Evaluation of an Advertising

For this assignment you will select an advertisement from any magazine source and use this advertisement as the basis for an evaluation which critiques the degree to which the ad accomplishes its objectives with respect to its target audience.

In your discussion you will need to do each of the following and organize the information into a cohesive discussion.

Identify the target audience: Generally speaking, how old are they? What gender? What economic class? How educated are they? And most importantly, what elements of the ad point to a specific audience (the graphics, copy, font, etc)

With reference to Fowles’ Fifteen Basic Appeals, what appear to be the main appeals that we see in the ad? What elements of the ad connect with the appeals you have identified? What appears to be the overall primary appeal?

In terms of the rhetorical triangle, what general type of appeal (logical, emotional, or authoritative) does the advertisement exploit? (you can tie this in with your discussion of the main appeal from Fowles, noted above). If there is more than one type (and often there is) describe what seems to be the primary and secondary type.

Your main point (and your thesis) overall should focus on the specific methods the ad is attempting to get its message across to its target audience, in terms of both tactics (humor, authority, tone, style) and specific appeals (nurture, acceptance, etc).

In your discussion you will want to quote information from your RCD sources. Use these sources to illustrate how you are drawing your conclusions about the advertisement’s appeals. Cite them accurately. You may also include source material from outside the text as well.
** organization:
In organizing your essay, your first body paragraph may want to focus on the target audience based on what we actually see in the ad. In other words, how do the graphics and the “action” in the ad, along with the copy, fonts, other factors, define the kind of people who will be interested in the product? In what ways do these factors exclude some people? In what ways do they target specific age, income, gender, and social groups?

By making the target audience the focus of your first body paragraph you will set up the rest of the discussion. The following paragraphs can then focus on the specifics regarding how the ad attempts to reach the target audience you identified. For instance, one paragraph can focus on how humor is used to captivate the audience, and how the humor is used to create a need for the product. Another paragraph can focus on how the graphics and copy help to execute the ad’s message and appeals.

Basically, your first body paragraph is pretty much cut and dried, but you have options when it comes to the remaining body paragraphs.

