Visual Rhetoric Analysis
Haley Seay Ms. Tracey Thornton ENC 1101 Visual Rhetoric Analysis 2 October 2012 Advertisements are the most commonly used way to sell and market a product or message. Although we may not realize it while watching or seeing the advertisement, there are many underlying factors that cause us to buy into the advertisement. Whether it may be the color, picture, text, or sound; the advertisers find a way to draw us in without even a second thought. Many advertisers focus on guilt, they try to find a soft spot with in us by showing us those that are less fortunate than us. Don’t you feel bad that you are so fortunate and these people are living like this? Give to them, help them, give up your luxuries, and share with them. ” This is the message that many companies and organizations are trying to convey when they post advertisements showing people in third world countries struggling. Cordaids advertisements are making big spenders in America feel guilty in order to help their cause of helping the less fortunate in third world countries.
In this advertisement a foundation called Cordaid is trying to show how our money being spent on luxuries in America can benefit those in third world countries. This specific advertisement shows a skinny almost malnourished looking person lying on the ground in a third world country. Their race is black and they are wearing dirty torn up clothing that looks like rags just tied around them. What is in the persons hand though? In one advertisement they are holding a leather purse, in another Versace sunglasses, a bottle of aftershave, and in another a pint of beer.
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They are showing us Seay 2 What we spend our money on; what our casual luxuries that we buy without even thinking are. Underneath the labels of those luxuries, are necessities for people in these third world countries that we could buy for the same price or cheaper. What do we all think when we see advertisements like these? “How could I be so selfish? “, “Those poor people. “, “I want to help. ” Maybe we feel guilty? That is what this foundation wants us to do, they guilt us into donating or helping.
They target Americans as their audience because Americans live the most luxurious. They are implying that if we have the money to spend on things as simple as handbags, perfume, sunglasses, and beer then shouldn’t we have the money to spend on helping people in third world countries? They are using emotional appeals on their audience. Guilt is the first emotion that comes to mind when seeing these advertisements. Take notice of how the advertisements do not tell us where it is taken place. It could be Africa or maybe Haiti?
It does not say, and when you try to look it up it will not tell you either. They are generalizing that all third world countries are like this. “Donate to them all, help them all. ” Not one third world country, but all of them is who they are using for their main idea of the advertisement. So why would we ask questions? We see the ad and we donate, as simple as that. The advertisement does not focus on the needs of these under privileged people, but on how we could change our lifestyles to help them.
The ad provides no background information or support to what is going on and what the purpose of the foundation is. It simply sends across the message of “Hey, you’re wasting your money on yourself instead of using it to help these people. You should feel bad. ” Seay 3 This advertisement also contributes to the stereotype that all Americans are selfish or greedy. It brings upon us the feeling of guilt and of shame for spending our extra money on luxuries. Are all Americans are greedy, just because we don’t spend our money on underprivileged people from other countries?
No. This advertisement is targeted to make us feel this way, to make us feel as though we can do more. Are they going to congratulate any Americans for donating money to underprivileged people in our own country? No. Again, it is the emotional appeal. Guilt, shame, and a little bit more guilt. Nowhere does it say that Americans are greedy or selfish, and nowhere does it say that we have to donate. But by looking at this image we see that we get something we want with money that could buy them something they need.
So is it a dig at Americans? The answer to that is yes. If you take notice of the clothing that the people in these advertisements are wearing than you will notice that their physical appearances are also contributing to the message that the advertisement is trying to convey. The images will make us look at ourselves and compare our physical appearances to theirs, which adds on to the guilt factor that the company is trying to make us feel. Everything that is going on in the image is adding on to the emotions that they want us to feel.
The appearance of the people especially makes us feel that way. The writing on the image does that as well, it compares the cost of our luxuries and the cost of their necessities to live and puts It right there in front of our eyes. Seay 4 Do you still feel guilty about your big spending? Or do you think that Cordaids “People in need” campaign is just down right unethical? Regardless of your opinion, hopefully you can now realize all the factors that these campaigners put into their advertisements to make us feel the way they want us to feel.