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Persuasive Advertising Prompts Purchases

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Two major corporations, Progressive and Allstate Insurance, have recently launched televised advertisements that appeal to two distinctly different audiences to sell their insurance product by using persuasive appeals as defined in both Jib Fowles’ “Advertising’s Fifteen Basic Appeals” (Fowles, 2008, p. 558) and the Aristotelian Appeals. The advertisers used Pathos as the underlying appeal in both advertisements to reach their targeted audience, but Allstate’s advertisement, “Girl in the Pink Truck” (N.p., Allstate Mayhem Commercial) also relied on the need for safety (Fowles p. 563) and nurturance (Fowles p. 558) to appeal to parents of teenage girls; while Progressive’s advertisement, “Chick Flick”, (N.p., Chick Flick Progressive Insurance Commercial) used the need for sex (Fowles p. 555) and achievement (Fowles p. 560) to reach the young adult audience. An analysis will be made as to how these appeals are used to persuade audiences to buy their product and how they are cleverly disguised in the advertisements. Pathos, an emotional response, was invoked in the target audience of parents of teenage girls by using a pink vehicle as the major prop throughout the advertisement.

The adult male driver was purporting to be a teenage girl talking on the cell phone, texting, and driving while narrowly escaping several accidents in a parking lot (N.p., Allstate Mayhem Commercial). In today’s society, pink is typically associated with females, so this visual clue was immediately apparent to the targeted audience, invoking an emotion they could relate to—anxiety when their children are beginning to drive. In contrast, Progressive’s advertisement “Chick Flick”, the audience was immediately drawn in using the Pathos Appeal when the male character was depicted stranded and alone on a rainy night in a disabled vehicle (N.p., Chick Flick Progressive Insurance Commercial). This was a reasonable scenario that the audience could relate to, evoking empathy from the target audience of young adults. Besides this overlying theme, individual appeals were used separately for each advertisement. Feeling the need to be safe was one appeal (Fowles p. 563) used by the advertiser in the Allstate advertisement.

The driver didn’t crash, but experienced several near-mishaps while averting attention away from the road to the cell phone. While this may have caused some anxious moments, the audience experienced the appeal that their daughters were safe, while recognizing that crashes are quite probably imminent with driver distraction. “An insurance company wants to invoke the need to feel safe, but does not want to leave the (audience) with an unpleasant aftertaste.” (Fowles p. 565). In contrast, the need for sex was another appeal (Fowles p. 55) depicted in the Progressive advertisement when the female character suddenly appeared on the scene in a drenched, white dress which was not quite see-through, yet suggestive. Her facial expression and stride indicated a pending rendezvous as she approached the driver, another tactical appeal of the need for sex in reaching the young adult. “…advertisers have found sex to be a tricky appeal, to be used sparingly.” (Fowles p. 556) and this was accomplished when the female broke the spell with her sudden “bright idea” of a solution. Because these advertisements were relatively lengthy, there was room for additional appeals.

Another appeal identified by Fowles and used by the Allstate advertisement was the need for nurturance (Fowles p. 558) This appeal was demonstrated when the advertisers used the male character imitating a teenage girl and showing all the incorrect things she was doing, such as texting and talking on the phone while driving (N.p., Allstate Mayhem Commercial). The target audience, parents of teenage girls, realized that their daughters were still in need of guidance and driving instruction. Fowles explains this need is “woven deep into our genetic fabric, for if it did not exist we could not successfully raise up our replacements.” (Fowles p. 558) In contrast, in Progressive’s advertisement, the female presented a solution to the problem, which appealed to the need for achievement (Fowles p. 560) when she laid out her plans to assist the driver. He became so convinced that he would be successful that at the end of the advertisement, he felt accomplished enough to request an umbrella.

“A prominent American trait, (achievement) is one that advertisers like to hook on to because it identifies their product with winning and success.” (Fowles p. 560). This advertisement ended with the male character being a winner with all of his problems solved. Using three appeals in advertising may is the key to reaching the masses. In conclusion, although these two advertisements used the underlying appeal to Pathos, our emotions, to set the scene, they also incorporated differing appeals to reach the two distinctively targeted audiences. Allstate’s advertisement used the appeals of safety and nurturance to reach the targeted audience of parents of teenage girls; Progressive’s advertisement used the appeals of sex and achievement to reach out to their targeted audience of young adults. By using emotions and specific appeals, these persuasive advertisements accomplished their goal of reaching out and selling their product to targeted audiences. By using appeals, the advertisers have cleverly accomplished persuasiveness versus manipulation.

Works Cited

Allstate Mayhem Commercial – “Teenage Girl in Pink Truck.” Commercial Review Tube. N.p., N.d. Web. 24 Jan. 2013. Web.
“Chick Flick – Progressive Insurance Commercial” You Tube, You Tube, 10 Dec. 2012. Web. 24 Jan. 2013. Web.
Fowles, Jib. “Advertising’s Fifteen Basic Appeals.” Behrens, Laurence and Leonard J. Rosen. Writing and Reading Across the Curriculum. Upper Saddle River: Pearson, 2008. 690. Print.

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