Sample Essay on Rhetoric of Advertisement

Rhetoric has been considered applicable in the verbal discourse in image advertising for a long time. The rhetoric images act on the consumer responses in the process of advertising. This paper will identify whether rhetoric strategies in advertising have been effective. The paper will review literature and the effect of media on the effective use of language. Several stylistic components of advertising will be studied in this paper, for instance, visual, verbal, and rhetoric figures on imagery and recall. These components have an effect on the mental imaging of human beings, which lead to a favorable attitude towards the advertisement. The rhetoric stylistic devices also have an effect on memorization that contributes to the positive aspect of the advertising action.

Rhetoric of Advertisement


There are several definitions that have been brought in reference to rhetoric strategies on advertising. However, a simple definition of rhetoric on advertisement implies all the range of arts used in communication of different kinds of messages using verbal and non-verbal means with an aim of persuading, convincing, or influencing the target audiences. In simpler terms, rhetoric is all the elements that are incorporated in capturing the attention of the receivers of adverts. These components are very significant in advertising. Advertising is all about influencing people to take some form of action, for instance, to buy a product.

The ancient Greek is considered as the original place where classical rhetoric began. One of the most renowned early forms of rhetoric was began by Aristotle’s On Rhetoric, which is a handbook that stated the characteristics and roles of classical rhetoric as well as acted as Aristotle’s lecture notes during the 4th century BCE (Aristotle, trans. Kennedy, 2007). The Sophists were also closely associated with classical rhetorics who were well skilled orators that who taught effective and persuasive speech as their way of earning a living. At one point, the sophists were known for great wisdom and virtue, skilled through applying the art of rhetoric to triumph in arguments. The sophists were also considered by some group of people as deceptive wordsmiths, a difference that was clear in Plato’s dialogues with Gorgias. In this conversation, Socrates questions the veracity of sophistry and accuses rhetoric as a channel that is used to obscure the truth.

The feeling that rhetoric teachings were distracting the aspect of seeking the truth was expanded in the 1500s when Petrus Ramus, who was a French scholar, made a decision that rhetoric teaching should only entail style and delivery (Sellberg, 2006). Therefore, this strategy invaded the rhetoric study from the other three components from Aristotelian elements of rhetoric that were memory, arrangement, and invention. At one point, Ramus notion of rhetoric was overridden by the concept that science and not rhetoric was to be the strategy in finding out the truth. The concept of rhetoric by Ramos, in addition to the enlightenments concentration on scientific study in the 18th century, was expanded in ensuring that generations still currently contribute to the reputation that the conception holds.

Ramus’s construction makes the idea that rhetoric is an important part of communication difficult. Therefore, if rhetoric is defined as the study and practice of persuasion, then the simplest message on earth has its concept. Since the times of the ancient Greeks, the notion of rhetoric analysis has been reconstructed over the years and currently applied to all different forms of messages and communication. The persuasive nature of messages is deconstructed in rhetoric analysis to comprehend how they persuade and acknowledge the context in which they shape as well determine their influence on individual’s perceptions, values, and actions.

According to Walker (2011), rhetoric analysis is significant in enabling individuals to be good advocates and judges, an important aspect in advertisements. Currently, advertisements have shifted from merely making rational arguments to providing consumers with information about different products, instead of persuading them all the time about buying the products. Advertising has become a platform of discourse upon which organizations interlink products with loaded narratives that are translated to put on pedestal values and lifestyles. This process offers audiences or potential consumers a chance to associate with the real image as presented on the advertisement through buying the product.



This study will be exploring the effectiveness and controversy of the rhetoric in advertising discourse. The question that will be guiding this essay is what is the nature and effectiveness of rhetoric on advertising? In answering the question, there are several components that the essay will tackle in exploring the dynamism and application of rhetoric in advertising with regards to target audiences or consumers.

