Before the introduction of the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act, the tobacco advertising was a common way of increasing the profit of the tobacco industry. Tobacco ads could be seen everywhere, from television channels to street big boards. Due to the fact that tobacco products are perceived by society-at-large as having a negative effect on individual’s health, the tobacco advertisers channeled more efforts and energy into creating persuasive and bright ads to influence their target audiences. Such ads therefore provide a good ground for analysis of the use of different rhetorical appeals in the advertisement industry. One example of cigarettes advertising is an ad of a famous brand Camel Cigarettes that starred John Wayne in 1950. The analysis of the ad demonstrates that the Camel advertisers used pathos to appeal to men’s desire to be popular among women, logos to illustrate the positive effect of Camel cigarettes on smoker’s health and ethos to emphasize the perceived connection between smoking and masculinity.
Whilst the target audience of the ad are men, it also contains a small photo of a beautiful woman in the corner to emphasize the perceived connection between men who smoke Camel cigarettes and their popularity among women, thus appealing to men’s emotions and ambitions. In addition to this, in the photo a woman’s T-zone (the area around her mouth) is defined with a small ‘T’ letter. This area of face is often associated with kisses, the ad therefore contains an implicit message that smoking Camel cigarettes will make more women willing to kiss you. The ad thus appeals to men’s emotions, such as the desire to be perceived as attractive by the opposite sex, the desire to have physical contact with women etc. It is important to note, however, that the photo might also have an additional goal, which is to encourage female customers to buy Camel cigarettes. Namely, the woman in the photo also holds a cigarette. According to this interpretation, the advertisers use logos to emphasize the absence of irritation in women’s T-zone.
The ad also uses reasoning when emphasizing the positive effect of Camel cigarettes on one’s throat. More specifically, the ad contains information about John Wayne’s 30-days-long testing of Camel cigarettes. According to the actor, his own T-zone told him how mild and good tasting a cigarette can be (The Telegraph, 2012). The ad thus uses logic appeal to persuade the audience that the claim that it makes in reasonable. It provides an example of the use of empirical findings in advertising industry, when arguing that a 30-days-long test shows that Camel cigarettes do not irritate your throat. In addition to this, the ad contains an arguable claim that there has been no one single case of throat irritation (The Telegraph, 2012). The ad thus encourages the audience to buy Camel cigarettes by providing evidence of the absence of negative consequences of these particular cigarettes to a smoker’s health.
The ad also employs ethical devices to establish the credibility of the speaker. The ad cites John Wayne’s words, ‘I have been around movie sets long enough to know how important cigarette mildness is to an actor’ (The Telegraph). More specifically, the ad emphasizes John Wayne’s rich experience in acting career, where clear throat is an essential element of a successful actor, to persuade the audience of a positive effect of Camel cigarettes on smokers’ health. In addition to this, the photo of John Wayne shows him as a representative of the so called hegemonic, or the dominant masculinity. He is a handsome white muscled middle-aged man who is successful in his career and probably popular among women. In other words, he has the so called WASP status, which is often an unobtainable goal for many men. The image of John Wayne in this advertisement is desirable, and the information that he provides is more likely to be accepted by the audience who tries to resemble him.
In conclusion, it is challenging to advertise products of the tobacco industry because of the negative effect of these products on human health that is often understood by the majority of the audience. Therefore, cigarette ads usually employ all three rhetorical appeals – reasoning, character and emotions. The ad of Camel cigarettes appeals to men’s emotions when trying to establish the perceived connection between cigarette smoking and one’s popularity among women. In addition to this, the ad uses reasoning to persuade the audience to buy the respective brand of tobacco products. It provides the findings of long-term experiments and some evidence on health condition of Camel cigarette smokers. Finally, in order to establish credibility of the information provided, the advertisers used the image of John Wayne, who is successful in his acting career, where the strong voice is a so much needed element of success. In addition to his professional background, the speaker is a handsome and powerful man, and the association between him and cigarettes is likely to have a stronger influence on the audience. The ad thus provides an understanding of the types of appeals that are used to attract male customers. It is safe to assume that the ways in which advertising companies use rhetorical appeals to attract female customers are different, therefore, further examination of tobacco ads is needed to acquire a better understanding of this area of advertising.
- The Telegraph. (2012). Vintage Tabacco Advertising: How Cigarette Adverts Have Changed Over the Years? Retrieved March 19, 2016, from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/pictures/8620411/Vintage-tobacco-advertising-how-cigarette-adverts-have-changed-over-the-years.html?image=3