In the modern world, the advertising, both commercial and social, may be considered as a separate kind of art. The 20th century created perfect conditions to the flourishing of advertisement art. The emergence of consumer society, wide expansion of media, and intensive increasing of goods and services production made the advertisers think really creatively and use all possible ways to encourage a customer. When commercials had proved themselves as powerful tools of influence and persuasion, it became understandable that ad format may be used to cover some social or environmental issues. That is how social advertisement emerged. Nowadays, the principal aim of the advertising is not only to introduce a certain product or important social issue to the audience but also to persuade and motivate the public to act in a particular manner. Therefore, advertising combines several types of art and even science the visual one, which is the way of expressing thoughts in written and oral manners with the application of psychology, etc. A good example of such mastery advertising is the campaign by “Crisis Relief Singapore” with the slogan “Liking isn`t helping”. This ad is a great combination of creativity and proficient using of such rhetorical appeals as ethos, pathos and logos.
Advertising campaign “Liking isn`t helping” by “Crisis Relief Singapore” aimed at fostering people to join the voluntary service of this organization. The image chosen for the following analysis has two major elements – a picture and three concise sentences. The background is a powerful black and white photo: in the center, there is a woman holding in her arms a dying child, whose shorts are covered with blood spots. The face of the boy reflects fear, suffering, and inner struggle with death. A woman and a child are surrounded by plenty of hands showing a “like” gesture. A little bit to the left of the picture center there are words: “Liking isn`t helping,” and in the bottom right corner there is a call: “Be a volunteer. Change a life” and the emblem of the organization. Both elements strengthen the meaning of each other and, in general, this ad provides the extremely powerful message and influences a mind of a person. It definitely draws the attention of a viewer and makes him or her think about the misery of the peoples, whose countries are in war or suffer from natural disasters. Each element and symbol used in the advert has a lot of meaning and encompasses more social issues than it might seem at the very first glance. Despite the text is very concise, it says to the viewer a lot.
To influence the mind of people, the advertisement uses a powerful sarcasm: likes are the main attributes of social networks (especially Facebook), and very often people prefer to express their opinions considering significant social issues by just liking some posts or photos and sometimes by providing comments below. All these actions make no impact on the real life of society and do not help to resolve any problems. It seems like the advertisement speaks to the viewer: “Can you imagine a situation in life, when you see a dying person and try to help him or her only by showing “like” sign? Sure not! So do some real actions to change the situation, for example, become a volunteer of our organization and help people who suffer from horrors of wars or catastrophes!” The advertisement provides very strong emotional appeal and a call for action due to the excellent combination of bright and sarcastic image and right words full of deep sense. Hence, such influential words require subsequent analysis to understand how three main rhetorical appeals are implemented in this advert.
There exist three basic rhetorical appeals or persuasive techniques: ethos, pathos, and logos
Ethos is an ethical appeal, which reflects whether an audience perceives a speaker or a source of information as credible and reliable or not (Shea). In fact, ethos is a cornerstone of any speech, article, picture, etc.; if an audience has enough evidence to believe a speaker, the writer or the source it is much more likely to act and think in the way the author needs. In the case of chosen advertisement, an emblem of the organization in bottom right corner serves as an evidence of credibility. “Crisis Relief Singapore” is an agency founded in 1999. It is based on Christian ethics and morality, but the representatives of any other religious beliefs are free to join the company and become volunteers in its projects. The main activity of the organization is carrying out trips for volunteers, who have to provide medical aid to injured people in the countries or regions suffering from military actions or destroyed by natural disasters. During its operation, the foundation has already accomplished a plenty of projects with a significant involvement of volunteers, for example, “Sri Lanka Civil War Relief”, “Myanmar Cyclone Relief”, “Bangladesh Flood Relief,” and others (Crisis Relief Singapore). So the organization has the official status and rich experience in the work with volunteers and eliminating the consequences of warfare and natural catastrophes. Therefore, its original sign in the picture proves that the source is reliable and makes the viewer believe that if he or she wants to become a volunteer they can deal with this company without any worries.
The second rhetorical appeal is pathos; it refers to the emotions, which a speaker, writer, image or slogan wants to raise. Pathos is designed to evoke sympathy or any other powerful and influential emotions of the audience and is the strongest among persuasion techniques (Shea). Pathos aims to affect inner feelings of the listeners, readers or viewers. In this image, the most emotionally appealing phrase is “Liking isn`t helping”. These words make viewers think about their everyday behavior in social networks and their ignorance considering the problems of humanity embodied in the unhappy destinies of particular people. This phrase fosters people to think about some real actions, which they could make to help the downtrodden. Moreover, pathos in this advertisement is powerfully strengthened by the picture of a mother and a dying son. In fact, the image draws the major attention of a viewer. Due to its sarcasm, it reveals the absurd of modern society, where a great part of the population just carelessly lives normal lives without an idea about the misery of another part, whose lives are damaged by civil war or other catastrophes. Generally, the advertisement is very dramatic: the combination of horrifying boy`s face and positive likes around this misery reveals discrepancy and unfaithfulness of the contemporary world. All this touches the deepest strings of human consciousness and hurts the feelings.
The third rhetorical appeal is logos; it is a calling to logic and mind of a person. It appeals to person`s rational and critical thinking and plays the role of considerable and persuasive argument (Shea). Logos makes the audience understand that they can believe the author not only because he or she is reliable but also because he or she has enough knowledge or information to prove the opinion. Usually in speeches or any written pieces, it is expressed in the forms of statistics, historical or scientific facts or citations of experts in a particular area. In this advertisement, there is no clear manifestation of logos as defined above. However, the sentences: “Be a volunteer. Change a life” may be considered as logos. After the ad has affected a person emotionally and made him or her think about how they can personally contribute to the resolving of the issue, advertisement suggests a logical and reasonable answer and proposes a person to join the organization as a volunteer. Indeed, the creators of the ad took into account psychological feature of human nature and created an image and a text which really motivate people to action. They introduced the problem in an extremely impressive manner but, at the same time, incorporated its solution. After the emotional reaction, a person can come up to the logical and constructive decision.
The analysis above shows how three simple and concise sentences can transmit important messages and motivate people to act. Despite the textual element of the ad is quite small both in length and in size (comparing to the image), it contains three principal rhetoric appeals: ethos, pathos, and logos. This advert reveals true proficiency of its creators because they managed to find only a few very simple but, at the same time, very accurate and right words to communicate their call to the public. These few words evoke enormous boost of thoughts and feelings in the consciousness of a viewer. Moreover, the placement of the sentences on the picture also matters. Firstly, a person gets emotionally affected by the horrifying photo, full of pain, sarcasm, and absurd. Then a sentence “Liking isn`t helping”, which is placed almost in the center to draw the major attention of the audience, cause the explosion of chaotic thoughts and feelings in mind. And only after that the focus shifts to the bottom right corner, where the creators suggest a particular answer or even a solution to the moral problem, which has risen in the mind of a viewer.
In the end, it is important to note that this picture designed by “Crisis Relief Singapore” is an excellent example of how social advertisement can influence people and make them rethink their behavior using rhetorical appeals strengthened by impressive photo.