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Use of Rhetorical Appeals in Advertising

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Did you know that one-fifth of the total adult population in the United States are smokers? It is among the first causes of deaths that are preventable. The media is flooded with messages of anti-smoking that shows its dangers by use of graphics and shocking pictures. Therefore, I would like to analyze a black and white image of a young man smoking. Alongside the picture, there are some words reading “Kill a cigarette, save life. Yours.” The ad uses three rhetorical appeals of ethos, pathos, and logos to bring out the implied meaning of the image. Using the three techniques, the artist is able to deliver the message of awareness and at the same time dangers of smoking.

The image was created with the intention of evoking a response from its audience which is both the smoker as well as non-smokers, particularly it is aimed at young people. In the nonsmokers, the image will either create a distasteful feeling towards smoking or they will not be concerned because it has little to do with them. The group it is likely to appeal most are those who vehemently oppose smoking and other tobacco products. This type of people may be convinced that anti-smoking ads will persuade the smokers to quit while this may not be true. On the other hand, the message will be a clear reminder of the harm they are causing themselves. Nevertheless, the smokers will be indifferent to the message as they are already aware of the possible dangers and hence they will continue with the habit probably because they are addicted or they are apathetic to their lifestyle. Additionally, they may view the ads as repetitive, unoriginal and personal. The smokers are likely to react to the ad by detaching themselves from messages that condemn their acts.

The logos is the first appeal used in this image. The main premise, which is a general knowledge in many countries, is that smoking is harmful to your body. This is the reality in many parts of the world where smoking is generally seen as destructive in the modern times unlike in the past where it was encouraged throughout society. The minor premise is that smoking is as dangerous as pointing a gun on your head. From the general understanding of the harmful effects of cigarettes and pointing of the gun, it can be concluded that smoking is suicidal. Further, the message is enhanced in the writings that read “Kill a cigarette, save a life. Yours.” The wording implies that, there is no difference in pulling a trigger on your head and smoking.

The ethos is the second rhetorical appeal that affects the image’s message. The artist behind this ad, Kelly Ashcraft, is not a popular photographer in the society. The only people who know her are friends, close individuals and those who have seen her work on the internet. Nevertheless, the audience is able to conclude her personality and credibility through this piece of art. The audience can conclude that she is trying to persuade the audience on a healthy lifestyle. She is likely to been seen as a person with negative thoughts about smokers because of her threatening image. Smokers, unlike the non-smokers will strongly disagree on her view on use of tobacco. They are likely to believe the message in the image because they are of similar opinion regarding cigarettes. Ashcraft and United States have a similar opinion on the harmful side of smoking; it is incredibly bad on the users and, therefore, she loses some credibility as the image does not seem that negative and could be termed as one-sided.

The last rhetorical appeal on the ad is pathos. A definite situation of decision making is brought about by the white and black color of the image. The neutral and straight looks of the young man in the image depicts thoughts of death as personal to individuals. Emotional appealing is portrayed in various ways by the gun forming smoke. It captures the attention of the viewer because the gun is not only dangerous but also a controversial topic in the United States. The same way a gun is suicidal, the artist has depicted smoking as equally dangerous. It gives the viewer a second though as they witness the young man cause his own death. In pop culture, suicide is catastrophic incidence but, hot topics as well. A feeling of darkness and intriguing sense once someone mentions ending of a life is inevitable.

The image of a man smoking and producing a smoke that forms an image of a gun pointing at his head employs the logos, pathos, and ethos through the coloring and as well as a controversial message. Ashcraft in her prejudice and ineffectual placement of words still drives a point that smoking is hazardous on an individual health. As smoking is so prevalent in the world, so are the anti-smoking efforts. This contrasted ideology is the main cause of never-ending battle between media and smokers. Though this is a great piece of work, it needs to be improved by extending a message of hope o the smokers. In as much as they need to be educated on the dangers of smoking, they also need to be given hope that change of smoking lifestyle is possible.

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