Week 7: Propaganda in Advertising – Blog 6

By Nick Verbin

This week’s blog post is about propaganda techniques used in advertising. A company or marketing firm might use these tactics to their advantage because it is proven to be strongly persuasive to the average viewer, even if the content of the advertisement may be vague or inaccurate. For my advertisement analysis, I chose a Smartwater ad. The text reads “Pure Zen. We can’t promise inner peace, but inner purity? Yeah, every bottle comes with that”, and the image features a photograph of Jennifer Aniston, a well-known actress who was made famous for her role in television sitcom “Friends” and her acting in many movies in the twenty-first century.

The propaganda techniques being used in this advertisement are “Appeal to authority” and “Glittering generalities”. For example, the advertisement is for a bottle of water, yet it features a famous actress and celebrity on the artwork. Is Jennifer Aniston a spokesperson or expert on water? While she certainly drinks water, I doubt she is an expert on the subject, and her appearance is simply a ploy for people to think “Hey, Jennifer Aniston drinks Smartwater? Maybe I should, too!”

The language used in the ad represents the “glittering generalities” fallacy. Using key words like “Zen”, “peace”, and “purity” are all words that trigger positive emotions, but do not actually describe the taste of Smartwater. Rather, it evokes positive feelings of tranquility that may cause a viewer to crave Smartwater.

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