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Nowadays commercials seem to be every where and advertise almost about anything and everything that they think can be sold to consumers worldwide. Many marketing companies like Dentyne, an international chewing gum manufacturer, have realized long ago that sexual imagery is better retained in our brains, so in order to leave a better impression about their products in consumers minds they have gone ahead embraced these techniques to the fullest, lawful, extent in their ads in order to boost up their quarterly sales.
Two chewing gum commercials presented by Trident and Dentyne, “Trident sugarless gum”(1980) and “Dentyne Ice Arctic Chill”(2001), use a type of propaganda referred to as Weasel Words: “original”, “softer”, “new”, and more “flavor” and Testimonial techniques done by Peggy Fleming, which are able to reach out to their viewers through the use of Logos, Ethos, and Pathos appeal by inducing sexual thoughts and using Dentist recommendations. In the 1980’s Trident advertised their new Trident sugarless gum through figure skater Peggy Fleming; An American figure skater, 1968 Olympic Champion, and 3 time World Champion. The commercial takes place on an ice ring, Fleming is seen approaching a little kid named Jerry who is skating with his new friend, he then introduces his friend to Peggy Fleming. Ibarra 2
Fleming almost immediately offers Jerry’s new pal if she would like to taste the “New Sugarless Trident gum”. The little girl goes ahead and tries the gum while going “mmm”, you could barely understand what the girl murmurs after that. Fleming goes ahead and turns the gum box around to reveal a label on the back, which in bold black letters read “4 out of 5 Dentist surveyed recommend sugarless gum for their patients who chew gum”. Almost immediately Jerry is amazed by this new chewing gum and decides to introduce more of his friends to Peggy Fleming, she then magically pulls out 3 more gum boxes to share with Jerry’s new friends. The advertisement then cuts to the next scene where it states that its “recommended by moms like Peggy Fleming”.
The attempted use of Ethos and Logos is apparent in this advertisement, by stating statistics “4 of 5 Dentist surveyed recommend sugarless gum for their patients who chew gum” and a label that reads “does not promote tooth decay”. Trident tries to establish their credibility by using references to Dentist in their advertisements, in order to sell behind the idea of professionalism and a healthy chewing lifestyle. According to the advertisement 4 out of 5 Dentist recommend sugarless gum and Trident’s new product is sugarless gum, therefor it could be implied that 4 of 5 Dentist recommend trident.
Although Peggy Fleming is not a Dentist her presence in the commercial is effective. There are two main propaganda techniques which are being used in the Trident ad: Testimonial and Weasel words. By hiring professional Figure Ice Skater Peggy Fleming to advertise the “new” Trident product people tend to focus less on the product and more on her persona. In doing so viewers forget to question what puts Fleming in a “better position to Ibarra judge than we are ourselves(Woolfolk 8)”. Flemings uses the weasel words “new”, “softer”, “original flavor”, and “tasty” in order to make viewers believe that this product is different from anything else being sold, unfortunately everybody’s taste receptors and definition of softer differs from person to person. In reality if a person went ahead and bought this product on the pretext that this gum was softer, it would not meet his or her standards.
The advertisers appeal to kids and moms everywhere by utilizing children to appear in their commercials and saying phrases like “recommended by moms like Peggy Fleming”, since Fleming is a ice skating champion many moms might trust Peggy Fleming’s image since she is a sport celebrity and apparently a mom. Dentyne is another international advertiser and gum manufacturer, in 2001 they aired and advertisement for their product “Dentyne Ice Arctic Chill”. The commercial starts of with bright colors in what seems to be in a bar with a couple of men playing billiard. A beautiful woman wearing all pink passes by the both men as the narrator is heard saying “There’s a new chill in the air, arctic chill”.
The woman then takes out a packet of Dentyne Ice and redirects the light with the gum’s shinny cover and momentarily blinds the man. She proceeds to walk towards the man she purposely blinded while taking a gum out of the packaging, she then boldly grabs him by the neck and passionately kisses him. Almost instantly the room turns cold and the bright colors change to a light blue as the man momentarily breathes out a fog of cold air through his mouth giving the sensation of a cold breeze as the frozen billiard balls hit each other and chatter into tiny frozen pieces. Ibarra Through the use of good looking models Dentyne gives the impression that even gum can be considered attractive. The camera spends most of its time focusing on the eye contact and the sexual body language between the actors that its use of Pathos is clearly evident. By using sex appeal and the drastic change of colors Dentyne tries to associate its product with something that is sexy, cold and refreshing as an Arctic chill.
The sexual tension used through out the commercial seems to act as a distraction to what Dentyne seems to advertise, the coldest piece of gum you will ever chew on. Although Dentyne may not appeal to its viewers with testimonial techniques, they do use quite the number of weasel words: Icier, fresher, colder, new, even cooler, and ice at its coldest. These words mean absolutely nothing and yet Dentyne uses them in a way to leave the impression that this gum is ridiculously cold and once you put that one tiny piece of gum in your mouth your body will instantly feel 20 degrees cooler. When Dentyne mentions the words cooler, colder, and icier along with visual images of a frosty environment consumers can be misguided to believe that this gum is will actually keep them cool when it comes to steamy situations like the ones caused when meeting attractive women.
This type of advertisement can be very misleading to consumers, viewers everywhere focus their attention on the models and the idea of being “cool” that they often forget that its just a piece of gum. Advertisers try to sell this product by portraying it as being something more than a piece of gum. It amazes me the various ways and techniques companies advertise to reach out to consumers. Companies Trident and Dentyne, “Trident sugarless gum”(1980) and “Dentyne Ice Arctic Chill”(2001), embrace a combination of propaganda and Aristotle’s persuasive techniques Ibarra to create a more effective way of convincing consumers to consume their products.
Although Dentyne resorts to only using sex appeal and a couple of weasel words to promote their product, the most effective advertisement award would go to Trident. While Dentyne’s commercial initially attracts consumers to their product with provocative sexual appeal they distract them from the actual functions of their gum through a cloak of illusion, Trident not only do they attract consumers with the use of weasel words they also establish a reason why the consumer should go to buy the product by including data of “surveyed Dentist” and using the words “does not promote tooth decay” giving the gum a more realistic everyday function.