Mastering persuasion is the key to good marketing. There are many types of persuasive techniques in advertising. Finding the right one for your brand is the tricky part.
In today’s post, we’ll assess the three most important types of rhetoric in advertising techniques: ethos, pathos and logos. And we’ll show you some awesome examples along the way.
Get ready to see how top brands persuade their target audiences every day. Prepare to be inspired and capture some great ideas as you read.
Ethos, Pathos and Logos: How to Create Persuasive Ads
Overview: Persuasion in Advertising
What are persuasive advertising techniques? They're how you convince a buyer of your product through visuals.
You can thank Aristotle for inventing persuasive advertising techniques. More than 2,000 years ago, he categorized how rhetoric is used in arguments into three groups: ethos, pathos and logos.
This is also known as the the rhetorical triangle.
And we still depend on it today.
Ethos, pathos and logos are the three categories of persuasive advertising techniques.
Each category invokes a different appeal between speaker and audience.
Ethos calls upon the ethics, or what we'd call the values, of the speaker. Pathos elicits emotions in the audience. Finally, logos puts logic into play by using evidence and facts.
Good persuasive advertising technique is when you balance all three.
But using ethos, pathos and logos in commercials sometimes means featuring one advertising technique prominently.
It’s easier to make a decision when someone you respect signs off on it, right?
This is broadly the function of ethos in commercials.
When an esteemed public figure endorses a product, it validates it to the end consumer.
An ethos advertisement plays off the consumer’s respect for a given spokesperson.
Through that respect, the spokesperson appears convincing, authoritative and trustworthy enough to listen to. Of the types of persuasive techniques in advertising, ethos is best used to unlock trust.
Ethos techniques in advertising
So what does ethos mean?
It’s all about credibility. Famous people enjoy a high status in our society. So they’re the ones selling products to us -- whether or not they have product-specific expertise.
Ethos in advertising: Jennifer Aniston in a campaign for Glaceau Smart Water
For example, a recent Infiniti commercial featured Steph Curry. Even though he’s not known for his taste in vehicles, his stature validates the product.
This is ethos in commercials at work.
Ethos in commercials: Steph Curry in a recent spot for Infiniti.
Ethos rhetoric is also invoked to tie a brand to fundamental rights.
Brands build trust with their audience when they stand with an important cause. Anheuser-Busch illustrated this in their recent “Born the Hard Way” spot.
This ethos advertisement by Anheuser-Busch underscores the value of multiculturalism.
This spot focuses on the origin story of Anheuser-Busch’s founders.
It shows Busch’s turbulent immigration from Germany to St. Louis, and speaks to the importance of immigration and multiculturalism.
This is how ethos rhetoric is used in advertising.
Of the many types of persuasive advertising techniques in advertising, ethos is best for playing up the strength of a brand or spokesperson’s character.
“Plain Folks” definition and use in advertising
Ethos rhetoric often employs imagery of everyday, ordinary people.
Known as the Plain Folks persuasive advertising technique, in this approach a spokesperson or brand appears as an Average Joe to feel common and sensible. In doing so, they appear concerned and cut from the same cloth as you.
This approach is very common in political ads. Consider the “Family Strong” ad from Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Hillary Clinton underscores the “Plain Folks” definition in her campaign videos.
Despite her status and wealth, Clinton draws on imagery of her family and upbringing to make her feel more relatable. In this way, “Plain” folks is propaganda and also a logical fallacy.
But it’s also an effective and persuasive advertising technique.
Of the types of persuasive techniques in advertising, Plain Folks aligns your brand with the values of the everyday consumer.
Stirring a viewers emotions is a powerful thing.
Emotions create responses and, in our increasingly consumer-driven culture, the response is to buy something. Pathos appeals to an audience’s basic emotions like joy, fear, and envy. All are easily triggered in many ways.
So what is pathos?
Well, it's a model enjoying a refreshing Coke. Or a frustrated infomercial character desperate for a better remedy. And "tired" of the "same old blah-blah-blah."
The many different pathos advertisement examples not only evoke your feelings but anticipate your responses too.