Through the influence of cognitive approaches, the objective of advertising is aimed at transmitting information on positively assessed attitudes.  Several theories have been brought forth, for instance, the Elaboration Likelihood Model, which recommend that there is a need and opportunity to realize that one way to have a successful outcome in advertising can be peripheral, heuristic, or transformational. The other way does not rely on the successful transmission of positive information but rather on the evaluated attributes that are attached to the advertisement. This comes as a result of short-lived judgments that are expressed in simple inferences that emerge from the exposure to enthusiastically administered cues. One of the biggest questions with regards to advertising is the way the advertising messages are structured and not the attributes that are claimed. This means that in advertising, message styles are significant as the message content itself. A rhetoric figure entails applicable stylistic devices that are incorporated in advertising. For example, when persuasion is the intention of advertising, the rhetoric perspective proposes that the significant aspect is the way the discourse expresses more than the content. It incorporates discursive typology as well as the rhetorical division of all the discourse entailed.

Several studies have also indicated that there is unending interest that has been invested in rhetoric advertising (Bratu, 2010). According to several researches that have been concluded, it has been established that rhetoric figures have been employed in several advertising aspects that have had a meaningful influence on the consumer behavior. There are several effects of rhetoric advertising with regards to the role of imagination on the process of mental imagery. Additionally, rhetoric advertising is also responded in terms of emotions and the immersion effects that are as result of experiences. The general effect reaction is represented by the general attitude to the advert or the brand.

Currently, advertising has become pervasive, entailing persuasion messages from all corners. Through different advertising platforms like radio, television, and Internet, people are always persuaded to believe in something or behave in a particular manner. In the rhetoric analysis of advertising, there is an aspect of artful deviation from the normal mode of expression that is presented. This occurs when expression moves away from the norm, become defective, and deviates in form rather than content to specific contexts. Over the years, several advertisers have employed several strategies in advertising.

Rhetorical controversy involving advertisement

Rhetorical advertising in the modern world has created a situation where individuals come across myriad of messages on daily basis. In order to get noticed in the thousands of messages and images different the media, advertising practitioners have come up with ways if using controversial images and messages for instance violence. This has also intensified the use of extreme rhetoric controversial devices. Some of the psychological determinants of viewer’s response to some of these advertisements have been quite elusive. This aspect has brought about different controversies and questions that have been brought forth. Some of the rhetoric advertisements have employed the use violence in visual or language. This is found in films, clips, video games and others that have been associated with aggressive conducts thus creating a hostile environment.

In addition, we have established that rhetoric advertising can influence consumers. This therefore calls for ethical requirements for all the persuasion languages. There are also cases whereby ad practitioners’ intentions are only to create an influence through distorted facts in order to manipulate the audiences by laying with their thoughts and attitudes. These are ethical standards and responsibilities that should be upheld by all advertisers in creating advertisements.

Another aspect that has brought about rhetoric controversy in advertising is the presentation of women perceived to be harmful to their bodies and to women as a whole. Most of these advertisements are leading to several instances where issues of emulating the bodies of women represented in the adverts are causing a societal conflict. The advert practitioners like photographers and other experts are being paid huge sums of money to take images that show women as freak, weak and almost naked. The organizations that sponsor these rhetoric advertisements are some of biggest name in the world arena of fashion, tobacco or alcohol. The designers on the other hand are also making huge moneys in every consumer of the products that are being harmed by the products. This is because women in most cases take some of the images as gospel truth. For instance, if an organization present an advert campaign of its product deeming that skinny, sickly pale women are sexy, the ladies will not at any point refute the claims instead will go ahead a purchase the product. In an advert like in Estee Launder, it goes ahead and boasts that the three models presented are a real definition of what beauty means. One of the models is actually Elizabeth Hurley. If for sure that is the true definition of beauty then where would the rest of the women fit? How they are also supposed to feel about their bodies and how they look? The advert is implying setting the standard of beauty and nothing less.

Generally, the main reason for advertising is not only to inform but also to persuade, thus advertising entailing numerous rhetorical devices. Advertising relies on verbal and non-verbal components. Emotional appeals that are entailed in adverts functions in the same manner in which the value about them is written on the arguments. Most of the ads address consumers directly using the word “you” an important element in emotional appealing.

Little research has been however carried out to identify controversial rhetoric advertising that has elicited emotional effects and other aspects surrounding the abrasive advertisements. Controversial rhetoric advertisements have the potential to elicit emotion among the viewers in their presentations. These is because advertisement as part of modern communication, has an impact on the target audiences they relay meaning to. One of the major element of rhetoric advertising controversy is the use of images that are deemed to have an intense emotional impact as compared to text in advertising.