an example of the Advertising essay

It’s Back
We’ve all been there. You’re reading an article in Men’s Health, or perhaps flipping through a collection of pictures in National Geographic, when all of a sudden, you’re interrupted by a full page advertisement. What do you do? Read it? Maybe take note of it and come back to study it later? If you’re like many readers, you probably just disregard it and flip the page without giving it much thought. There are, however, exceptions from time to time. There might be a product ad which the reader has a particular interest in or a certain ad that just happens to catch his or her attention. What causes the reader to disregard what they were focused on only a page ago? What is it about the ad that lures readers in? Advertisers use obvious methods such as, but not limited to: imagery, celebrities, humor, slogans, and, in some cases, fragrance samples. Clever companies, however, will often try to appeal to the reader in a discrete fashion. The use of certain colors or fonts might dictate the overall mood and target audience. The advertiser might also include messages within the text that aren’t always obvious or only noticeable to certain people. The ad for the new 2011 Ford Mustang 5.0 is a good example that tries to appeal to its target audience through a strong visual approach, as well as subtle emotional and authoritative approaches.
Let’s consider the target audience of the advertisement. Right away, the reader notices that it’s a full-color, two page spread on the inside cover of the October, 2010 issue of Maxim. Most consumers are probably familiar with Maxim as an entertainment magazine geared towards men. Photo shoots of swimsuit models, video game reviews, dating advice, fashion guides, and other topics of interest to men are often featured. Based on this, one could even infer that it’s specifically targeting young men, perhaps under the age of forty or forty-five. Another clue that points to this can be seen in the color of the car, which is the traditionally masculine color of dark blue. We also know that new cars aren’t exactly cheap and that the average teenager probably can’t afford a brand new Mustang, especially the high-performance V-8 version. It can be safely assumed that Ford is specifically targeting young men that are at least out of high school or college, employed full-time, and have a decent amount of disposable income, probably in the age range of 20-45.
The copy of the ad is very basic. The block letters and italic text give an impression of speed and simplicity, perhaps to imply that this is a car for people who just want to go fast. The second sentence reads, "It’s in a mood." The word "mood", along with the smoke rising off of the spinning rear tires, appear to be a subtle suggestion of aggression. Prolific media writer, Jib Fowles, has identified the need to aggress as one of fifteen basic appeals used in advertising. He based his theory on studies and interviews conducted by Harvard psychologist Henry A. Murray. Fowles describes the need to aggress as:
The pressures of the real world create strong retaliatory feelings in every functioning
human being. Since these impulses can come forth as bursts of anger and violence, their
display is normally tabooed. Existing as harbored energy, aggressive drives present a
large, tempting target for advertisers (503).
Ford was careful not to be over-the-top, because, as Fowles cautions, "There is always the danger that if the appeal is too blatant, public opinion will turn against what is being sold" (504). When taking a closer look, the reader notices "412 horses" in the small print, referring to the amount of horsepower generated by the engine. This most certainly appeals to the need to dominate which Fowles explains simply as the "craving to be powerful" (505). Domination and aggression suggest that Ford is targeting male drivers that want to make a statement with their vehicle. They aren’t seeking a driver who’s willing to settle for an average four-cylinder sedan, but rather someone who wants to be faster and overpower other automobiles on the road. It could also be said that a high-horsepower engine might appeal to the need to feel safe in that having a lot of power on tap is similar to having an emergency savings account in the bank. Even though someone might not ever use it, it gives them a sense of security in knowing it’s there.
Certain readers, such as Mustang enthusiasts, may even be left feeling a bit nostalgic after viewing the advertisement. Right away, the reader sees "It’s back" and then later, "The 5.0 returns." "It" is referring to 5.0 liter V-8 engine that was extremely popular in Mustangs manufactured the late 1980s into the mid 1990s. The 5.0 was an affordable power plant that responded very well to aftermarket upgrades which allowed them to make high horsepower, thus being quite popular among hot-rodders and drag racers. When the 5.0 was replaced by the 4.6 liter engine in 1996, it signaled the end of an era to many loyalists. Nevertheless, the 5.0 continued to a popular platform for car enthusiasts even after production ended. Ford, no doubt, realizes this and is sure to advertise the fact that the 5.0 is returning for the 2011 model. Older readers that may have owned one in their younger days in the ’80s and ’90s will certainly be reminded and perhaps gain a renewed interest in the modern version of a classic muscle car. Admittedly, I was personally taken back to a more care-free time in high school when I drove a green Mustang 5.0 with dual exhaust and tinted windows. I would drive around town with friends aimlessly for no better reason than the idea that I had a "cool" car. Plenty of time and gas were wasted, but we had a blast doing so. I thought to myself, "What if I could re-live those days again in a brand new Mustang?" I realized that the ad was appealing to the need to satisfy curiosity as I wondered what it would be like to get behind the wheel again. "Human beings are curious by nature," asserts Fowles, he goes on to state that "this need can be as primal and compelling as any of the others" (508). Ford tries to further invoke curiosity in the reader at the very bottom of the page with two simple words: "Drive one." This lets readers know that they don’t have to take Ford’s word for it; they could visit their nearest dealer and experience it for themselves. This hints at the idea that Ford considers themselves an authority when it comes to performance cars. They are confident enough in their product that they invite everyone who views the ad to take a Mustang for a test drive.
As we’ve explored, the methods that advertisers use to sell their products vary as widely as the target audiences themselves, but they aren’t always obvious. In fact, ads are often more effective when the messages subliminally attempt to make an emotional connection with the reader. Fowles notes that "it takes a bit of practice to learn to ignore the product information. But that skill comes soon enough…" (510). He suggests that readers are quick to disregard most advertisements that simply attempt to explain a product, and that in order to have the most effect on the reader, there has to be more than what meets the eye. Emotion is a powerful driving factor in the lives of human beings and Ford’s advertising department has done an exceptional job incorporating it into their ad for the 2011 Mustang.
Companies advertise in hopes of furthering business by selling their products, and apart from necessity, people buy things in hopes it will make them happy, to fulfill their curiosity, among other factors. This creates a mutual relationship between advertisers and consumers, when combined, Fowles concludes that "neither party can be said to be the loser" (512).
Works Cited
Fowles, Jib. “Advertising’s Fifteen Basic Appeals.” Research and Composing in the Disciplines. Laurence Behrens, Leonard J. Rosen. Boston: Pearson Learning Solutions, 2011, 2008, 2005. 495-512.

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