Rhetorical Analysis

Rhetorical Analysis

Select an advertisement from a magazine, the newspaper, or from the internet.  Choose an
effective advertisement or editorial cartoon that contains both words and a visual message.

  1. Study the advertisement and consider the questions above regarding the author, message,
    and receiver of the chosen add.  What appeals are the advertisers or writers using to sell
    their product or idea?  Write answers to these questions, citing specific details that support
    your observations (colors, wording, positioning of objects or people, etc.)
  2. Make sure to include a copy of the advertisement and insert the correct citation
    information on the reference page
  3. Write an analysis (of at least two full pages) in which you explain the ad using your notes
    related to the SoapStone form.  Organize your essay according to the following:
    MLA Format….(12 Font, Times New Roman, and Double-Spaced)
           Introduction:  Establish the purpose of the ad, the author, business, or organization behind the ad, and the
    targeted audience.  State the problem that is being addressed or the issue that is being raised and the purpose of
    the heightened awareness (to persuade, to galvanize people to action, to inform, or to win one’s support).
           Body: Explain in more detail the extent to which each appeal is being used in the advertisement. Offer details to
    support your observation.  Determine the claim of the advertisement and the assumptions the author makes about
    the audience in this ad.   Discuss each appeal by citing evidence that supports your observations.
           Conclusion:  Write an evaluation of the advertisement or editorial, stating the ad’s effectiveness in achieving its
    purpose with its targeted audience.  If the desired message is effective, what is the outcome or consequences for
    the receiver or for society, in general?
    Specific Questions to Consider:
    Focusing on the author, speaker, persona: ethical appeal (ethos)
    Who is the author?  Is it a business firm trying to sell you a product or a service, a public organization
    seeking to inform you about its policies, a politician trying to win your allegiance, an interest group or
    media member trying to change your opinion about an issue?  Other? 
    What is the ethos (general credibility) of the author?
    What is the ad trying to accomplish?  In other words, what is the sender’s “problem?”  There is often some
    kind of communication problem behind an ad or campaign.  For example, the authors may seek more

English 101 Academic Writing & Research I Fall 2021
awareness on the part of the receiver, or more legitimacy for themselves.  Are you aware of any problems
the sender (company) may be having within that specific industry, market, or area of activity?
Focusing on the message or subject: logical appeal (logos)
What is the simple message of the media?  What product is the ad trying to sell?  What is the subject of
the movie/TV show?
What is the true message of the media?  Are there any hidden meanings the receiver is intended to
observe?  Do any connotations come to mind when you view the media?
What ideologies or values does the piece of media invoke?  In other words, what images, discourses,
concepts, myths, etc. of the culture does the media use when making an appeal?
How is the message presented?  In an advertisement, what is the layout?  What images, text appear, etc.? 
If it is a TV Show or movie, who are the characters?  What is the setting, etc?
How does the media connect concrete features with abstract values?  In other words, how does the
presentation of the message communicate deeper/abstract meanings (our values/norms) in addition to
the simpler meaning (what is being sold)?
Focusing on the audience or receiver: emotional appeal (pathos)
Who is the targeted audience?  What individuals/group of individuals is/are intended to receive the
Is the media having the desired effect on the targeted audience?  Are the logical/emotional/ethical
appeals working?  Is the audience being persuaded to buy what the media/advertisers are selling?  If yes,
why?  If not, why not?
If the desired message comes across effectively, might there be any consequences for the receivers?  For
society as a whole? 
The Rhetorical Triangle

Three important elements come into play when creating any kind of argument or discussion.  These are illustrated by
the rhetorical triangle.
Logos (Rational or Logical Appeals):  Appeal to logical reasoning ability of the audience through use of facts, case
studies, statistics, experiments, logical reasoning, analogies, anecdotes, authority voices, etc.  When determining if the
speaker or writer establishes logos, one might ask the following: Are the writer’s claims reasonable?  Is there sufficient
evidence to support those claims?  Does the speaker or writer  make logical conclusions?  Does he/she talk about counter-
arguments, other opinions or points of view?
Pathos (Emotional Appeals):  Appeal to beliefs/feelings of the audience.  An appeal of pathos can move an audience to
anger or to tears as a means of persuasion.  The speaker or writer may attempt to invoke particular emotions such as fear,
envy, patriotism, anger, etc.  An appeal of pathos may also stem from shared values between the author and the audience,
or from an argument that caters to an audience’s beliefs.      
Ethos (Ethical Appeals):  Appeal based on the character, persona, and/or position of the speaker or writer.  This kind of
appeal gives the audience a sense of the author as competent/fair/an authority figure.  Such an appeal may highlight the
author’s trustworthiness, credibility, reliability, expert testimony, reliable sources, fairness, celebrity, etc.

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MLA Format, 563 words
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