The life of human beings can be affected by emotionally charged images that may alter contemporary ways of thinking and interpreting concepts. One of the most common ways that persons are challenged in their views is through presentation of images that are shocking and surprising. Some of these images are presented in rhetoric advertisements. In the process of questioning these images that are presented in rhetoric advertisement, many people are lead to a different way of thinking an aspect that brings out issue of a disturbing image in advertising. Perhaps, the major reason why these rhetoric advertising images are disturbing is the fact they are displaced from their original their original framework and transformed into a totally new perspective. Consequently, audiences of the rhetoric advert presentation end up feeling transplanted alongside the subject. These alteration of the context is actually what triggers audience’s attention to the controversial rhetoric advert images and a cause of the shock and surprise that is felt. In most instances, images that attract people’s attention are always shocking and controversial to an extent they cause a feeling of irritation that comes out as a result of our cultural, social and moral discourses. The controversy here is that these form of irritation in rhetoric advertising image presentation can impact character positively or negatively as a result of the different outlook of the image that we are not used to.

Moreover, with an increase controversy in rhetoric advertising through composite images, definitely affects ethics. The process of rhetoric advertisement entails transferring context from a subject to another especially through imaging. This process is at the risk of creating an overall rhetoric that impacts on the good of the society. Most of these rhetoric presentations do not go alongside the societal norms and requirements.

Individuals are naturally persuaded to make a judgment, however, there are mostly influenced by the intricacies of emotions. Every person has a different set of emotions that arise from the experiences and life events that one has gone through. Due to these wide range of emotions, there are different interpretation to a particular concept. Within consideration, it is therefore hard to establish as general supposition when it entails how one view or interstaters a controversial rhetoric advertisement image. Nevertheless, there are some elements, which that are both internal and external that are considered when trying to understand ones emotions and with regards to these advertisements. Several individuals are influenced by the environment. In as much as in might look simple to conclude that audiences or consumers are able to perceive an objects of advert without the interference of the environment, this is not always the case. Individual’s personality is shaped by the things they do as daily routines or encounter through work, school or any daily engagement. Past experience also alters individual’s personality as well as social groupings. In this respect, it is significant to note that social groupings have an intense influence on how images of advertisements are perceived. These groups are definitely brought together by a common factor, therefore a rhetoric advertisement can bring about a controversy by different opinions, which can alter people opinion and beliefs. This means that the interpretation does not only touch of the image or advert but also to the brand of the rhetoric advertisement thereby creating controversy.

Rhetorical Strategies in Advertising and their effects

There are different categories of rhetorical strategies used in advertising. The two main categories are verbal and visual strategies. In this section, we are going to focus on the effectiveness of rhetoric devices entailed in advertising. We shall look at advertising in different forms including the simple rhetoric devices entailed, their uses in the advertising as well as examining the entire adverts and assessing how all the entire features make them effective in their objective. As indicated earlier, the main objective of rhetoric advertisement is to make the familiar strange. This is not intended to confuse the reader or viewer of the advert but rather is to implant a significant idea, image or figure of speech or a memorable rhyme into the mind of the target audiences. Most of the advertiser employs rhetoric devices to induce the emotions of the potential consumers. The most significant intention of the rhetoric I advertising is to produce sales through implanting in the consumers’ minds the need to have a given product or services. This aspect therefore makes use of the ancient rhetorical aspects that are memorable and manipulative. In this respect, many classics use din rhetoric does not consider the truth but focus on persuasion. In as much as this statement may not go well with many thinkers, to advertisers it is the stock of their sales. One of the major goals of advertising is creating a desire then a need in the minds of the consumer. This has been the same approach used to convince consumers.

It is important to know that magazine adverts are more superior forms of advertising. This is because of several reasons for instance, they are enjoyable, contain valuable detail information, their ads move readers, the ads on it sells and the ads on it are considered relevant and many others. In order to get a clear picture of rhetoric advertisement in this discussion, we shall focus more on magazine advertising.

