Yesterday, during a lesson on persuasive rhetorical techniques, I showed my students a number of commercials, asking them whether the technique used was Logos, Ethos, or Pathos. Along with this, I asked them what the ad was trying to sell, what it claimed about the product, if there was any bias present, etc. A friend pointed me to the Dove Evolution commercial as an example of using Logos, or logic, to persuade an audience. The commercial can be seen below, and you’ll need to watch it before you read on:
As soon as I saw this, I was totally ready to show it to my classes. Not only is it a great example of Logos, but it has a great message, too. A double-whammy! I was expecting all sorts of teachable moments today when they saw the photo-shopping of the image and were as astounded as I was that this can be done, and is done all the time. I expected to launch into an interesting conversation about the persuasive nature of magazine images in general, and how they persuade young people to be unhealthy to get closer to that unattainable ideal.
While there was quite a bit of that going on yesterday, and the students’ outrage at being “tricked” by the media was heartwarming, the initial response I received to the question about what product was being sold was interesting.
To me, this commercial is clearly “selling” Dove’s self esteem workshops, which I think are brilliant and necessary (although, I must admit, I haven’t done much research into them). When I asked my students what this commercial was selling, they instantly said: “Dove soap.”
Is this because the commercial is unclear? Did they tune out before the end of it? Did I see it because this issue is constantly at the front of my mind, but maybe it isn’t at the front of theirs? Or is this their mature and acute cynicism of the advertising industry showing through? Did they think outside of the box to note that this commercial and the self-esteem workshops actually do promote Dove products (if they do these good things, their product must be worthy of buying)?
I don’t know, but I do know that it made me look at Dove – and any other corporation-sponsored initiative – a little differently.
How do you feel about the Dove self esteem initiative? Leave thoughts in the comments.