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Did you know that cigarette smoking is responsible for the death of 480,000 people per year in the United States? Smoking is the number one cause of death and it can be easily prevented (“Smoking and tobacco use”). Anti-smoking advertisements are created to show the harmful effects of smoking; and they are often portrayed through graphic pictures that try to scare the audience and convince them that smoking can be deadly. Many anti-smoking advertisements pop up throughout media sources trying to persuade the audiences that smoking is not the way to live.
One advertisement that really grabs the attention of the audience is a black and white picture of a young teen smoking a cigarette, with smoke from it forming a gun that is pointed at his head. On the side of the advertisement there are words that say, “Kill a cigarette, save a life. Yours.” The Publishers of the advertisement are a national anti-tobacco ad campaign organization called, “Truth”. Truth is a national campaign aimed at eliminating teen smoking in the United States (Truth).
The image that is shown conveys a great sense of danger and promotes awareness of how harmful it is to smoke. The message is portrayed through the design layout, the universal emotional appeal, and the visual image’s impact.
The advertisement’s layout has a big influence on the successful message that is being shown. The picture is in black and white, and most pictures that are in black and white are used to illustrate serious or dramatic situations.
Black and white provides detail and contrast for a darker image overall. The use of the black and white makes it feel like there is no life in the picture, this is probably done to refer to the deaths caused by smoking. This black and white ad causes the audience to reflect on the abstract message rather than focus in on a product in a color ad. This ad in particular, cleverly draws one’s attention to the boy’s face, then to the gun aimed at his head which is implying suicide or imminent death.
The placement of the young man and the smoke provides an example of good design composition. With the words being in the corner, the audience will look at the image first and then read the words second. This provides time for the viewer to take in the symbolic image and read why it is important and think about what they are trying to portray through the image. The gun-shaped smoke cloud is used to provide the negative influence of smoking. The advertisement claims that if you, “kill a cigarette and save a life. Yours” the argument is that cigarettes can kill you and if you give up cigarettes then you are saving your life and even maybe someone else’s.
Pathos is the strongest appeal that reaches out emotionally to the audience and grabs their attention. Having a gun pointed at a young teen’s head, sends a dark appeal to the viewers and shocks them. Choosing to use this image of a teenage boy brings the feeling of guilt to stress the negative effects that smoking cigarettes can cause. Showing young adults and weapons that imply suicide and likely invokes sadness in those who see this image. The audience may look at the ad and feel sad, uncomfortable and perhaps even horrified. This will have a big impact on both smokers and non-smokers because it is trying to convince them that just by lighting one cigarette is the same thing asn pointing a gun at your head. This ad in particular is the sort of advertisement that is essentially “in your face” which gives it the most impact on those who see it.
For instance, those with a smoking habit may be in denial about the harms and dangers associated with smoking. Imagine that a smoker is driving and this billboard is next to the highway. It is relatively easy to believe that this person’s head-in-the-sand attitude about the dangers of smoking is stunted at least for a moment. With smokers, this could be the one thing that convinces them that smoking may not be worth the risk after all. Also the use of black and white photography provides a grim mood. The facial expression also plays a big part in the emotion of the image. His eyes seem to be looking straight at you, daring you to do something like stop him from killing himself with cigarettes. This imagery is extremely effective in conveying the huge risks one takes in choosing to light a cigarette and because the public has been made aware that the ingredients in cigarettes cause addiction.
In addition to the advertisement’s layout and the emotional appeal, the visual images impact makes it clear that smoking isn’t a risk to lose your life over. The smoke that represents a gun pointing to a person illustrates the whole message of cigarettes being harmful and able to kill you. Obviously death from smoking is not the same as death from being shot, but its the message that makes it cling to ones memory and hopefully affects the choices one makes in the future regarding smoking. The ad states “kill a cigarette” before it kills you. A lot of people ignore the warnings and feel they are invincible, but in reality anything can happen to you and even just by smoking it can change your whole life and even possibly kill you.
There are many reasons why people should quit smoking and the risk of death is one of the most influential. The emotional appeal of this ad is that smoking is the same as pointing a gun at one’s head. Our society has seen many anti-smoking advertisements which attempt to show that lighting up a cigarette isn’t just fun and games because of the health risks. Where this advertisement is more effective is because of the smoke shaped gun pointed directly at the smoker’s head. This ad’s message is extremely effective because of its design layout utilizing black and white photography, appealing to the audience’s emotions, and that the visual image’s message is clear .
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