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Describe the ad (what you see, what is said, how it is organized and so on) and the ad’s overall effect or tone. Is the ad old-fashioned, somber, disturbing, serene, purposely confusing, busy, funny, sarcastic, ironic, understated, sad, sexy, vague and so on?

Critical Analysis of an Advertisement.
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Assignment: Write a 2-3 page critical analysis of an advertisement. Choose an advertisement that is compelling to you: an ad that enrages, interests you, or motivates you will be easier to analyze. Ads can be from magazines, newspapers, the internet, billboards (you can take a photo) or elsewhere, but make sure you have an image you can include in the paper (though it does not count as a page).

Make sure you are familiar with the product being advertised (or you understand what it is for). Look at the ad from top to bottom, left to right, taking note of anything that seems significant or grabs your attention. What you will do in your paper and questions to consider:

1. Describe the ad (what you see, what is said, how it is organized and so on) and the ad’s overall effect or tone. Is the ad old-fashioned, somber, disturbing, serene, purposely confusing, busy, funny, sarcastic, ironic, understated, sad, sexy, vague and so on? Does it sentimentalize, glorify, criticize, shame, entice? What grabs your attention? How do your eyes move across the page? Are the objects interacting in some way- implied or obvious? Is there implied movement? Foreshadowing? What is excluded? Be detailed.

2. Find the argument. What is the argument? What kind of lifestyle do you think your advertising tries to promote? What kind of values? What are the implied values? The explicit messages? What is the context? Discuss how the audience and the ad’s message are linked. What kinds of knowledge or experience does the ad assume its audience possesses? What associations might the audience make with the images in your ad? How and why are these associations important? How do they connect with the product? How might these associations motivate viewers to purchase the product? Who do you think is the target audience and how do you know?

3. Evaluate the argument. Identify Rhetorical Strategies. What appeals are being used to support the argument? Ethos/Credibility/Moral values? Pathos/Emotions? Logos/ Logic? Consider context.

4. What can you deduce about American culture in general by looking at this ad? How should the target audience or public react to this ad?

Organization: Sample Outline

A. Introduction: What is the ad for? General summary of the context of ad, name the company or product, and your thesis: what you think the ad does and your criticism or praise of its purpose and effectiveness.

B. Body Paragraphs: (Use evidence from the ad to prove your thesis). Describe the ad. Explain the Context & Target Audience. Where was the ad published? Who is the audience? Show the reader how the components of the ad are designed to target the audience. What are the values of the audience? Describe the visual strategies the ad uses to target the audience. (This is where you discuss ethos or pathos or logos.) Describe the textual strategies (if there is text): text’s purpose, tone, etc. and how this targets its audience/their values etc.

C. Conclusion: Recap and discuss cultural implications or ideas

Use MLA format and give source of the ad at the end of the paper, under Work Cited.

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