Crest Helps You Make the Most Out of Life

Photo of a Crest toothpaste box

Rhetorical Canons

Invention: The main argument posed by Crest is that their support and association with dental hygienists is reason for trusting the quality of Crest toothpaste. Thus, it is a reason to buy the toothpaste. While I don’t know the details of the making of this ad, the thought process was most likely that association with hygienists would make the company look credible. 

Arrangement: The emotional aspect of the argument is presented first so that the audience is drawn in to the ad through the story of a dental hygienist. Then the claim that Crest supports hygienists is presented. The audience sees how empathetic the dental hygienist is, making her a likable character in this ad. The idea that Crest also likes this person makes it feel like Crest is on our side, we agree on something. Without the story first, the ad would rely solely on the audience’s preconceived notions and biases of dental hygienists; this could include hating going to the dentist because of painful cavities and invasive work inside one’s mouth. Both the heartwarming story about the dental hygienist and the preconceived ethos related to dental hygienists work to convince potential customers that Crest is credible because they support dental hygienists. 

Style: Crest’s ad style is a mix of purely sentimental, pull-at-your-heartstrings content and more technical or “logical” content. (Although, even this content has logical fallacies and emotional appeals: “everyone wants a white smile”). This style and those emotional tactics are clearly visible in this ad. The music, the smiling people (especially the children), the promise to “make the most out of life,” and writing the dental hygienist has empathetic, caring about the patients themselves is all part of this appeal. As previously stated, using an emotionally appealing story about a dental hygienist is a convincing tactic. Additionally, the video is short so it keeps the attention of the audience for the ad’s duration. 

Memory: This canon can apply to the actors in the ad. There were cues and (possibly) lines to be memorized. Even if the voice over was read off of a script, the script had to be well-known enough that the delivery was done correctly with regards to tone, pauses, and delivery without mistakes. 

Delivery: The voice actress had specific inflections, pauses, and words that were emphasized that were all deliberate. Lighting on the ad’s set, the music, camera angles, and actor’s physical movements all played a part in delivery as well. Each aspect set the emotional tone that encompassed the ad. 

Logical Fallacies

Appeal to Emotion: This one’s obvious. The dental hygienist is both shown and described as caring for her patients. The voice-over explains that she helps give a child the smile that she’s always wanted, that she gives the best oral care, and helps her patients “make the most out of life.” The viewer connects emotionally to the character in the ad as she is caring and, Crest hopes, that by association customers will feel good about buying Crest toothpaste. The music also conveys the heartwarming tone as well as the lighting, camera angles, and actors’ expressions (most smiling). 

Appeal to Authority: While the ad hasn’t stated that Crest toothpaste is “dental hygienist approved,” or “recommended,” and thus good quality, it does use an association with authority. The assumption someone may draw from the ad is that, because Crest supports hygienists, it is therefore a quality brand. Essentially, Crest supports hygienists and hygienists support healthy, clean teeth, therefore Crest wouldn’t promote a product that doesn’t keep teeth healthy and clean.

One thought on “Crest Helps You Make the Most Out of Life

  1. Crest and American Culture

    This Crest ad appeals to the “typical American” consumer. In other words, it uses the norms of American culture in several ways in order to sell Crest toothpaste.

    The ad presents a dentist as someone with whom the consumer identifies and empathizes as well as someone to look up to. The ad represents the dental hygienist as someone who cares about her patients. As most viewers could be considered “the patient” and not “the dentist,” (although the two are not always mutually exclusive), the viewer feels comforted and cared for. Healthcare physicians (including dentists) are highly regarded in American culture. This is demonstrated through the amount that doctors and dentists are paid as well as the expectation that one visit the dentist every six months. (This isn’t to say that visiting the dentist isn’t important. But it is a representation of privilege as healthcare definitely isn’t free, despite the importance of seeing healthcare physicians.) Thus, if one SHOULD see a dentist but it is often difficult to see a dentist without good health insurance, being “cared for” by a fictional dentist is likely to mean something to a consumer.

    The ad also has various other representations of American culture. The girl with braces attending a school dance appeals to the viewer’s own personal experiences as school dances are supposed to be a milestone in the life of an American pre-teen or teenager. Crest is also careful to include a black family (among two white families, plus the dentist). Because they only include one black family, this attempt at diversity appears staged in order to avoid criticism (not that every diverse cast in media is done only to avoid criticism, but in this case it likely is). An increasingly large part of pop-culture has become recognizing the lack of representation of minority groups in media. This is a good thing, but the kind of “representation” found in this video caters mainly to white people due to there only being one non-white family. In other words, the ad caters to the dominant cultural group.

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