Article Critique: “Advertising’s Fifteen Basic Appeals” by Jib Fowles

free essayThe current essay presents a critical analysis of an article entitled “Advertising’s Fifteen Basic Appeals” by Jib Fowles who has researched hundreds of contemporary commercials with a view to coming up with a list of basic appeals found in advertisements that are aimed at convincing consumers to buy this or that product or at least to be aware of it instead of subconsciously ignoring and filtering out the watched commercial. Thus, the analyzed article can be regarded as a summary of a year-long research of advertisements and their use of appeals on the basis of relevant theoretical sources and personal observations of the researcher and his students. Although critical analysis of the article may concern numerous aspects all of which are essential, the current essay dwells upon the following: credibility and topicality of the article, sufficiency of exemplification as well as structural segmentation and appropriateness of means employed to communicate the author’s message.

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The article deals with advertising, which has always been and will remain a topical issue taking into consideration contemporary marketing strategies of most businesses and their enormous expenses on advertising, which amount to about $50 billion per annum in the USA (Fowles 89). Thus, the question how to make ads efficient and able to impact the target audience is extremely topical, which makes the article under consideration topical and useful as well. Advertisements replace each other rapidly depending on fashion and tendencies present in the society, yet the underlying techniques and effective appeals remain the same and human beings essentially remain the same and their inherent wishes and needs do not change either. Thus, Jib Fowles has managed to develop a virtually eternal list of appeals that can be supplemented with some new trends, but the already researched appeals would hardly alter with time and advertisers can always turn to the Fowles’ study when creating ads with implicit power to draw consumers’ attention and hold their interest. The latter is not an easy task as “the average American is exposed to some 500 ads daily from television, newspapers, magazines, radio, billboard, direct mail” and the Internet, but a person can be physically aware of only about 75 ads per day, which emphasizes the significance of developing truly memorable and remarkable ads that would not be subconsciously filtered out (Fowles 74). Credibility of the Fowles’ article is achieved through the employment of results of the researcher’s empirical study as well as reference to credible sources like studies by Harvard University Graduate School of Business Administration and Harvard Psychological Clinic, works by Abraham Maslow, Henry A. Murray, David C. McClelland, and a variety of other no less valid sources of theoretical and practical materials.

Exemplification and validity of employed illustrative materials are an integral part of any research that is aimed at studying some real-life phenomenon, especially if such research strives to present results that can be applied in development and implementation of effective advertising strategies and conduct of further researches relating to raised issues. The article under analysis abounds in examples taken from various advertisements. Specialists in the topic would have no problems finding practical proofs of the presented information as narration about each appeal is supplemented with numerous illustrative materials, which prove the author’s underlying idea. However, it sometimes seems that there is too much exemplification as readers with a vague idea about advertising and its use of various emotional appeals may initially be at a loss because of such density of illustrative examples and would have to spend some time reviewing cited commercials in order to refresh their memory and comprehend suggested theory based on the empirical research. On the one hand, it is time-consuming and tiresome to look for all mentioned ads and afterwards to review them. On the other hand, such an approach would ensure better comprehension of the article and its basic concepts as readers would broaden their understanding of the topic of advertising by combining theory with practice. Hence they can justify the author’s use of so many versatile examples originating from different countries and years. Diversity of examples proves applicability of distinguished basic appeals over the years, hence suggesting that advertisements’ appeals to such needs as the ones “for sex, for affiliation, to nurture, for guidance, to aggress, to achieve, to dominate, for prominence, for attention, for autonomy, to escape, to feel safe, for aesthetic sensations, to satisfy curiosity, and physiological needs” may be deemed eternally true and valid (Fowles 76).

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The article is divided into several parts with a view to facilitating comprehension, which are as follows: Emotional Appeals, Murray’s List, Fifteen Appeals with further subdivision into fifteen sections focusing on each of the fifteen basic appeals, Styles, Analyzing Advertisements, and Do They or Don’t They? Such structural segmentation ensures that readers’ attention does not get dispersed and that everyone can focus on the part of the research that interests them the most. Besides, it is easier to navigate the article if it is properly structured. Concerning content of each of these sections, it is worth mentioning that the author does not simply enlist fifteen basic appeals with some examples, but he rather gives quite a detailed account of his study’s results supplemented with a short guide how to analyze advertisements as well as information relating to theoretical groundwork of the research. An interesting thing is that the author concludes his article with his personal opinion about effectiveness of advertising in general with account for circumstances of the contemporary digital world. Therefore, the article successfully communicates the following key messages: “every ad is a variation on one of a limited number of basic appeals,” “an advertising message contains something primary and primitive, an emotional appeal, that in effect is the thin end of the wedge, trying to find its way into a mind,” and “advertising messages involve costs and benefits at both ends of the communication channel” due to which neither consumers nor advertisers may be deemed losers in the process (Fowles 76, 90).

All things considered, Jib Fowles’ article may be deemed a successful example of how results of a research should be summarized and presented to the general public and specialists interested in raised issues. Despite some minor shortcomings that may be distinguished in the process of critical analysis, the article under consideration is a successful piece of writing in the chosen topic with sufficient level of exemplification, credible sources, efficiently communicated messages, and segmentation enabling easy comprehension. Besides, an evident strength of the article is that the author’s conclusion may be considered as open-ended and thought-provoking as he leaves it to readers to decide whether ads do or don’t work in the process of two-way communication between advertisers and consumers.

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