Assignment: Advertising Fallacies

With all the options available to us, why is the one we want blocked off?

We have talked about numerous fallacies in multiple contexts. We have seen how fallacies can have nefarious effects on the way we process other people’s arguments. If the conversations from this class stick with you, chances are you’re being a bit more critical or suspicious of arguments you see and hear all around you.

Keeping Fallacies Real

This week, we’ve brought rhetoric home—literally into the living room. We discussed how advertising campaigns use fallacies to shape public perception, reaction, and ultimately spending. We all seem to agree that traditional advertising blatantly uses rhetoric. As a result of this awareness, you might be more on the lookout for rhetoric in use around you.

But in Thursday’s class, everyone identified someone in popular culture who influences your decisions to do, try, or buy something. This kind of influence sounds like advertising, but we didn’t use that word to label the effect that reputations, social media, and people with social caché have on us. Are these cultural influencers guilty of the same intentional use of logical fallacies as television ads? How can we tell, and how can we train ourselves to be more alert to their effects?

Making Connections

Your homework earlier in the week was to find a TV ad that you can play in class and identify a fallacy in it. For this post, let’s add an extra layer. Based on Thursday’s conversation, figure out how power, culture, or artifacts relate to the ad you selected. To make those connections, watch the ad as a rhetorician, not just a consumer. Watch not only what the ad tries to sell you but also how the ad controls you (or some other group) based on the norms of a dominant group.

Once your analysis is complete, post it to our blog, File your post in the “Ad Analysis” category, using whatever tags you deem appropriate. Then, copy the URL to your post and paste it in the comment for the assignment in Courses. Because Courses wants you to upload a file, I propose uploading whatever you use as the featured image for your post—but really, anything works.

Bonus challenge: Embed the ad video inside your post. If you can’t get that to work, a simple link suffices.

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