Rhetorical Analysis of PETA Advertisement

The organization known as PETA, which stands for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, has run a large number of advertisements and documentaries over the years. In my Personal opinion, these ads are often extremely graphic and overly depressing to the point where They could risk driving away potential donators or volunteers. For this reason, I found the Paul McCartney ad better than their usual ads for multiple reasons. Here are some of the reasons I believe this ad could be effective while other ads for the organization tend to fail.

I think that the advertisement utilizes Pathos in an appropriate way, and uses a well known and trusted celebrity to get their message across in a way that makes people think.

The ad is a picture of Paul McCartney sitting on a stool in front of a white wall. He is wearing a black shirt and pointing to the words on the shirt, which say that he does not eat beef.

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There is a quote in the top right corner of the picture that says, “Many years ago I was fishing. And as I was reeling in the poor fish I realized, I am killing him, all for the passing pleasure it brings me. And something inside me clicked. I realized as I watched him fight for breath, that his life was as important to him as mine was to me.” At the bottom of the picture, the words “I am Paul McCartney, and I’m a vegetarian” are displayed.

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Finally, on the bottom left of the screen is the logo for PetaIndia.com.

The message the ad is attempting to convey is that these animals should be seen as living creatures with a value for their lives. I think the particular usage of Pathos in this ad is what makes it work. Pathos is defined by The Salem Press Encyclopedia as “an appeal to the emotions of an audience”. Now Personally, I think that when Pathos is overused , it tends to draw an audience away. I think that there are a few reasons for this. When an ad relies too much on provoking an emotional reaction, it can start to seem disingenuous. It can also come across as comical in some cases when the music or atmosphere is overly dramatic. Also, a potential problem with the overuse of Pathos is that the ad can lose credibility if it relies on emotion and takes focus away from logic or research of any kind. Now in the case of this ad, I think that their use of Pathos really does work well.

This is especially because there is no intense or graphic imagery. Also, the ad is not necessarily made to make people feel guilty, but instead made to make people think differently. What I mean is that the quote in the ad is supposed to make you think of yourself in the position of these animals, which in my opinion is a spin on these ads which I have not seen before. Now another element of this ad I want to talk about is actually the utilization of a logical fallacy. The entire ad is comprised of a quote by Paul McCartney, and this could actually be considered An “appeal to authority”. The problem with appeals to authority is that usually the celebrity who is speaking about the product being advertised has nothing to do with it.

For instance, if this were a Coca-Cola advertisement, it could lose credibility if it simply says that you will enjoy the drink because Paul McCartney enjoys it. In the case of this ad, I don’t think this same problem applies. In this case, I think that the celebrity status of the person in the ad works as a way to catch the attention of the audience first. Once the audience is drawn in by an admired figure, they will be more willing to take their stance into consideration. Now I am very open to an opposing argument, but I think that an audience is more trusting of a celebrity endorsing a particular ideology than a certain product. So overall, the idea of a celebrity or influential figure is often unsuccessful in many cases, but for ads like this I think they work very well.

The next point I want to bring up is the use of Ethos. While Pathos appeals to the emotions of the audience, Ethos refers to the ethics of the subject. Now as I’ve said earlier, PETA stands for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, so Ethos is really the driving force behind the organization as a whole. While this ad mainly uses Pathos, I think there is an underlying theme of Ethos as well. In the paragraph above, I discussed the use of a celebrity as a means to push a certain opinion. While I talked about the effectiveness of a trusted figure to sell to an audience, I didn’t talk about whether the person was a credible source. In this case, this is debatable. Now the main thing being promoted in this ad is an idea rather than a product. I think that for This ad, Paul McCartney can be considered credible.

The message of the ad is to take a less harsh approach to the treatment of animals, and Paul McCartney is known for being an advocate for a more peaceful approach to many situations. I think that because of this, he can be considered an authority on more peaceful virtues. This kind of position can only really be given by the collective opinions of mainstream society, but that works out for an ad like this one. So the effect that this ad should have on its audience is that since they are hearing the message from a person who is known for spreading a peaceful ideology, they will be more likely to hear that person out for what he has to say. What I’m saying in all is that Paul McCartney was a great choice to be the subject of the advertisement because Ethos is a large part of who he is, as well as the company he is advertising for.

For this reason, I consider the link to PETA’s website to be a use of Ethos, because that is what the company stands for. I do understand that this ay seem like a bit of a stretch though. Overall, I do consider the use of Ethos to be a very large part of this advertisement. So in conclusion, I think that this particular ad would be considered a success by the standards of this analysis. There is one problem however, and that is the lack of Logos, which means the more logical side of things. It could be argued from the perspective of an audience that some animals do not have the same range of emotions as humans do, and so the ad could lose credibility in that case.

As I’ve said earlier, it could also be argued that there is too great of an emphases on emotions and less attention to logic in general. I’m not sure where the use of Logos would really have a place in this ad. For a majority of people, emotions are what sell more than logic. Also, I don’t think that logic was really a concern when making this particular ad. I will say that I think the balance between Ethos and Pathos works well enough to compensate for the lack of Logos. The ad was designed to change an opinion by looking at a particular issue in a different way, so I would think that this ad would be successful in that. So all together, I think that this PETA advertisement works well for what it’s trying to convey.

Works Cited

  1. PetaIndia.com Paul McCartney advertisement. This ad features Paul McCartney stating why he
  2. Endorses the company.
  3. Salem Press Encyclopedia. This is a dictionary that can be found on the Gator Library,.

Cite this page

Rhetorical Analysis of PETA Advertisement. (2021, Dec 30). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/rhetorical-analysis-of-peta-advertisement-essay

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