Essay 4 – How Do Advertisers Try to Manipulate Us?

Spring, 2014
Instructor: Prof. Mitchell Smith

Essay #4 Instruction Sheet
How Do Advertisers Try to Manipulate Us?


Reminder–In your final draft, make sure to:

  • Double underline your Thesis Statement
  • Single underline your Topic Sentences

Length: minimum 6 pages, approximately 1250-1500 words

Due Date: Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Prompt: The prompt, or issue, for this assignment asks the question: “How do advertisers use emotional appeals to manipulate their readers, and based upon these appeals, who do they think their readers are?”

So, you will write an essay in which you examine a selection of advertisements from a single issue of a magazine you have selected. Examine at least ten full-page advertisements. Try to figure out which of Jib Fowles’ fifteen appeals (from his essay “Advertising’s Fifteen Basic Appeals” found on p. 136 of the Robinson text) is working in each ad. Your goal will be to find three or four appeals that dominate in the magazine’s ads. Based upon those appeals, come to a conclusion about how the advertisers see the demographics and psychographics of the ideal readers of the magazine.

In selecting the ten ads, make sure they are all from the same issue of one magazine and are full page ads (not partial pages or multiple pages). And make sure they are not part of an article or photo-pictorial.

You must include MLA in-text citations for quotations and paraphrases of Fowles’ source essay and an MLA works Cited page.

Purpose: This is a classification essay, so your main purpose will be to create sets and sub-sets to organize data and to find underlying patterns and meanings that might not be apparent otherwise. The essay would also fall under the general heading of expository essay where the main purpose is to inform and explain.

Audience: In this case, imagine writing your paper for a regular reader of the magazine you have selected. But the reader has not read the Jib Fowles essay and may not see how the advertisers attempt to manipulate readers.

Essay Structure and Content: Together in class, we will develop the following structure for this essay:

The essay should have an identifiable Introduction, Body, and Conclusion.

In your introduction, you should explain your purpose, your method and your thesis. The purpose will explain the question you are exploring and why it might be important to you or others. The method will include the details of your study: the magazine, the Fowles essay, the concept of appeals. The thesis will tell us in general terms how advertisers see readers of this magazine in terms of the demographics and psychographics.

In the body of your essay, identify the appeals you see at work in the ads by describing and interpreting specific qualities like the model(s), colors, graphics, layout, font, language. Remember, do not just identify the appeal with the product; use the ad itself.

We also decided in class that it would be most effective to organize the points in the body by appeals rather than by ad. If you have determined that your ads focus most on 3 or 4 appeals, then your essay’s Body will have 3 or 4 Roman numeral sections. These may each be one paragraph long or they may require more than one paragraph each to fully support your analysis. Remember also to have an organizing principle that determines the order of your body paragraphs. Give the reader some transitions along the way to make sure this organizing principle stays clear to them.

The Conclusion will then state how the advertisers see the demographics and psychographics of the ideal readers of the magazine, based upon those appeals you have identified.

So your essay may look like this:

I. Appeal 1
II. Appeal 2
III. Appeal 3

A given section may look like this:

I. Appeal 1
A. Ad 1 example
B. Ad 2 example
C. Ad 3 example

Paragraph structure: Use the PIE model discussed in class. “P” is the Point, which you will put in your Topic Sentence. In this essay, this is the place where you will identify one of the emotional appeals you have found to repeat in several ads. “I” is the Information you use to support your Point, and in this case is will be all the interpretations of the individual ads. “E” which ends the paragraph is the Explanation. What does the provided information mean? This is the explanation is the writer’s analysis, and for this paper, you might describe what the appeal you have just explored says about the advertisers’ beliefs about their readers. What do they think the readers are like (demographics) or what they feel and value (psychographics)? Your conclusion will tie all those E’s together, giving demographic and psychographic details in more specific terms.

Sentence structure: By this point we have studied strategies for shaping sentences with adjectives, verb forms, and prepositional phrases. Include sentences that use such sentences, cutting out “deadwood” and choppy, repetitive phrases. We have also worked on proper use of coordination, subordination, and transitional words and phrases. Use these tools thoughtfully (meaning both grammatically correct and clear in meaning) to create complex sentences in each of your paragraphs.

Format: Use the correct MLA manuscript format (the sample page will remain posted on the course webpage and can be found in your text Hacker p.583). Highlights include:

  • All essays must be typed and double-spaced
  • Margins must be 1-inch on all sides of the page
  • Use 12 point Times or Courier font (personal preference discussed in class)
  • Each essay should have your name, professor name (“Professor Smith”), course number (English 96 plus section number), and date at the top left corner of the first page
  • The title (not underlined or italicized or in quotes) should be centered above the first paragraph
  • A variation on MLA format: please staple multiple pages of final drafts (only) in the upper left corner
  • MLA Citations and Works Cited page
  • Double underline your Thesis Statement
  • Single underline your Topic Sentences (body paragraphs only—not intro or concl)

Usage Errors: This is your fourth essay, and usage errors will impact your grade. You may make up to two errors per page without a penalty. More than that will result in a grade of NP (not passing) and a required revision. Beyond basic grammar and spelling skills that incoming 100 students are expected to know, you will not be held responsible for grammar issues that we have not yet covered in the course. You will be responsible for rules about the following in your essay:

  •  Correct spelling and word choice
  • Sentence Fragments
  • Run-Together Sentences
  • Basic Subject-Verb Agreement
  • Homonym errors
  • Capitalization
  • Conjunctive adverbs, transitional phrases, and subordinating conjunctions
  • Apostrophes and Possessives
  • Punctuation of Titles
  • Quotations and Quotation marks
  • Semicolon, Colon, and End punctuation
  • Pronoun antecedents, reference, and case

As we write more essays and cover more sentence development elements, your responsibilities will increase.

Pre-writings: Your pre-writings for this essay will include:

  • Typed set of notes for 3 ads identifying the appeal you see at work in them. (Due 9/30)
  • Typed set of notes for 7 more ads identifying the appeal you see at work in them. (Due 10/2)
  • Partial rough draft 1: one rough paragraph explaining how the most dominant appeal appears in various ads. (Due 10/7)
  • Rough draft 2: all body paragraphs (Due 10/9)
  • Rough draft 3: full essay (Due 10/14)
  • Peer review (in-class 10/14)
  • Final Draft (Due 10/21)

MOST IMPORTANT: You must turn in your set of 10 (or more) ads!!! I cannot grade your essay unless I see the ads you are analyzing. You may turn in a complete magazine as long as you tab or mark the relevant pages.


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