Advertisers portray their products in the most favorable way possible. In some cases,
they may stretch the boundaries to make a more persuasive claim. Read the information
below, paraphrase it, and give an example of each technique.
Technique Paraphrase Example
Weasel Words: Advertisers
sometimes use words or phrases that
seem significant, but on closer inspection
are actually meaningless. For example,
what does it really mean when a
toothpaste ad claims to “help the
prevention of cavities”? It does not claim
to prevent, only to help prevent cavities.
Anything that does not hurt can be said
to help. Other weasel words or phrases
are virtually, looks like, fights, and best.
You have to look closely to determine
whether the word or the claim has merit.
The Unfinished Claim:
Normally, when you make a comparison,
you state the two things that are being
compared (for example, “I am taller than
you”). Advertisers may intentionally not
finish the comparison: “This battery has
more power to get the job done right.”
More power than what?
The Unique Claim: Many
products on the market are nearly
identical, so advertisers try to make their
product stand out. Legally they cannot
make false claims, so they focus on a
single element that is found only in their
product, hoping that consumers will think
this means that the product is better. For
example: “You’ll find that only our cars
have the Deluxe Air-flow system.” Or,
“Hypoglicia can only be
found in our product.” Do these features
make the products better?
The Rhetorical Claim:
Advertisers ask rhetorical questions or
make statements so that consumers
associate certain ideas and emotions
with their product. For example:
“Shouldn’t you buy the best?” “What do
you want out of life?” Advertisers try to
convince consumers to buy based on
their emotional response to the
questions; they have made no real
claims that their products will deliver on
ELEMENTS OF ADVERTISEMENTS
The following text defines five common elements of print advertisements. The first three directly
relate to ads, while the last two are associated with the company itself and usually appear in
multiple ads. As you read through the text below, identify examples of each element.
Elements of Print Advertisements Example
Headline: A short piece of text, usually in larger type,
designed to be the first words the audience reads. The
headline is usually not the slogan (see below) but is
unique to one particular product.
Image: Any drawing, photograph, illustration, chart, or
other graphic that is designed to affect the audience in
some purposeful way. For example, an image of an SUV
perched high up on a rugged mountain cliff may appeal
to one’s sense of adventure.
Copy: The actual text of the ad. The copy is where
particular claims are usually made and specific
persuasive words are used. For example: “Four out of
five dentists . . . .” The amount of copy varies from ad
Slogan: A catchphrase that evokes some kind of feeling
about the company and the product. Companies look for
slogans that are motivating and empowering. A
company’s slogan rarely changes, especially during a
particular ad campaign.
Logo: A unique design symbol that helps identify the
company visually. Nike’s swoosh, McDonald’s golden
arches, and Apple’s partially bitten apple are examples
of widely recognized company logos. Not all companies
have logos like these; sometimes the company’s name is
written in a distinctive style or font that acts as a logo.
Mission Statement: Will Discuss later