Thursday, June 23, 2011

Here's What I Wrote For My Class

The class is Comm. Arts 368: Theory and Practice of Persuasion.  I thought it might be a lot more about politics; so far it's been a lot about advertising.  Today we did see some political stuff and last night's reading used Abraham Lincoln and Rush Limbaugh to make a point about "factoids."

Anyway, the assignment was to write a two page critcal analysis of some print ad or TV commercial.  I used this one:

Here's what I wrote:

Visa: It’s everywhere you want to be.  Who has not heard that slogan?  It has been ubiquitous for more than twenty years.  It works because it is true (Visa is accepted just about everywhere) and it describes something we want (a card that works like gold).  Take it wherever you go and you don’t need money.  This TV commercial adds another element: 
This paper will analyze this commercial, beginning with the concepts upon which its appeal is based (there are two), evaluating the effectiveness and suggesting ways in which the appeal could be increased. 
            The commercial begins with action footage of NBA stars and a voiceover, “They’ve been called the greatest team in Olympic history … “  This is an appeal based upon the “Social identity-promotion” model.   This model plays on people’s desire to feel a part of the “in” crowd.  Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan; these three and the others are ideals of athletic excellence.  If we can have ourselves identified with these “heroes” we will happily do so.  Plus, it is also the Olympics.  They only happen once every four years.  Players on the Olympic team are perceived as the “best of the best.”  The Olympics also play on national pride and feelings of patriotism.  So we see widely admired superstar basketball players traveling across the ocean to demonstrate their excellence in a quadrennial event while wearing the red, white and blue, with a high likelihood that they will “bring the gold” back to America (they’ve been called the greatest team in Olympic history).  I want to be a part!
            So how can I share in this moment of glory and national pride?  Obviously I can’t be on the team.  But I can go as a spectator.  That sounds exciting.  But, I have a problem.  I am not an experienced world traveler.  How much money will I need?  Will I have to convert my dollars to something else?  What?  Can I trust the “money changers”?  What to do?
            Enter appeal number two, based on the “ego defensive” model.  This commercial plays on the promotion angle and the prevention.  If I take the Visa card my problems are solved.  It spends like cash.  I am also warned that American Express will not cut it, “because once again the Olympics don’t take American Express.  Visa: It’s everywhere you want to be.”  I cannot go wrong with Visa, can I?  Count me in!
            Still, the commercial does leave room for improvement.  If they really want to allay all of my fears, telling me that Visa is good “at the ticket window” does not go very far.  What about food?  What about the hotels?  Is Visa really everywhere I want (and need) to be?  Or is that just a slogan?  I need to know this.  Also, at the end, when they show the card, it’s blue.  I would make it gold.  The whole premise of the commercial, the part based on the ego defensive appeal anyway, is that my Visa card is as good as gold.  It spends everywhere!  Just like gold.  The card should be gold.  Why pass up this obvious and easy symbolism?  It is true that the term “gold card” has a specific meaning to a credit card company but why would they assume that I am not a gold card candidate?  Or even already a gold cardholder?  And they could color the card gold regardless of whether or not is an actual gold card.  AND, even if they would rather not do that, the one in the commercial can certainly be gold.
            This commercial plays on the viewer’s desire to be part of the “in crowd” and invokes feelings of national pride.  It makes the viewer want to somehow be a part of an exciting event, the Olympics.  It then plays on the viewer’s fear of being “caught short.”  It does this cleverly, however, not giving him time to begin to counter-argue and talk himself out of going, by offering the solution to the problem at the beginning of the presentation of the problem.  “But if you think they’re tough, wait’ll you see the guys at the ticket window if you don’t have your Visa card.”  As they show the card being slid across.  Problem introduced and solved in the same sentence.  Very effective commercial.


  1. notacynic:

    Too many TV commercials now try to be funny. But other than evoking a laugh, they are often ineffective. A commercial should mean something, and it has to lead the consumers to remember what the commercial is for and drive them to do something – other than just laugh.

  2. Good analysis, although it feels weird to be analying a TV commercial. Reminds me of English class where we analyzed books. Hope you're not gonna make me do any homework today.

  3. Great job analyzing a 30 second commercial. I feel like if I had a Visa I could be as accomplished as Stockton, Jordan and Ewing myself...

  4. Visa: it's everywhere you want to be. Jeez, now I want one.

    I thought this was an especially adept commercial the way it combined two strategies in just 30 seconds.

    Some commercials DO amuse or titillate but not deliver. This one hit home, I think.

    Skinny, this did remind me of English class. Much easier, though.

    Bryan, did you note the two Dream Teamers who were not named? Apparently there were ten, then two more later.