Cigarette Ads: the Magic of Persuasion

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This advertisement much like many anti smoking advertisements probably appeared in a magazine. I was unable to find where it came from exactly or who made it. The intended audience is for this advertisement is someone who smokes or some someone who wants to quit smoking. Anti smoking ads have been around for a long time and they all have the same underlying message to convince someone to stop smoking. Some are more effective than others. Most anti smoking ads use a lot of pathos to appeal to their audiences. This one is no exception to that description. What I did find interesting about this picture is the sense of urgency that it brings. A lot of non smoking ads are weighed heavily on using pathos because now days it is common knowledge that smoking is bad for one’s health. Some of the first anti-smoking ads used a lot of ethos they would have famous actors talk about the diseases they have from smoking. But today ads have the unique opportunity that most ads don’t get; for the most part they don’t have to use ethos or logos. Because the majority of the population already believes that smoking is bad so these ads are already credible. And for most people it already seems logical to quit smoking so they don’t have to use logos. Most of the ads still use ethos and logos but not nearly as much as pathos is being used. This allows anti-smoking ads to be very dramatic. And its main point is just like every other anti smoking ad, smoking is bad for you and it will eventually kill you.

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To describe this picture, as previously mention the sense of urgency of this ad is almost unbearable. Its main claim is that smoking will eventually kill you. At the bottom of the photo is says “Every breath you take will eventually destroy your future”. The rest of the photo on the left side is a lit lighter and it shows a roll of cigarettes that are supposed to represent dynamite sticks. Then behind the cigarettes is a ticking clock and there is a wick connecting the two. Just like every smoking ad you will ever see this one is very dramatic. There are a few things that is does well and few that don’t make sense. It does bring that sense of urgency which this sense of urgency is there for two reasons first; the lighter about to light the wick, second; is the clock behind the buddle of cigarettes. There is an issue with that; the clock is there to make it seem like the cigarettes is a ticking time bomb. This is another great example of how these cigarette ads don’t have to use logos. It is there purpose to be dramatic.

This ad cause people to act instead of just scaring them, most other anti-smoking ads just try to scare people or make people uncomfortable most do this while throwing in a statistic that goes along with the point they are trying to make. Not a lot of ads have the sense of urgency like this one does. There are two reasons this sense of urgency is there. It goes back to the lighter and the clock. The lighter is lit, even though it is a photo you can tell the lighter is moving closer to the wick conveying a message that time is short. The other aspect that is making this ad urgent is the clock that is placed behind the bundle of cigarettes/dynamite sticks. Clocks or timers no matter what ad or photo, clocks are there to show that time is moving even though it is a still picture. There is always one thing that doesn’t stop, and its time.

This ad is very dramatic, like I explained before cigarette ads have this ability to be a dramatic as they want and it doesn’t have to be logical. One aspect of this picture I find very dramatic and somewhat illogical is having a lighter and timer together. Just to prove my point below is a picture of a time bomb and stick of dynamite. They don’t have both a wick and a timer. They have one or the other. If you have a timer on a bomb you don’t need a lighter. And if you have a lighter to light your bomb you don’t need a timer. This shows that the ad above is going along with the anti smoking ad trend of being very dramatic. At the same time this is what makes this ad effective It would not be as dramatic if only the timer was there by itself, having both in the photo just ads that much more to the drama of the.

Anti smoking ads have come a long way from where they used to be. I have explained how they are today they are heavily weighed to appeal to peoples pathos side. That is not how they used to be. Just to compare I found one of the first anti smoking ads I could find. It was a T.V. commercial filmed with a famous actor William Talman and it aired in 1968. It starts out with Talman talking about his family and showing clips of them while he talks about them. Then it shows Mr. Talman he is dressed in a nice suite standing in front of his fire place. He goes on to say that he has lung cancer and he is losing the fight. Then he says how he doesn’t like to loose then he tell the audience to not be losers, then the commercial ends this ad is completely different from what we see today. This ad uses a lot more ethos because it is using a famous actor for credibility. But is still uses pathos when he is talking about his family. This ad is not dramatic and it’s not unbelievable. A huge difference from what we see today. William Talman died 6 weeks after filming this commercial. Here is a photo of Mr. Talman is his 1968 anti smoking commercial.

In conclusion this entire ad is very effective. It brings a sense of urgency which can cause people to act on their feelings. Most other cigarette ads just make people feel uncomfortable or shameful for smoking. Anti smoking ads have gone through a lot of changes over the years, but what they are today is very interesting. They don’t need a lot of statistic and they don’t need to be very logical. This is because all the statistics and evidence are implied. They don’t need to state all the diseases that come from smoking all of that is common knowledge these days. It went from convincing people that cigarettes are bad for your health to convincing people that they need to quit smoking. Which has put these ad campaigns it a unique situation. They get to use pathos more than other ads or photo or arguments get too. These ads and this ad is almost all pathos appealing to the emotional side of people’s minds. Most arguments that use too much pathos fall apart and become less credible. But cigarette ads don’t have to follow that guideline they can be as dramatic as they want because the public already knows the dangers.

29 April 2022

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