The Art of Rhetoric How do we know who to trust… … and how do they know how to get us to trust them?
The Art of Rhetoric: Rhetoric (n) - the art of speaking or writing effectively. (or as I like to call it Fleeg-toric…except I didn ’t invent it…and that doesn’t even sound right… ;)
According to Aristotle, rhetoric is "the ability, in each particular case, to see the available means of persuasion." He described three main forms of rhetoric: Ethos , Logos , and Pathos .
In order to be a more effective writer, you must understand these three terms.
‘ Ethos’ is appeal based on the character of the speaker. An ethos-driven document relies on the reputation of the author.
‘ Logos’ is appeal based on logic or reason. Documents distributed by companies or corporations are logos-driven. Scholarly documents are also often logos-driven.
‘ Pathos’ is appeal based on emotion. Advertisements tend to be pathos-driven. Just be careful with these – they really tug on your ‘heart strings’.
Acme Gizmotronics , the company that you've trusted for over 100 years, has recently entered the World Wide Web! Now you can purchase our fine products through the internet. Our quality gizmos, widgets, and thingamabobs can be shipped to you within minutes. All come with the famous lifetime guarantee that makes Acme the company that the world depends on for it's gizmo needs.
ACME's new dihydro-cesium detonation process
By combining cesium and dihydro-oxide in laboratory conditions, and capturing the released energy, ACME has promised to lead the way into the future. Our energy source is clean, safe, and powerful. No pollutants are released into the atmosphere. The world will soon have an excellent source of clean energy.
Cesium-Based Reactor Kills!
Back to reality - ACME is not a real company, contrary to popular belief. It's something we made up to use as an example of Ethos . The ACME homepage is an example of ethos because of the way it keeps referring back to the character of ACME. ACME is a company that "you have trusted for over 100 years." They even have a spokesperson vouching for their integrity.
Logos is an argument based on logic or reason. The ACME Research page is primarily logos-based because it appeals to the reason of people reading it. It suggests that Cesium will provide the world's energy for a very long time. It is clean, safe, and efficient, all of which are appeals to the logic of the audience. By using such convincing reasons in it's argument, ACME hopes to provide the world's energy.
Pathos is an argument based on emotion, playing on sympathy, fears, and desires. The Say "NO!" To Acme! page is pathos-based because it relies on an emotional response from the people reading it. By stressing the helplessness of the (endangered) turtle, it attempts to sway people to its side, against the " commercial hordes " of Acme.
Are these rhetorical devices used in commercials? If you feel the answer is ‘yes’ please choose a commercial you’ve seen recently, or one that you can’t forget no matter how much you’ve tried, and explain which rhetorical devices are used…and if they’re effective.
If you feel the answer is ‘no’…I ‘beg’ you to reconsider your answer…see how easy that was to use rhetoric, beg=emotional appeal .
Brainstorm a commercial campaign for an imaginary product using an imaginary representative. Each campaign should be based on one of the three tenets of Rhetoric. It might even use more than one. Frequently, these campaign ’s come with marketing packages…such as symbols that can easily be identified and a consumer can connect to it in an imaginary ‘relationship’.
Then again you might really have liked Geckos your whole life and always thought they were ‘cute’ or ‘cool’ and knew lots of things about car insurance…then again it could be a false expert=ethos , demonstrating circular (fake) logic=logos , who just happens to have big eyes and be small and gosh darned cute like a little teddy bear..hmm..I might have gotten carried away there, emotion=pathos .
*please take a look at the ‘real’ story below that Geico doesn’t want you to see...
Of course what you see above isn ’t ‘real’ either… (except picture 3 – I really surprised that lizard) . We might just have to accept that sometimes we hear, or see, what we choose to believe …or I’m wrong…and I just happen to have a great deal for you!