Behold… the Artifact!
Tacking up: getting
horse ready to ride.
lessons from visiting
Missing shoe: Big
an arm and a leg,
one more thing to
do- but your horse
will feel great!
Two text/image blocks,
each in three parts.
stands in for word, is
largest image on page.
Lots of white space,
instead of blocks, left
aligned instead of
centered, blue instead
of white, factual
Okay… some context please?
SmartPak Equine: Equine supplement company with
free shipping of supplements packaged in daily doses.
Practical Horseman: One of AIM Media’s 11 equestrian
magazines, targeted to avid, competitive English
Hey look! That’s me!
SmartPak Equine: One of us
Started by horsewoman with a business
Promotes friendly insider image
Website states: “Founded by riders and
horseowners for riders and
SmartPak founder Becky
Minard with business
partners and horse,
Wesley. From article in
Practical Horseman- more like
90% of subscribers are intermediate,
advanced, or professional riders
Magazine features a regular column by
George Morris, Chef d’Equipe of the USEF
Show Jumping Team, monthly features on
winning professionals, competition advice,
and detailed training exercises.
Articles as well as advertisements all
emphasize improving performance and
being a successful rider or horseperson.
It is not light reading!!
So what you’re telling me is…
Claim: SmartPak’s advertisement is highly effective
because it creates a dramatic narrative and deeply
appealing argument, tightly targeted to its audience but
with an underlying universal appeal.
Don’t just take my word for it- Walter Fisher and
Stephen Toulmin are backing me up on this!
Fisher’s Narrative Paradigm
Stories are a means of reasoning.
Narrative probability + Narrative fidelity = Narrative rationality
In other words: Coherence + Meaningfulness = Narrative rationality.
Comparison to life
experiences and ideal
standards of conduct
Toulmin’s Model of Argument
So, (Qualifier) Claim
Fisher himself considers the Toulmin model a way of
assessing narrative rationality, because we accept the
message of stories based on the quality of their
warrants, or good reasons.
How does this apply to that horseshoe ad?
go wrong at
one less thing
can go wrong.
C: Ordering from
peace of mind.
W: Having one
less thing to worry
peace of mind.
D: Your horse
is missing a
Oh no! Not another
Wow SmartPak, you’ve got a
Thanks for being there for
me, SmartPak! Now I can
move on to bigger
But wait- there’s more!
SmartPak’s claim is deeper than it seems to be…
peace of mind is broader than just supplements and
In fact, the narrative is all messed up- the problem of
the missing shoe is never even solved!
This is a break from classical narrative, in which conflict
escalates until the advertised product solves it.
Unless, of course, the conflict is not actually the
missing shoe, but something deeper… *gasp!!!*
“At the barn, sometimes all you can do is
expect the unexpected.”
My horse Topper died suddenly
before he was even 4 years old,
despite being perfectly healthy
when I rode him the day before.
My friend’s horse China is
still recovering from these
injuries sustained in a
“If you want one thing you can always count on,
order your horse’s supplements in SmartPaks.”
The narrative is messed up for a reason- the missing shoe isn’t the
real conflict, and SmartPak acknowledges that it cannot solve it.
The real conflict is the problem of uncertainty- no matter how
dedicated we are to our horses, we cannot guarantee their health or
We can guarantee their supplements though. SmartPak gives us
just a little more control over our horses’ wellbeing. It is at least
something we can rely on.
To wrap it up…
SmartPak’s advertisement uses narrative form to create a
vivid and familiar situation, making for strong narrative
The ad’s narrative fidelity is strong because of SmartPak’s
insider identity and its appeal to the values of Practical
This narrative is part of a Toulmin-style argument, the claim of
which is that buying SmartPak supplements increases
certainty and peace of mind.
This claim is the warrant, or good reason, for buying the
product. It is highly motivating because it appeals to the deep
human desire for certainty, particularly as it applies to our
beloved (and accident-prone) horses.
If I were to do more
research on this, I’d
look into visual
theory, as well as
But I’ll probably be
spending my time
with Zemo instead.
He’s cuter and