If you want to explore pathos in advertising, language is the best place to start.
Because the words we hear and read trigger specific feelings.
Positive words conjure feelings of love, excitement and wonder.
What is pathos? Cutting to the emotional core, really.
Look at how Cheerios achieved this in their “Good Goes Round” campaign.
This Cheerios pathos advertisement injects good vibes with positive words
We see sunshine, smiles and bright colors while we hear the words “good goes around.”
It invites positivity and encourages us to associate Cheerios accordingly.
On the other hand, Pathos advertisements can also employ unpleasant emotions like fear and worry just as effectively.
This somber pathos advertisement says don’t let heart disease happen to you.
This ad by the British Heart Foundation underscores the dangers of heart disease.
Well as it unfolds, you start to realize that the narrator suddenly died at her sister’s wedding.
Her tragic story encourages you to not let it happen to you.
BMW warns against drinking and driving in this pathos advertisement example.
The appeal of pathos in advertising
Sex appeal is of course also hugely successful among the pathos advertising techniques.
Open any Cosmopolitan magazine and you’ll find scantily clad models, muscular men and sexual innuendo everywhere.
Although the common expression “sex sells” has been debated, sexually provocative ads do leave a lasting impression.
Mr. Clean, for example, spiced up their eponymous mascot for comedic effect.
This Mr. Clean pathos advertisement gave their mascot a sexy upgrade.
Their brawny Mr. Clean upgrade wears tight clothes and turns mopping the floor into something more... sensual?
Humor, patriotism and snob appeal are also all common in pathos advertisement examples. The pathos definition even extends to nostalgia and the strategic use of music in ads.
The pathos definition extends to evoking emotions with music ... even *NSYNC
The Bandwagon Advertising Technique
“Bandwagon advertising” is commonly categorized under pathos advertisement examples.
While it may sound unfamiliar, you're probably pretty familiar with it.
It creates that impression that using certain product will put you on the “winning team”.
It adheres to the pathos definition because it plays off your fear... of being left out.
Old Spice used this in their “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” spot.
Bandwagon advertising: to be The Man Your Man Could Smell Like, you buy Old Spice.
In its comical way, it puts pressure on men to smell as good as the Old Spice Guy.
Like the “Plain Folks” technique, Bandwagon advertising is a very popular form of propaganda.
Of the persuasive advertising techniques, “Bandwagon” puts your brand on the right side of popular opinion.
Remember those "Be like Mike" Ads?
Talk about putting the consumer on the "winning team"
Ever told someone to “listen to reason” during an argument? This is what logos does. The best logos advertisement examples are when a speaker appeals to logic.
This Samsung ad puts the Logos persuasive advertising technique to work.
Statistics, surveys, facts, and historical data can make a product seem like a more reasonable decision.
Whether the data is sound or not is another story...
Logos techniques in advertising
Technology advertisements use logos because their goal is to showcase cool new features.
Consider the example of logos in Apple’s advertisement for the iPhone X:
A logos advertisement example: In Apple’s iPhone X spot, the features pop out at you.
In logos rhetoric, you have to the sell best reasons to buy your product.
How does Apple do that?
They have their new innovative features pop out at you. From durable glass to Face ID software. It effectively asks you why you would choose any phone but iPhone.
Logos often use buzzwords to sell the product’s benefits.
What's a great example of this?
Food companies capitalizing on the rising demand for healthy eating choices.
I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter underscore organic and vegan offerings
This I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter ad hinges on the two words “organic” and “vegan" to prove the point that they’re “made with the goodness of plants.”
Of the types of persuasive techniques in advertising, logos will build your brand as the most logical, functional and helpful option.
When browsing the many types of persuasive techniques in advertising, consider what your user needs from you. Then ideate on which technique can best fulfill that need.
As you’ve seen in these ethos, pathos and logos ads, the brand should guide how the persuasive advertising techniques are deployed.
What is the company known for? What does it stand for? Is it ripe for a revamping?Hopefully you’ve found a few striking examples to inspire you. If so, create a free moodboard to capture the look and feel you’re going for. And be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
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