Rhetorical Strategies in Advertising and their Effects

There are different categories of rhetorical strategies used in advertising. The two main categories are verbal and visual strategies. This section will focus on the effectiveness of rhetoric devices entailed in advertising. The section will discuss advertising in different forms including the simple rhetoric devices entailed, their uses in the advertising, as well as examining the entire adverts and assessing how all the entire features make them effective in their objective. As indicated earlier, the main objective of rhetoric advertisement is to make the familiar strange. This is not intended to confuse the reader or viewer of the advert but rather to implant a significant idea, image or figure of speech or a memorable rhyme into the mind of the target audiences. Most of the advertisers employ rhetoric devices to induce the emotions of the potential consumers. The most significant intention of rhetoric in advertising is to produce sales through implanting in the consumers’ minds the need to have a given product or services. This aspect, therefore, makes use of the ancient rhetorical aspects, which are memorable and manipulative. In this respect, many classics used in rhetoric do not consider the truth but focus on persuasion. In as much as this statement may not be accepted by many thinkers, to advertisers, it is the stock of their sales. One of the major goals of advertising is creating a desire then a need in the minds of the consumer. This has been the same approach used to convince consumers.

It is important to know that magazine adverts are superior forms of advertising. This is because of several reasons, for instance, they are enjoyable, contain valuable detailed information, their ads move readers, the ads on magazines sell, and are considered relevant. To get a clear picture of rhetoric advertisement in this discussion, the paper shall focus more on magazine advertising.

Rhetoric Imagery

The use of rhetoric imagery components appeals to the five senses of human beings: sight, smell, sound, taste, and touch, which are strongest tools in advertising. It is crucial to note that a fundamental point should be recognized before any sense analysis of an advert is made to understand the combinations effectively. All individuals seem to have a relation to a particular color, and have the capability of evoking texture in visual images. There are two basic categories of colors: warm and cool. For instance, red and orange are warm while blues and green are cool colors respectively. There are many more evoking effects that different colors create, for instance, red and green create hunger and are considered Christmas colors according to different contexts. Other colors, such as pastel pink are associated with baby girls while pastel blue with baby boys.

The advert below on McDonalds appeals to all the five senses of an individual (See fig 1). The large salad is partnered with a white lady and the white man, the hotels worker. Viewers’ eyes are spread across the salad and the woman with three aspects that are vivid in the advertisement. The first one is the size of the lady, which targets ladies such that when they eat the McDonalds, they can shape their bodies.  Secondly, the use of red in the advert encourages a hunger and a warm receptive welcome to the restaurant. The salad placed on the plate is invitingly cool, which appeals to both the taste and touch, creating a delicious imagination. This rhetoric imagery is an example of how appealing to the hungry reader it can be, especially the one who wants to be thinner.


Rhythm in rhetoric advertisement entails linguistic elements, such as parallel words, repetition of words, alliteration, and rhyming words. Language is significant in determining rhythm that can be used in the advertisement language. For instance, in the middle ages of Chaucer, English language had been influenced through the infiltration of French, Italian, and Anglo-Saxon languages (Curran, 2002). When the English language emerged from the three combinations, it had developed a unique rhythm patters that could not be similar to the three languages. In as much the languages shared some similarities in roots, and connotative, English was exceptional. While some languages have these case endings for rhyme and rhythm, English language is more difficult in this case application. This means that English rhymes are very powerful and strong when they are applied and used skillfully.

Advertisers must come up with an action plan in making sure that adverts are easily memorized by the listeners and viewers. Rhythm employed in advertising should be very quick, easily repeated, and memorable to jingle with in order to stick to the potential consumers’ minds. There are different kinds of rhetoric devices that are used to create rhythm in advertising: parallel structure, repetition of words, alliteration, and antithesis. Parallel structure relates directly to the geometrical aspect of parallel lines. The parallel line words in the advert are represented to lie beside each other in a linguistic form, for instance “I came, I saw, I conquered”. Parallel words appear grammatically in the same form in an advert like the ones above, which are in the same simple clause. They all start with “I”, and simple past tense verb with same simple past tense verb. In another example, parallel words can also be applied by keeping all the advertising list words in the same form. For instance, if the product or services are purchased from many locations, it can be represented as “it can be bought from hardware stores, discount stores, or grocery stores.” This entails adjectival forms of words used as nouns modified by the adjectives to make the parallel complete.

