Monday, July 25, 2011

Influences and Fallacies of Advertisements (RFD2)

Alexander Lau
22 July 2011

Influences and Fallacies of Advertisements

People are bombarded with advertisements throughout their daily lives. Advertisements can be seen on the television, radio, Internet, magazines, newspapers, billboards, and many other places. Unless a person has been living under a rock, they will see at least one advertisement throughout the day. Advertisements can be very invasive by implanting suggestions in our mind to buy unneeded products. [Thesis] By preying on our subconscious, advertisements negatively affect our lives. [Thesis]

On Tuesday, I came across a commercial on YouTube for Old Spice body wash. The advertisement targets mainly women even though the product is intended for men. The ad starts out with a shirtless muscular handsome black man standing in front of a shower. In his hand is a bottle of Old Spice body wash. He asks the audience, “Look at your man, now back to me, now back to your man, now back to me.” Then the man tells the audience that if they use Old Spice their man could smell like him. The scene quickly changes where the man is now on a boat. He walks along the boat suggesting to the women watching that they could be on a boat with a man that smells like him. The man stops and lifts his left hand to reveal a clamshell. The clamshell opens up displaying two tickets. The clamshell falls off and a pile of diamonds starts forming. Then out of the pile of diamonds raises a bottle of Old Spice body wash. The man tells the audience, "Anything is possible when your man smells like Old Spice and not a lady." The camera zooms out revealing the man sitting on a horse with the Old Spice bottle in hand.

The Old Spice commercial incorporates more than one logical fallacy. The first being non sequitur. The commercial suggests to the audience that a “real man” means having good looks and being muscular. A “real man” can be handsome and muscular, but they do not go hand in hand. The commercial has a negative impact on women by suggesting their man is inadequate. Men are also negatively impacted by the commercial. The actor in the commercial displays a standard for what a man should be, which makes lesser men feel inadequate. The second fallacy is begging to question. Does using Old Spice really make men smell like “real men”? The third fallacy is bandwagon appeal. The commercial is telling the audience that “real men” are handsome, strong, and confident. The problem here is the definition of a “real man” is dependent on an individual’s perception.

Another advertisement I came across on YouTube on Tuesday is one for Volkswagen, a car manufacturer. The commercial starts off with background music from the iconic movie Star Wars. The camera starts panning upwards, revealing a child dressed as Darth Vader from Star Wars walking down a hallway. The scene cuts to a room where the child is standing with arms partially up in front of a bicycling machine. He seems to be trying to use the Force to make the bicycling machine move, but fails. The scene then changes to another room where the child is in front of a dog laying on the floor. This time the child is trying to use the Force on the dog, but again he fails. A close-up shot of the dog’s face shows his lack of excitement. The scene changes to a laundry room where the child is trying to use the Force on the washing machine. The child is now in his sister’s room trying to use the Force on the doll sitting on top the bed. The child looks depressed because he failed to use the Force. The scene changes to the kitchen where he is with his mother at the kitchen counter. Next to the mother is a sandwich. The child tries to use the Force to move the sandwich towards him. The mother instead moves the sandwich to him. The child is saddened by the results and drops his head in disappointment. A car is shown turning into and up the house’s driveway.  The scene cuts to a saddened Darth Vader until he is interrupted by the dogs barking. The father is shown coming out of the car. The child starts running towards the car. The father thinks he’s being greeted by his son, but is ignored. The child is then shown trying to use the Force on the car in from of him. The car suddenly starts up. The child is surprised and jumps backwards. A remote is reveal showing one of its buttons being pressed. The camera zooms out revealing the child’s mother and father standing near a window watching their son. The scene cuts back to the child who looks confused. He looks around trying to see if anyone is around. A black screen appears with white text appearing telling the audience that the all-new 2012 Volkswagen Passat is coming soon for around $20,000.

The Volkswagen commercial is an ad populum fallacy. It preys on the audience’s emotions. The commercial conveys a mishmash of feelings without telling the audience anything about the car. The lack of details about the car also brings up the begging the question fallacy. What makes the car all-new? The background music being from Star Wars is well known. The music and Darth Vader are considered evil for those that know Star Wars, but the child dressed as Darth Vader cancels out the evil aura because children are seen as cute and not evil, which makes the advertisement fun and enjoyable. The Star Wars theme now becomes one of nostalgia. Also in the end, the commercial states that the car is all new, but no mention throughout the commercial why it is all new. The whole commercial is there to entertain the audience, hoping that the audience remembers the commercial by appealing to their emotions. This is negative because it manipulates our emotions into referencing to their products.

Alexandra Aoki stated, “Advertisements main purpose is to promote and lure people into wanting and/or agreeing with what they are putting forth to the public.” Also, Kalea Perry stated, “They can lead people into believing that they need something that they really would not even want or desire in a normal situation.” I fully agree with both statements. Both the Old Spice and Volkswagen commercials are promoting their products by manipulating viewer’s thoughts. Advertisements are everywhere influencing the way people live. This is why advertisements are a negative influence in our lives. 

By preying on our insecurities, ads try to makes us feel the need to buy products to make us better than who we feel we are. In the Old Spice commercial, women are being told their man is not manly enough. Men are being told they are not “real men” because they are not the man in the commercial. Ads also prey on our emotions. The Volkswagen commercial is an enjoyable and memorable commercial, which leave a lasting impression of the Volkswagen brand. People watching or looking at ads need to understand what is going on to not be influenced by what they see.


Aoki, Alexandra. “Ad-Pro Forum.” Online posting. 20 July 2011. Laulima Discussion. 20 July 2011 [].

Perry, Kalea. “Ad-Pro Forum.” Online posting. 20 July 2011. Laulima Discussion. 20 July 2011 [].

Log of Completed Activities
__X__ July 14- Intro to Paper #2. Read the Guidelines for Paper #2.
__X__ July 15- Complete readings for paper #2.
__X__ July 18- Laulima Discussion: Ad Pros and Cons
__X__ July 19- Laulima Discussion: Logical Fallacies Exercise
__X__ July 20- Submit RD2 [50 pts]. Review the guidelines.
__X__ July 21- Submit three RD2 evaluations [50 pts]. Review the guidelines.
__X__ July 22-25 – Submit FD2 [125 pts]. Review the guidelines.

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