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Advertising’s 15 Basic Appeals Essay

Fowles has written other books on the effects of media on society such as “Advertising and Popular Culture” published in 1996. He is also a researcher, publisher, and professor in media. “Advertising’s” has also appeared in “Mass Advertising as Social Forecast” by Jib Fowles. From the title, you can expect that this essay will explore the reasoning behind advertisements and why people like them. It is an appropriate title because Fowles breaks down each “appeal” he lists and explains why it is used to draw in audiences.

This essay’s focus is about the techniques that advertisers use to appeal to audiences. Fowles got his ideas about the appeals from studying advertisements and using interviews by Henry A. Murray, a Harvard professor. Fowles separates the appeals into 15 parts and gives details on how each is used and how often. His purpose it to inform advertising, marketing and media students, and also other educators on how to us ads to appeal to the public. Also, he wanted to inform the general public on how they are being influenced. The target audience is mainly students who are studying media.

Fowles does a good and effective job of getting his point across. His goal is to educate students and he does that well. His information is organized well, which makes the essay easy to understand. He uses a lot of details and examples to back up his points. Finally, Fowles ends his analysis by explaining to the reader how to look at ads for the things he wrote about. “Advertising’s Fifteen Basic Appeals” is a good resource for any student interested in learning more about the media.

When looking at “Advertising’s” by Jib Fowles, the reader can easily see what each of his appeals is. He gives each appeal in a number list and describes each appeal in that list. This way of presenting information makes it very easy for the reader. Someone can simply pick and choose what parts of advertising appeals he or she would like to explore and find it right away. The good organization is a positive aspect of the writing as well as how thorough Fowles is.

“Advertising’s” can be seen as a good resource because it is very detailed. With each appeal there is a description with examples or background provided. One appeal is the need for autonomy. If the reader does not know what this appeal is just by looking at the title, he or she will soon know by reading Fowle’s description. Fowles gives examples of companies that use this need for autonomy. One slogan he quotes is from Visa, “you can have it the way you want it,” they say. Fowles explains why Visa would use this as an effective marketing tool.

“The focus here is upon the independence and integrity of the individual; this need is the antithesis for guidance…” (Fowles 562). Now the reader, who may not even know what autonomy is, has an understanding of the appeal and an example to clarify. After the explanation of the appeal comes the lesson on how to analyze advertisements.

This part is important because if people know all of these things about ads but don’t know how to apply them to what they see everyday, then “Advertising’s” has missed the point.  “When analyzing ads yourself for their emotional appeals, it takes a bit of practice to learn to ignore the product information… sort out from all the non-product aspects of an ad the chief element which is the most striking,” (Fowles 566).

The viewer must not only learn to sort the information, but also he says to look at the angle the ad is viewed in and the audience it is targeted to. Again, good examples are provided to explain this. He writes about the Green Giant who is looking down on you and appealing to your need for guidance, and about the difference between the message of the same ad if it’s in “Penthouse (need for sex)…and Cosmopolitan (need for attention),”(Fowles 566).

There are some who may think that despite Fowles organization, detailed explanation, and analysis, that the essay is too old to be useful to a modern audience. When describing the need for sex, appeal number one, Fowles uses some example that could be seen as dated. First he says that sex is only used in two percent of ads because it can be too much for the viewer.

Sex is definitely something seen a lot more in today’s ads. He then provides examples using companies and products that aren’t around anymore. The description of the “lithe blouse-less female astride a similarly clad male” (Fowles 555), in the Jordache jeans commercial could paint a picture for some in their forties. Today’s students might not get anything from that visual. Even though the examples are dated, the information remains true. You may find more sex in different ads these days but advertisers are still marketing to that need and doing it in the same ways.

Jib Fowles was an educator with a strong background and understanding of the media. For this reason his goal with this essay was mainly to appeal to students. He does that well by staying organized and giving a lot of details. He puts his theory into use by informing the reader on who to analyze ads. Though some of Fowles examples are old and people may think they are outdated, his ideas are still good for today’s audience. All of this makes “Advertising’s Fifteen Basic Appeals” a good place for students to turn to when wanting to learn more about advertisements.

Work Cited
Fowles, Jib. “Advertising’s Fifteen Basic Appeals”. Writing and Reading Across the Curriculum Ed. Lavrence Behrens and Lenard J. Rosen. Boston: Pearson, 2013 551-68. Print.


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