Imagine a friend or family member, someone you have cared for and trusted all your life, came up to you and offered you a cigarette? What would you do? Say yes or no, or feel your heart sinking to the pit of your stomach because you are well aware of what this harmful habit can do and do not want them to suffer those consequences? I have had the misfortune of experiencing this heartbreaking tribulation myself, where you want nothing more than to help a close loved one from this unhealthy habit. Buying or borrowing a cigarette is too easy, and tobacco companies are making big bucks off producing these addictive products that are slowly killing thousands of people per year. $9.5 billion dollars were spent on advertising and promotion of cigarettes in 2016, and cigarette smoking causes more than 480,000 deaths in the United States per year (Smoking & Tobacco Use). The sad thing is, in today’s culture smoking is not only a habitual routine, but a social activity in which people will smoke if they see others doing it. This is often the reason on how they become addicted as well.

Smoking has become such a widespread issue that countries like the United States, the United Kingdom, and even Australia have produced many commercials and posters that demonstrate and explain how harmful this problem is. In 2013 a national anti-tobacco campaign that attempts to drive a wedge between tobacco companies and the youth called Truth aired a commercial titled “1200” that demonstrated how many people these big tobacco companies are killing per day. Curiosity, shock, and guilt are emotions we all feel, and this commercial relies on pathos to provoke these feelings to grasp their viewer’s attention on this issue. The commercial begins by immediately showing two people in white shirts, and while the first person is writing 222/1200 on the second, it’s easy to see many other people in the background who are most likely the other 1198. As the video progresses, the crowd of people begin to walk toward the camera, showing a significant amount of people with shirts similar to the first two people with different numbers counting up to 1200. The eerie background music increases in intensity that may cause the feeling of trepidation to surface. Already, this commercial has gained the attention of its viewers by using natural human curiosity to know and understand what is going on. An article that explained an experiment about a project using billboards for outdoor advertising used a quote by a British-Canadian psychologist by the name of Daniel Berlyne to explain why exploiting curiosity in advertisement can be an influential tactic. “In the literature, some outstanding work pertaining to curiosity has been completed by Berlyne. He defines curiosity as “the condition of discomfort, due to an inadequacy of information, that motivates specific exploration,”” (Hewett). Campaigns as well as various other advertisements such as commercials, magazines, and even the banners we see on the backs of buses may heavily rely on using pathos to evoke a person’s emotions, which may give the advertisements influence over their viewers.

1200 Picture 2

The commercial progresses, and the large number of people stop in front of a major tobacco company, and after everyone surrounds the building, the crowd of people begin to suddenly drop to the ground. When the camera provides views of the various faces of the people on the ground as well as an aerial perspective, it reveals one man standing amidst the “dead” bodies holding a sign that says “Tobacco kills 1200 people a day,” and “Ever think about taking a day off?” With only two sentences, one a shocking fact, and the other an intriguing question, it displays the use of logos and pathos together. By not only showing the simple fact of the vast amount of lives being taken from tobacco products every day, the commercial had also demonstrated these numbers with the use of real people. The commercial uses logos as a way to showcase how detrimental tobacco products are. This also appeals, again, to a more emotional level with the use of pathos. When viewers see how many people are dying from these tobacco companies, it will hopefully motivate them to quit smoking and do something about this ongoing problem. “Ever think about taking a day off?” This question was obviously directed towards the tobacco company, but it may very well get some of us to think too. It is a rhetorical question the authors may have employed to make a point and persuade or subtly influence their audience.

1200 Picture 1

In the commercial it is apparent that there is no designated speaker, in fact there is no speaking at all except for the sign that one man holds up, but there is no ethos in any individual, but rather in the commercial itself. Truth is a well-known anti-tobacco campaign who is trying to do good by showing how harmful tobacco is, and is attempting to mostly target teens to either stop or never try smoking or vaping. “Specifically, smoking behavior has been associated with the psycho-social effect of wishing to belong to a peer social group” (Koskinen pp. 399). The authors know who to target as their audience because teens usually start these body destructive habits when they see their friends and peers doing the very same thing. Truth also employs the use of slang, hashtags, and intriguing artwork to appeal to a younger generation, like us, to gain their attention with the way they might talk on social media. We may have heard of these Truth commercials, or even seen one for ourselves, so we hold respect for the values they care about and, therefore, respect the campaign and its commercial, trusting its credibility.

There is a vast variety of different advertisements whose authors use pathos, ethos, and/or logos to create an effective marketing campaign to sell their products, or write commercials for protesting campaigns that get their viewer’s to act on specific issues. Tobacco companies love to target younger generations like us to promote their products because we are typically the most gullible, but campaigns like Truth produce commercials that attempt to make us feel and see things to try and dissuade us from destroying ourselves with these harmful products. They connect with us and make us feel strongly about a certain issue with the use of ethos and pathos to hopefully make us the generation that ends smoking. The commercial also uses logos to provide facts that may shock us to quit smoking, or prevent the use of tobacco, or maybe even both. Advertisements like these have authors that know who they are targeting and use various methods that may spur us into doing something about this issue.


Annotated Bibliography

1. Hewett, Wendell C. “The Significance of Human Curiosity in an Outdoor Advertising Experiment.” Journal of Business, vol. 48, no. 1, Jan. 1975, pp. 108–110.

This article describes a study on the significance of human curiosity in a real outdoor advertising campaign in a standard metropolitan statistical area in the southern United States. It explains how the study was executed, what it entailed, how people responded to it, and what the results were. Provides the reader(s) a definition on why human curiosity can be an important part of influential campaigns and advertisements. This is a reliable source from a reliable journal of business.

2. Koskinen, Charles J. Handbook of Smoking and Health. Nova Science Publishers, Inc, 2011.

This book explains current research and effects in the study of smoking habits. It also explains the use of tobacco and second-hand smoke in adolescents. This source helps explain why the commercial finds this a problem that needs to be addressed and why the authors of this advertisement may feel strongly about this issue. This is a reliable source from a scientific publishing company.

(Video Citation) 3. Nova, Susana. “The Truth – 1200.” Produced by The Truth. YouTube, 1 Jun. 2013.

This video shows a gathering of anti-tobacco protesters in front of a major tobacco company. The protesters demonstrate and provide statistics on how many people are killed by tobacco use every day. This commercial uses pathos and logos to gain their viewer’s attention and appeal to their emotions. This is a video produced by a national anti-tobacco campaign that focuses on getting teenagers and adults to stop smoking and to shut down big tobacco companies.

4. “Smoking & Tobacco Use.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 20 Feb. 2018.

This article shows statistics of how many people tobacco products harm and kill per year and the consequences of smoking and using tobacco. It also shows the percentages of how many people of various ethnicities smoke in the U.S. and how many smokers want to quit. Provides shocking statistics of how much effort is put into advertisements and how many people it affects per year to draw reader(s) in. This is a reliable source from a government funded website of the CDC.