The Critique of “Advertising’s Fifteen Basic Appeals”

Advertisements are part of our daily lives and they are inextricably linked. Since we were young, the world was at our fingertips, bombarded with a society that has been shaped by advertising. Advertisements make a great impact in our lives that influence our decision-making and buying habits, even changing our perception of certain products or services. “Advertising’s Fifteen Basic Appeals” is an informative and educational article, which is written by Jib Fowles, a professor of Communication at the University of Houston Clear Lake. This article first appeared in Etc. 39:3 (1982) and was reprinted in the college textbook – Advertising and Popular Culture (1996). In the “Advertising’s Fifteen Basic Appeals”, Fowles provides readers with a set of information that discusses how advertising contains certain unconscious emotional appeals which fall into fifteen distinguishable categories. Besides that, he also explains how advertisers try to influence consumers through various physiological and psychological levels. This article educates advertisers and college students who are majoring in advertising on how to make effective advertisements. Also, Fowles analyzes tactics that advertisers use and gives readers his opinions and suggestions on how to make an advertisement more effective (539-556). To provide a good source of information, the author himself should be credible in order to make readers believe that his article contains credible and valuable information. Not only is the credibility of the author important, but also the content of the article should be thorough and detailed so that it can help readers get good quality information. Finally, Fowles did a great job organizing his article. It was easy for readers to follow his steps throughout the whole article because of the sub-tittles he provided for each appeal. Based on these criteria’s, I believe Fowles’ article is a good source of information for readers and the information and general knowledge of advertising that he provided might be helpful for advertisers and students in the future.

Jib Fowles, who is a professor of Communication at the University of Houston Clear Lake, has been working in the social science field for over 30 years. Fowles has written an abundant amount of articles and books on popular media; such as Mass Advertising as Social Forecast: A method for Futures Research (1976), Why Viewers Watch: A Reappraisal of Television’s Effects (1992) and The Case of Television Violence (1999)(539). All of his articles and books have appeared in publications, proving that Fowles has the ability to gain exposure of his articles to the public. Besides that, Fowles, used to work with Henry A. Murray who is a psychologist at the Harvard Psychological Clinic where Murray and his colleagues conduct the full taxonomy of need (Fowles 543). As Fowles has demonstrated his expertise in the social science area and provided readers with his teaching and working experience as a supportive point, it helps him establish his trustworthy image.

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As an informative author, Fowles provided thorough and detailed information in order to make sure his readers understood his points easily. He listed out all of the fifteen basic appeals of advertising, described the individual appeals and gave examples from contemporary print and broadcast ads that might occur to readers (542-56). It made the ads more relevant so that it could be applied in the daily life of readers. For example, the definition of the need to achieve, which according to Murray is an admiration to accomplish something difficult, to overcome obstacles and to attain a high standard, to excel one’s self, to rival and surpass others (548). Fowles gives his readers several examples of certain products that advertise themselves in the best way by trying to make contact with consumers needs to succeed (549). Besides that, advertisers are trying to implement messages, both hidden and apparent, in which these needs stir wants, indirectly manipulating consumers’ decisions. In this article, Fowles also shares his opinions of the tactics that advertisers use and discusses the different styles of advertisements. He clarifies the general concept of how effective advertisements work and how does it effect consumer perception of certain products (542-56). The information that is provided by Fowles stirs up interest in readers, making them want more.

In addition to the above, well organized “Advertising’s Fifteen Basic Appeals” article is also a main reason why it is a good source of information. Fowles organized this article systematically by using bold heading, a small title for every appeal and a list that stated the appeals that he was going to discuss (540-556). All of these make a reader follow his messages easily and makes digestion of information easier. Instead of putting all the appeals in one paragraph, Fowles separates the fifteen appeals into individual paragraphs by following the needs of different titles (543-53). At a glance, readers can find the information they want easily by searching titles, which interest them. Having a good title draws a reader’s attention and does not let the content mislead the reader.

On one hand, these criteria can support this articles claim as a good source of information, but on the other hand, the information might be outdated and invalid. Since this article has existed over 30 years, even the advertisements platform and society has changed. The examples that Fowles provided might not be related to the reader’s current life. It would be a hard task for readers to understand the outdated information. Even though advertisements might be nugatory and possibly readers will not be familiar with the examples given, basic human needs are still the same overtime (542-53). Readers can still understand the concept of the appeals and set a new example for themselves. Outdated information might not be an issue big enough to make Fowles’ article invalid. However it makes readers think further on how to apply the advertisements that they are familiar with in order to meet their needs.

“Advertising’s Fifteen Basic Appeals” is a timeless article that provides useful references for the public, especially for advertisers and students who are majoring in advertising. By analyzing Fowles’ article, I realized that we are confronted daily by hundreds of advertisements, only a few of which can actually attract our attention. That is the message Fowles’ article is trying to transmit, how “Advertising’s Fifteen Basic Appeals” make an effective advertisement. I believe that Fowles article is a good source of information, not only does it contain valuable information, but also he shares his opinions of his general knowledge of advertising that we, the readers, can apply to our future.

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