Parallel words are very significant in all forms of writing but in this case, they are important in rhetoric advertising because they help to make the jingle in them memorable, which is the utmost goal of any advertising campaign.

Repetition of words is also another common element in rhetoric advertisement.  If one viewer of an advert can detect repetition and the other one cannot, possibly the second user might be a regular user of the product, thus, not scrutinizing the advert in details. Most adverts contain repetition as a major theme that can be verbal or visual. Alliteration is also another element applied in rhetoric advertising. This entails sound similarities used in creating interest and attitudes in adverts. In advertising, alliteration is also significant since it creates attention to both sound and rhythm. There are many more advertising languages that entail rhetoric. Linguistic rhetoric in advertising is a gigantic model in advertising that makes the advertising effective.


Symbolism refers to an object that may stand in for another object. Symbolism is not universal. Several items and elements stand for different things among different cultures. For instance, white color stands for purity in the west and for death among the Asia nations. Advertising rhetoric symbols are applied in a very opaque and obvious way to the reader. This is meant to give an advertising statement a very positive approval in the minds of the audiences. The products advert in symbolism will always be used in the advert even if the product is the symbol itself. However, many adverts through rhetoric symbolism make the product in the advert to be more stimulating to the audiences.


Hyperbole refers to exaggeration used in the advertising language that is hardly noticeable. Hyperbole is very common in advertising language and can be in a visual form. One type of hyperbole used in advertising is “puffery” that entails creation of products’ expectation in the minds of the viewer through advertisement that no product can never achieve. For instance, an advert indicating something like “Nail growth Miracle” is a good example of hyperbole. For an advert to be successful, there must be elements of rhetoric strategies that will motivate and engage potential buyers. However, the outcomes will never be the same as anticipated.

Effects of Rhetorical Figures

There is a resolution of rhetoric figures generated when one looks at the relationship that exists between the literal sense and the figurative one (Ortiz, 2010). According to psychology, elaboration refers to the process whereby information is incorporated with knowledge structure in the memory, which can be in discursive or visual form. In the rhetoric advertising context, elaboration is created by incompatibility by a deviation. The essential property of rhetoric figures, which creates elaboration, is simply the deviation from what is observed in the advertising figures. This can cause the advertising audience to want to know the reasons that led to the application of the deviation (Ahluwlia & Burnkrant, 2004). The interpretation of the message in rhetorical advertising figures is deeper than explicit messages. The receiver of the message is required to find deeper meaning from the literal meaning, thereby getting the solution to the incompatibility of the figure presented. This implies that adverts using rhetorical figures increase the elaboration need where the receiver thinks about the message, s about it, and develops a response towards the same.

Reading advertisement containing rhetoric figures can result in several interpretations (Jeong, 2008). This is as a result of the deviation of the figures with regards to what is keenly observed by the audiences. The unusual message will then create a positive attitude towards the advertisement. This is because the advertisement with rhetoric devices has an effect on the message being passed across through the levels of subjective comprehension model. Through figures, the audience is able to have positive responses to the advertisement because of the satisfaction and feeling of accomplishment as a result of decoding the hidden sense (Toncar & Munch, 2001). The receiver of the advert will therefore be triggered to look at the entire advertisement with a positive attitude. This pleasure is a result of the positive successful resolution of incongruity.


The advertising industry has always come up with innovative ways of attracting consumers to purchase their products and services. However, the rhetoric in advertising has brought about several aspects that have transformed the sector. A critical study in this section indicated that rhetoric in advertising is effective. This is through understanding how messages and visual images are taken by the potential consumers in their decision-making about purchasing. It is evident that conclusions drawn by the consumer about a given brand through rhetoric advertising enable them to develop a positive attitude towards a given brand. In addition, it is clear that rhetoric advertising involvement has a direct effect on the relationship between figures created through rhetoric and attitude towards the advertisement. Many people tend to concentrate on the peripheral components of the rhetoric advertisements rather than the real content of the message. When receivers of messages are superficially or weakly involved, the rhetoric attracts the intention. The receiver goes ahead to engage him/herself in the resolution process of the figure, thereby creating a constructive attitude towards the advertisement. Generally, rhetoric in advertisement has positive effects on products and services.


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