Term Paper: Advertisements for Harley Davidson

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[. . .] Firstly, it can be used to sell a specific product or service. Like the Benetton ads, it can also be used to sell a brand or a company without saying anything about the actual product. This is also seen in the many companies that sponsor events. This sponsorship says nothing about the actual product, but ensures the name of the brand or company remains in the public eye. Part of advertising then, is just to make the company name memorable to the consumer. Advertising is also used not only to sell products but to sell ideas. An example is with Greenpeace who advertise to make people aware of environmental concerns. Advertising can be used as a means of making people aware of issues and of communicating political statements to the public.

Finally, it cannot be ignored that advertising is a commercial industry. For example, magazines, newspapers and television contain advertising, which earns a significant amount of revenue for the television station or publishing company. This revenue is what allows the station or publishing company to pay for the content. Looked at in this way, the content is what creates an audience. The television and publishing company than sells this audience to advertisers by way of the advertising space. Part of the role of advertising then, is to raise the revenue that allows for television stations to provide free content and for newspapers and magazines to deliver news and information for a small price.


1. Which ad is most powerful (or persuasive)? It doesn't matter if you agree with the political message-your task is to analyze effectiveness. Give reasons for your choice.

The ad for reproductive rights is the most powerful and persuasive because it is a clear and easy to understand representation of the issue and it encourages people to take action, which is the purpose of the ad.

Firstly, the ad is to the point and states the issue clearly. As the ad and the text show, these experts are deciding whether or not abortion is allowable. The seriousness and the fact that the group are almost all older males, shows how these experts are not necessarily the best people to make the decision. Referring to them as 'experts' and showing them looking so serious emphasizes that they are looking at the issue in a non-personal way.

The ad is also persuasive because as well as making the issue clear, it urges people to take action. It tells people to 'speak out for reproductive rights' after showing why it is important to.

While, the other ads may also highlight an important social issue, they do not have this focus on urging people to take action. Even if the other ads are effective in highlighting the issues, this does nothing to change anything unless the people are urged to act. In contrast, the abortion ad communicates that people can and should make an effort and encourages them to take action to make a difference.

The other ads are also not as focused on the meaning as the abortion ad. In the abortion ad, the focus remains on who is going to decide on the abortion issue. This is especially effective because the whole abortion debate is based on the concept of whether or not it is an individual's choice. The text, the picture and the concept, all remain on this 'who will decide' theme. In contrast, the other advertisements are not as focused. The ad for affirmative action uses the Klu Klux Klan as the picture. The link between the Klu Klux Klan and affirmative action is not as clear and this reduces the impact of the ad. In the Rainforest Action Network ad, the concept of Chevron as a rapist is used, but again this concept is not as focused as the abortion ad.

In summary, the abortion ad with its focused approach, makes the meaning of the ad clear and easy to understand as well as urges people to take action. This is effective because it communicates the importance of the issue and also communicates that people can do something about it.

2. Which ad do you think would most infuriate an opponent of the political or social message being conveyed? Give reasons for your choice.

The United Front ad for affirmative action would most infuriate an opponent of affirmative action because it refers directly to these opponents and associates them with the Klu Klux Klan.

The Klu Klux Klan in the picture is the basis for the ad, with the Klu Klux Klan associated with those who refuse to respect other's differences. This is a powerful image and anyone being likened to the Klu Klux Klan is a disturbing insult.

The text "if you're against affirmative action, you're not alone" and "there are some who don't support our commitment to affirmative action" linked with the picture, communicates that those who do not agree with affirmative action are similar to members of the Klu Klux Klan. With the Klu Klux Klan a group that society generally recognizes as being cruel and closed-minded this is a very powerful statement of the type of people who do not agree with affirmative action.

The reason the ad is especially likely to infuriate opposers of affirmative action, is that it is directed specifically at them, with these opposers the subject of the ad and with these opposers being insulted. Comparing this to the abortion ad, it can be seen that while the experts who are deciding the issue are subjects of the ad, they are not specifically insulted. Instead the question is only raised of whether these people are the right ones to decide.

The final important point is that the ad for affirmative action says nothing about why affirmative action is a good thing. It directly ridicules and insults those who do not support it, but does nothing to communicate why being for affirmative action is a good thing. It is a case of insulting the competition instead of stating why you are better than the competition. While the other ads do comment on their opposers, they give a valid reason for doing so. The rainforest ad refers to Chevron as a rapist, but it describes how the forest are being damaged as reasoning for this. The United Front ad does not give this reasoning, with no reasons given as to why those who do not support affirmative action should be associated with the Klu Klux Klan. Instead, it creates a link between the two groups, with no evidence given for this link.

It is the insulting nature of this ad, the fact that it is not based on anything concrete and the fact that it is directed specifically at the opposers that would make it especially infuriating to opposers of affirmative action.

3. Select one of the ads and discuss the visual message, the verbal message, and how the two work together.

The Rainforest Action Network ad uses text and visuals to persuade readers not to support Chevron and not to purchase their products.

The top section of text is the major component of the ad and is designed to create interest in reading the ad as well as to create meaning. The text likens Chevron to a rapist, with the words 'Rapists' and 'Chevron' in large type. At a glance, the reader sees there is a link between the two and then reads the text to determine what that link is. It is this seemingly mismatched link that is meant to intrigue the reader, so that they want to find out what Chevron has done that it can be likened to a rapist. The link to the rapist is then provided in the text, with rapists described as operating in secluded places. As the text says "maybe that explains why Chevron is building a pipeline in the rainforest." This text emphasizes that Chevron is trying to build this pipeline secretly as well as suggesting the damage to the forest. The small text below the picture then expands on this with the pipeline described as threatening to destroy the rainforests of Papua New Guinea and with readers urged to think about it next time they fill up. This is a message urging people not to support Chevron by buying their products.

This message is captured entirely in the text. The image of the rainforest being destroyed is not used to offer any greater meaning, but to make the issue more real and more immediate. The picture emphasizes that this is really happening and makes the issue clearer.

4. Pick a political or social issue that you care deeply about. Assume you are creating an ad for your side of the issue and your audience is radio listeners (so you do not need to do any visuals). Write an ad that would present your position and motivate a listener to act.

The ad created is on the topic of poverty and is aimed to… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Advertisements for Harley Davidson.  (2002, September 29).  Retrieved May 23, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/advertisements-harley-davidson-both/7386804

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"Advertisements for Harley Davidson."  Essaytown.com.  September 29, 2002.  Accessed May 23, 2019.