Rhetorical Effects of Advertising

Many rhetorical figures—unique pictures, words, and sequences of facts designed to elicit a positive reaction from the audience through inference and emotion—are used in advertising, all of which speak to the three basic parts of rhetoric: ethos, pathos, and logos. Visual methods outperform their verbal counterparts in terms of productivity, and visual arguments are a type of persuasion. These techniques show that an effective mix of words and pictures can be used in television.

What are the Rhetorical Effects of Advertising?

By definition, a "rhetorical figure" is an intentional departure from the conventional structure of an argument. Many people's biographies dating back to antiquity have been preserved, including those of the most well-known and the most forgotten figures (antimetabole). Rhetorical figures are widely employed in print ads but have received surprisingly little academic attention. Rhetorical figures identify figurative and non-figurative text, the two categories of figures (schemas and tropes), and the four rhetorical procedures that underpin each figure (repetition, reversal, substitution, and destabilization).

An overview of the Utilization of Rhetoric in Advertising

Since Aristotle's day, rhetoric has enjoyed widespread acclaim (384–322 BC). At first, rhetorical instruction was provided by the wise in order to help the common folk win others over to their side of the democratic cause. Not until the first century did writers start using rhetoric to enrich and convince readers. The employment of rhetoric in today's business environment is a common strategy for influencing and impressing clients into making purchases. These three aspects have been essential to the art of rhetoric ever since Aristotle's time (384–322 BC). The term "ethos" describes the credibility of the speaker, "pathos" is the emotional response of the listener, and "logos" is the logical reasoning behind the argument.


The ethos of a speaker is their moral or ethical stance. To what extent one's argument is convincing depends on the speaker's status. Celebrities are frequently included in advertisements as they introduce new products, which indicates that the advertisements' content is accurate, trustworthy, and of good quality. People associate these cartoons with the brand, the sold item, etc.


It refers to the emotional responsibility of communication, which can be seen in how the listener is engaged, inspired, and ultimately persuaded. Pathos in advertising refers to music and pictures that evoke strong emotions. Examples of effective advertising techniques include the use of calming music and bright, upbeat, and sexually alluring visuals. The strange facial expressions give the otherwise happy images and text a unique twist.


The logos reveals the logic behind the argument, leading the audience to a more fruitful understanding of the discourse's fundamental ideas. Statistics, anecdotes, illustrative traits, and causal chains are all viable evidence. Everything is laid out to persuade the customer to act as the advertisement wants. Because they are more engaging, comprehensible, and memorable than text, visual logos will have a greater impact than textual logos.

Rhetorical Operations

At this juncture in the framework, we can see how the distinction between basic and complicated schemes and tropes gives rise to the four rhetorical processes of repetition, reversal, substitution, and destabilization.


Repetition involves repeating a phrase or clause without changing its meaning. Commercials use rhyme, chime, alliteration, and assonance. Word repetition creates anaphora, epistrophe, epanalepsis, and anadiplosis (ending and beginning). Repeating a phrase's structure creates a comparison figure, like K-Mart's slogan, "Your budget." "You have found quality." Words should have the same meaning to avoid antanaclasis.


Any system has excess regularity in many forms. When one transitions from iteration to parallelism, reversal combines opposites in one sentence. Mirror images are reflections. High/low and easy/tough are examples of binary pairings in English. When both duet members are featured in a message structure, antithesis results, like in this Pert Plus shampoo ad, "Beautiful." Knots are hard. " Like the Bounce Fabric Softener phrase, the chime adds parallelism.


The substitute rhetorical operation entails choosing a phrase the recipient needs to change to understand. Either tense method rotates a statement to change its meaning. Simple tropes formed through replacement have low resolution, while complex tropes created by destabilization have higher resolution. Substitution tropes can only be interpreted one way, so the receiver changes the sender's message. Substitutional tropes require a shift in a dimension or a preestablished link. Our examination of these advertisements focuses on four primary categories: hyperbole, ellipsis, aggressive power, and part-to-whole linkages (e.g., metonymy).


A destabilization is a rhetorical approach that uses confusing phrases. When we say something has multiple possible meanings, we mean none is conclusive. A substitutional cliché says something other than what is meant and expects the recipient to rectify it. In contrast, a destabilizing trope means more than is spoken and expects the recipient to develop the implications. Substitution and instability change everything. Destabilization can use animosity or likeness to create several meanings. Ironic figures use contrast. "The British have typically driven on the wrong side of the road," reads the Range Rover ad, showing a car careening off the road.

The reader of this headline needs to know that British drivers drive on the left side of the road (as so often happens, a rhetorical figure draws on a specific body of pre-existing sociocultural knowledge) and that the left side is correct in Britain, even though it may seem wrong to those accustomed to the alternative. The recipient may therefore assume that the "wrong" side of the road (i.e., off the road) is the "right" side for a 4-wheel drive car.


Rhetorical figures in advertising can only be understood by taking a text- and reader-aware approach to their construction and operation. Consumer research needs to pay more attention to the long-standing and widespread use of rhetorical figures in advertising. This is because consumer researchers need to have the right text-centered words (like scheme and trope) and have access to the necessary conceptual tools (like deviation).

Updated on: 02-May-2023


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