Fallacies in Advertisements
This essay analyzes various fallacies that have become a commonplace in commercial advertisements. The essay identifies a number of such fallacies and attempts to explain their intended purposes. According to the essay, the inventors of these fallacies assume that all their potential customers would draw a similar meaning from the fallacies (Walton, 2008).
Fallacies in Advertisements
The fallacy used by the Pepsi advertisement would certainly confuse unsuspecting persons. The claim that “56% of Pepsi-Cola drinkers agree that it has a greater cola taste as compared to Diet Cola” gives an impression that the market is obsessed with Pepsi-Cola. They tend to create a mentality that consumption of Pepsi-Cola is a popular culture that people should embrace. However, a critical analysis of the advert suggests otherwise. For instance, it is clear that 44% of Pepsi consumers do not approve of it. The prospective customers should, therefore, ask themselves why only 56% and not 100% of consumers approve of the cola taste in Pepsi-Cola (Bhatia 2000).
There are other commercial advertisements that claim that they can enable you “make a lot of money from the comfort of your own home”. This is often emphasized by featuring some excited lovers with big pools and shiny cars. Ideally, this gives the viewer an impression that they will live the same kind of life. However, in a tiny print at the bottom of the screen they warn that “the actual success rates may vary”. Essentially, this kind of fallacy appeals to probability by making the assumption that eventually acquiring wealth is quite an inevitable thing (Walton, 2008).
In some instances, drug commercials outline a variety of reasons why their drugs are superior. In the end, they insert a phrase like “Tell your doctor about drug X”. This is quite baffling in the sense that it is your doctor who shall be able to tell you if indeed the drug is of superior efficacy. This is a typical base rate fallacy as it makes probability judgment considering the effects of related probabilities (Walton, 2008).
Commercial advertisements related to detergents are particularly interesting. They often bear claims and counterclaims of superior strength. For instance, it’s a commonplace to see phrases like “detergent X is 40% stronger” without including what exactly it is that they are stronger than. This perfectly fits into fallacy of attribution as the argument is both irrelevant and unqualified to support the assertion (Bhatia 2000).
Some statements in advertisements are just absolutely unrealistic. For instance, there a cutlery advertisement that says that it will enable you to “peel your potatoes in 8 seconds of actual time”. This is simply impossible, not to mention the quantity of potatoes involved. In this case, a false analogy has been used in order to oversimplify the situation thereby leaving the listener confused (Walton, 2008).
In conclusion, fallacies in advertisements generally intend to make a false impression by limiting people’s choice. As such, they prevent them from considering other options that could be much better. Nonetheless, the advertisements still manage to persuade people to use their products (Bhatia 2000).
- Bhatia (2000). Advertising in Rural India. Language, Marketing, Communication and Consumerism. Oxford University Press
- Walton, D. (2008). Informal Logic: A Pragmatic Approach (2nd ed.). Cambridge University Press.