How Ads Manipulate the Public

Image result for pathos ad

The ad I chose to analyze is one from the car brand BMW. The purpose of the ad is to highlight the dangers of drinking and driving, which is a very good cause. However, it is still an ad, so there are many ways it is designed to make the audience support the brand behind it. This particular image has a very strong focal point, which is the bottom half of a pair of legs and feet, one real and one prosthetic. The focal point is emphasized through the blurred out background and light, neutral background color. Based on the floor tiles, it looks as if the person is standing in a hospital hallway or room, further emphasizing the lasting impact of drinking and driving on someone’s health and how long it can take to recover. Not only would an accident affect the individual, but it would have a devastating impact on their families as well. Since the legs are the focus of the image, the viewer can clearly see what the negative impacts of a possible car crash could be that was caused by drinking and driving.

Most likely, the person in the image was not a drunk driver and was just an innocent person who did not have any idea the accident would happen. The parallel of a real and prosthetic leg is alarming and could be seen as somewhat disturbing, particularly to the vast primary audience, which is people who drive cars. The cold, smooth looking metal and parts of the prosthetic is a stark contrast and seems too perfect compared to the real human leg, with bones and imperfections. It is meant to make the viewer feel a certain way by employing pathos, whether it be sad or scared or a combination of the two. This ad is meant to encourage people not only to not drink and drive, but to encourage everyone to be a safer and more aware driver in general because you never know what a careless act could lead to.

Another aspect of the image is the text that goes along with the legs: “Spare parts for humans are not as original as those for cars. Don’t Drink and Drive.” The font is very simple and the message is straightforward- drinking and driving is not worth getting severely injured or losing body parts. This is a clear use of logos as a rhetorical strategy by creating a sensible, easy message to understand. Choosing the color black for the text creates a contrast when put in front of the light background so it is clear and easy to see. The comparison of a prosthetic and car part highlights how serious losing a limb and having to use a prosthetic can be. The text is to the right of the legs because they want the viewer to see the legs first and then read the text to get the full effect of the message.

The BMW logo is very small and is under the text in the corner to ensure that the focus is on the message they are trying to get across rather than mainly promoting the brand of cars itself. There is text right above the logo that says: Issued in Public Interest by BMW. When writing that it is for public interest, the intention of the ad is made very clear. Since a car brand created this ad, by putting their logo on it they are trying to send the message that if you get this car, you will be making a safer option because safety is clearly the company’s priority. They are trying to get the audience to do a certain action, which is to avoid drinking and driving. The brand appears to be one that is worthy of supporting by buying their cars because they care about all people, appealing to the audience’s emotions.


One thought on “How Ads Manipulate the Public”

  1. this is such a strong image to analyze. there are many people out there who believe that just because something didn’t happen to them it won’t happen at all and drunk driving is one of those things.


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