Rhetorical Fallacy Essay
Throughout my life, I have been entertained and persuaded by the world of advertisements. But like Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave”, the images painted by these ads are either tainted do to the sneaky incorporation of fallacies. These fallacies may act in different forms; some of them are almost insidiously trying to persuade you while others, have an odd and blatant approach.
The commercials are for the Axe Apollo deodorant spray, Gamefly video game rental service, and the Mercedes-Benz automobile company; they all contain different fallacies that attempt to persuade you in different ways. These examples will show you how fallacies, though coming with different approaches, have the same purpose – getting you to buy their product.
The Axe Apollo is one of the commercials that portrayed its fallacy, Hasty Generalization, in an obvious manner. (1) In the ad, a fireman runs up a burning building and rescues a damsel in distress in the most epic and valiant of ways. Outside as the fireman puts his fire protective cloak on the woman; they began to have an emotional moment.
The woman then glances over her hero’s soldier to find an approaching astronaut. Love-struck, she shrugs off the fireproof jacket and runs into the arms of the astronaut, leaving the fireman heart broken in all his fruitless perfection. In bold letters, a caption states “Nothing beats an Astronaut – Ever.” The target audiences of this commercial are males: mainly adults and teenagers included.
This can be inferred by how the caption seems to be giving advice to boys trying to smell appealing for the ladies. Also, young children who have not yet hit puberty will find little need of the deodorant. This fallacy was probably not unintentional because of the hastily generalized statement with the purpose of amusement.
It uses emotional appeal or pathos to persuade the audience, giving the clip a humorous essence and causing them to remember and maybe prefer the product the next time the see it at a drug store or supermarket.
The fallacy in this advertisement was both visual and written. Hasty Generalization was the most apparent fallacy mainly because it didn’t prove that an astronaut is the more appealing profession, and you can’t assume that all astronauts will always win the heart of every woman in the world – which is what the caption at the end of the video basically stated.
I think in the most important respects this fallacy was effective, but in other areas it greatly lacked strength. Mainly what the creators of this commercial were trying to achieve was for you to remember their product so you would draw attention to it when you happen to see it at a store. From there, they hope your curiosity will convince you.
But in the task of actually persuading you that an astronaut is more appealing than any other profession, they have failed miserably because their fallacy can be so evidently seen. This advertisement is not ethical because the purpose of this fallacy do not justify the ends: the motive of this fallacy was for selfish gain and falsely trying to persuade its audience for that cause is not right.
The Gamefly commercial is not as obvious as the Axe Apollo commercial probably because it has only one mode to communicate to you with – visual. Like the Axe Apollo commercial, Gamefly uses ethos or appeal to authority. (2) In the advertisement, we have Blake Griffin in formal attire sitting comfortably on a desk.
He comically turns to the audience acting surprised to see them. He then rambles on about his opinions on what is “awesome” and what is not. Griffin remarks that Gamefly is “awesome” and begins to inform the viewers of all its good features.
Although the product which he is trying to promote maybe contain a good deal, Blake Griffin is not an expert in the field of buying and renting video games. Therefore he cannot be trusted to be a reference for the commercial on what is the more appropriate way to obtain your video games.
The audience of this commercial is for anyone who likes to play video games: which would most likely be children and some teenagers. It is clear the fallacy was intentional. This fallacy is effective because most people know who Blake Griffin is and the main purpose of the commercial is to get their great deal across.
So why not use Blake Griffin to attract the attention of your audience and feed them the information that you need to get across in a captivating and comical way. Though this use of a fallacy is expedient, that doesn’t mean it is morally right.
The use of this fallacy is unethical because it is not only for selfish profit, but it in some cases it could come between the buyer and his goals; this distraction may lead to his failure in either a class or job. Gamefly has not stated any plans to donate the money, so we can only assume the purpose of this commercial is to persuade you to buy their product.
For some people, it can take a while of contemplating to find the fallacy in this Mercedes – Benz commercial. The fallacy in this ad is written and visual. (3) The advertisement starts out with Raymond, who has never in his life tasted ice cream.
He tells himself time after time that he will one day taste the dessert, but for some odd reason he never takes the plunge for fear of not being ready. At the end of the commercial, a Mercedes-Benz car is being previewed with a caption that says, “Don’t spend your whole life waiting – Mercedes-Benz, you’re ready.”
The target audience of this commercial is adults. Because children are in most cases not able to afford or drive a car, there is not much reason to try to persuade them. The fallacy in this commercial is the False Analogy fallacy. This is so because comparing the purchase of Ice cream to a luxury car is extremely disproportionate.
Though the two may seem similar, it doesn’t compare the scenarios in the most important respects. A tub of ice-cream can amount to as much as $7, but the price for the average Mercedes-Benz is somewhere around $70,000; the price of the ice-cream is .0001% of the car.
The difference in price range clearly shows the revision needed in this insufficient analogy. This fallacy was most likely not intentional because there is nothing to gain, and if the producers of this commercial had seen this error, they probably would have changed the analogy in fear of losing their credibility.
The commercial attempts to use logos, or a practical approach to persuade you, but the logic of this proposal is tainted by the fallacy. This fallacy is not effective; since the main audience of this commercial is adults, it will take a lot more reasoning and explanation to convince him/her to buy a luxury car just out of fear of making the same mistake Raymond had made.
The False Analogy in this commercial is unethical because the ends do not justify the means. The purpose of the commercial is for selfish gain, regardless if they were aware of the fallacy or not. Compared to the other advertisements, this one probably was the least effective in getting you to purchase their product.
Similarly in Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave”, these fallacies were designed to either distort, justify, or promote a message.
The Hasty Generalization fallacy in the Axe Apollo commercial was the most obvious of the three; Gamefly’s False Authority and Mercedes-Benz’s False Analogy both required you to look a little more closely. These different commercials had different target audiences, and they probably chose their type of fallacy depending on the type of audience they had.
For the most part, most fallacies are similar to these three in the fact that they are ethically immoral because of their selfish means. The different fallacies contained in these commercials attempted to persuade you to buy their product, and some of these fallacies were effective while others weren’t. This goes to show you how fallacies work with different approaches but with the same purpose – getting you to buy their product.
(1) AXE. “AXE Apollo Fireman Ad.” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 9 January 2013. Web. 11 October 2013. (2) BlakeGriffinChannel. “GameFly Commercial – Be Amazing – Featuring Blake Griffin!” Online video clip. YouTube. Youtube, 4 December 2012. Web. 11 October 2013 (3) UniqueGurl01. “Material Fallacies – False Analogy.” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 5 August 2010. Web. 11 October 2013.