Advertising is one of the world’s foremost businesses. Companies use this media to communicate their ideas, products and messages to the general public. This is one type of advert, which is used to draw people to donate to a cause. It is called an appeal.
This appeal is from Help The Aged, a fairly large charity, dedicated to helping the older and less able people. This particular advert is for the SeniorLink pendant, a small telephone pendant that helps people when they get into trouble where they can’t reach the phone, because they are immobilised.
I will analyse this form of the appeal and elaborate the techniques and tricks used to convince people to part with their money.
This form of the appeal is a leaflet. Leaflets can be specially designed to appeal to a particular audience or aspect of society; this leaflet is aimed at anyone who has money. The purpose of it is to convince these people that their product is: reliable; fast acting; state-of-the-art; easy-to-use and most of all, lifesaving. If it succeeds than Help The Aged will get their reward of a donation that, in theory, should then be spent on the pensioners.
The advert uses several conventions to convey their tricks and tactics to the target audience. I will elaborate these as I examine the advert.
On the first part of the leaflet (The ‘Front’) we see Vera alive and well, along with a caption to the picture that, arguably, could be seen as the title to the leaflet.
The photograph of Vera depicts her as smiling, cheerful and in good health. From this, empathy is drawn from the audience, giving the advert a good note from which to begin with. It can also be seen as a pointer to what the outcome of the event is, in a similar way to the introduction to Romeo and Juliet.
The caption or ‘title’ of the leaflet is in large, white, bold, capitalised text, which is mapped on a black background. This is to make the text stand out considerably, as there is no bigger contrast than black and white.
At the end of the text is an ellipsis. This adds to the beckoning feel of the text that makes the audience want to read on.
The second part of the advert or “Middle of the leaflet” is a transcript of the conversation between Lyn, a SeniorLink operator, and Vera Smith, an old woman in distress. The sheet is in four parts:
A quotation, used as a title
An introduction to the transcript
The telephone conversation, recorded as a transcript
And an epilogue to the piece.
The quotation to the page is in a similar style to the original caption, in the first part. It shares the same bold, white on black style, however it is not all in capitals. This is because it is a quotation from Vera, presumably from after her ordeal. This is to show again that she recovered and that she owes her life to the SeniorLink pendant.
Next is an introduction to the transcript. It starts with an introductory sentence that uses simple adjectives and sentence structure to describe the characters. Next comes the setting of the scene, where Vera’s predicament takes shape. One sentence is underlined, this sentence: ‘To her horror…’ is highlighted to make it stand out more, as it is shocking and important. The intro ends with another ellipsis, opening the way for the transcript.
Just before the transcript is a picture of both Lyn and Vera, depicted as happy, this is showing: how good the receiving staff is and how pleased Vera is to be alive.
The transcript itself is 16 lines long, combining playscript style speech and bold typed event explanations. The playscript reads like normal speech, Vera pauses and the text is punctuated appropriately,
“Please… Help me!”
The language is different for Vera and Lyn, Vera sounds helpless and afraid, while Lyn sounds calm and efficient. At three intervals the scripting cuts into a short explanatory line, distinguished by its bold enhancement. These explain what is happening, like directors notes. We are expected to give the appeal some trust and believe that the conversation really happened.
Finally there is an epilogue where, using reassuring text, they bring this ordeal to an end. They finish this section by emphasising that the SeniorLink saves lives.
The final part of the advert, the back, is the possibly the most important. It is the advert in full, the appeal or the explanation section. It is nine paragraphs that encompass all of the emotion, drawn from before and add to it, then channel it into giving a donation.
The title of the piece is large, bold and eye-catching. It is presumably a joke to suggest that she could, ‘hear voices’ as some old people develop insanity. Otherwise the comment that she is alive because she could hear voices is a stupid one and not thought out.
The first paragraph is an assurance that Vera made a full recovery, thanks to the SeniorLink system. This is to put worried minds at rest.
Then in clear bold text it says:
“But many other elderly people aren’t so lucky”,
This shows that next the appeal will give information, possibly facts on old people that didn’t make it through their ordeals.
Paragraph 2 is apparently a factual one, where they give you shocking statistics on how many people don’t survive each week. This is supposed to appeal to your human nature and lull you into wanting to help decrease this statistic.
Next comes another single line of text that prepares you for upcoming information. It is underlined and utilises an emphasising adverb, which is describing an adjective, ‘tragic’. This is used to change it from being tragic to really tragic, emphasis.
The next two paragraphs are two cases, which are utilised to shock you
further, and again to appeal to your ‘Human side’.
The fifth paragraph is in bold text and is designed to be reliving after the heavy emotion carrying paragraphs. It is positive and righteous. It opens with a statement of good,
“Yet tragedy can be avoided”
This is showing the gold horizon, while saying that our cause is the most important cause. Then in the second sentence it uses the mysterious inference again:
In the sixth paragraph the appeal itself surfaces and they make their quick request for money, while surrounding it with ideas of stopping unnecessary deaths and the strange ‘voice’ inference again. The donation request itself is only five words long, out of the whole advert. It is short and enveloped to try to mask their intentions, while making it stand out in your mind. Also in this paragraph two words are underlined to add emphasis on their aims.
The next paragraph is a short direct paragraph and adds a little more emphasis on the pendant itself.
Paragraph eight is the technical element, it explains exactly what the pendant is, wrapped in technical terms to show that this is cutting edge technology and is really effective.
The text ends with a warm climax ands shows one last time that the pendant is an amazing thing.
The logo of Help The Aged is a rising sun, symbolising that there is dawning hope and always a light for old people.
In conclusion, the advert uses most of the persuasive techniques in the handbook, from simple adjectives and bold text to psychological hints and shocking ‘facts’. However I would say that the advert has been worked at: psychologically wise, everything is in the right place, and the things that should stand out do stand out. At every step of the way they have used persuasive writing, showing that:
Vera survived because of the pendant,
The pendant is efficient and will always work,
Pensioners without a pendant die frequently,
Preventing the deaths is easy: donate money.
On a personal level I wasn’t convinced, I saw the IT tricks and psychological hints as insults, and saw right through them. Perhaps I’m wrong, and I just am not human enough to see that they really are doing good in the world.
But, most people would or should give money as it is fairly well thought through and has pretty shocking facts, if they’re true.
I have learned that advertising is a crooked business and has many ways of persuasion. It does take a lot of thought.