaru ad uses its name multiple times in the text to remind the reader repetitively what the ad is trying to sell. While the ad states the company name over and over, it's harder to find the name of the car they are advertising. It is only listed twice in the whole ad, and the audience would have to read everything on the page in order to find it.

The Volkswagen advertisement uses the fact that it is not an American company to promote itself. It uses German engineering to promote the reliability of the vehicle to the viewer. By reminding the viewer that Volkswagen is not an American company, it plays on the stereotype that foreign things are better manufactured than American items.

The audience needs to be kept in mind when designing an ad. An advertisement for a sports car wouldn't do as well in a Home and Gardening magazine as it would in a Sports Illustrated magazine. The Subaru and Volkswagen ads were found in the same issue of a Travel + Leisure magazine, where the general audience is middle aged adults. The Subaru ad uses specific rhetoric to appeal to middle aged parents who have children and want to feel young again. The Volkswagen ad appeals to newlyweds and couples by using the idea of having children and starting a family.

Rhetoric is a big part of advertising and can be seen in many ways in these ads. Using rhetoric helps to personalize the advertisement in a way that will be appealing to the audience. The type of magazine that the ad is printed in also plays a huge role in what type of rhetoric will be used.