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For this writing project, I want you to imagine a hypothetical situation. DO NOT refer to this
hypothetical situation in your project—this is just background.
You are working for a company who does advertising. There are two major groups working
for this company, and the other group has come up with a possible ad for a product. Your group
has been asked to critique it. Your project will be written as a concise but thorough,
business-like report for a boss. Nothing general about advertising should be included, and you
should not talk about yourself or your group at all. Just focus on the ad and the critique.
Purpose and Audience:
● Your audience for this critique is your boss. Therefore, avoid “I” or “you” or “we” or any
pronoun that’s informal or personal in the paper. Write in third person perspective, as
if you’re writing up a formal report. Be thorough but as concise as possible, avoiding
any general information about marketing, etc.
● Your purpose is to analyze 1) what persuasive techniques are being used (select
three-four for this length paper) and 2) whether or not you think they are likely to be
successful for various audience wants/needs. If you think they are likely to be
successful, you need to explain why and for whom, based on an extensive audience
analysis. See below for more information about how to do this.
Steps for Getting Started:
Brainstorming for the Audience Analysis:
● The audience analysis is often overlooked, but is actually one of the most
important parts of this project. You will be asked to include an extensive audience
analysis in your introduction and then use that audience analysis throughout your body
paragraphs. For the audience analysis, consider everything that might be going into
whether different people who see the ad might choose to buy or not buy the product.
Remember, people can like an ad BUT still not choose to buy a product because they
have some values that outweigh their like of the ad. Below is an example of the
brainstorming you might do in order to generate some audience analysis and eventually
a controlling idea, or thesis statement, for your project.
o For example, if your product is Coke, Step 1 is to make note of the following list
of things people might want/need/value from a drink. Don’t think of the ad at all
for this first step. (If you have trouble with doing this, ask your friends and family
what might make them buy the product and what might make them choose not to
buy it. You could even show them the ad and ask if they would buy the product
now and why or why not. Make sure you distinguish between just enjoying the ad
and actually wanting to go out and buy the product.) Viewers might:
▪ Enjoy a refreshing drink
▪ Like to drink what is popular
▪ Be watching their calorie intake
▪ Be wanting something natural/organic, without artificial flavors or
▪ Prefer something generic because it’s cheaper
o Step 2, think about the persuasive techniques you see in the ad. Some of the
homework assignments we do leading up to this project will help you understand
what persuasive techniques are. For this example, maybe you decide to talk
about use of color to indicate energy; use of celebrity to indicate youthfulness
and community; and use of humor to keep people’s attention as they watch the
▪ Note: The audience, or where the ad was shown, or when, should not
be used as a persuasive technique. For the persuasive techniques, focus
on specific ways the ad was designed to appeal to audiences and focus
on only what’s inside the ad. Also, do not focus on anything specific to
the product—for example, if a Coke bottle is red and white, you can’t talk
about that as a persuasive technique because it’s always red and
white—that’s just what the product looks like. If other elements of the ad
were red, you could talk about that.
o Step 3: Decide which of the audience’s wants/needs/values from Step 1 might
be swayed by which persuasive techniques. Here, I’m just brainstorming—I
haven’t decided yet which combinations I want to focus on for my ultimate thesis
statement (argument for the paper) yet.
▪ Use of color to indicate energy: This persuasive technique might sway
those who like to drink what is popular and those who like the idea of a
refreshing drink but is unlikely to sway those watching their calories or
wanting something natural/organic or those who don’t like to pay a lot for
▪ Use of celebrity to indicate youthfulness and community: This
persuasive technique might sway those who like to drink what is popular
and those who like the idea of a refreshing drink but is unlikely to sway
those watching their calories or wanting something natural/organic or
those who don’t like to pay a lot for drinks.
▪ Use of humor to keep people’s attention as they watch the ad: This
persuasive technique might sway those who like to drink what is popular
and those who like the idea of a refreshing drink but is unlikely to sway
those watching their calories or wanting something natural/organic or
those who don’t like to pay a lot for drinks.
o Step 4: So you’ve decided which people’s wants/needs/values are likely to be or
not be met by the persuasive techniques in the ad. The next helpful thing you can
do for a boss is to provide suggestions for the ad to be more persuasive.
▪ What could the ad add or change to better appeal to those who are
watching calories? Perhaps the ad could show how drinking the Coke is
worth not having lesser desired treats throughout the day? Or perhaps the
use of slim, in shape, athletic characters in the ad could convince viewers
that they too could drink Coke and stay in shape?
▪ What could the ad add or change to better appeal to those who are
wanting something natural/organic? Perhaps they could use colors or
scenery that suggest mountains and natural ingredients and spring water,
▪ What could the ad add or change to better appeal to those who are
thinking generic is just as good and/or are concerned about cost?
Perhaps they could show a person drinking a generic drink and feeling
jealous about the enjoyment and community the ones drinking Coke are
o Step 5: Decide which persuasive techniques and which audience values you
want to focus on in your controlling idea (also called thesis statement). Read the
information below this for ideas on how to do this. Remember to put Step 1,
your general audience analysis, in the middle of the introduction paragraph.
Creating a Controlling Idea (also sometimes called “Thesis Statement”:
● Your controlling idea for this writing project should be at the end of your paragraph. It
could be multiple sentences. It should make an argument for whether or not each of the
persuasive techniques (try for three-four techniques for this length paper) are likely to be
successful for various specific audience needs/wants/values and why. It should match
the arguments in your later body paragraphs in content and order.
● Important Note #1: You don’t need to mention every need/want/value you brainstormed
about in your controlling idea, but try to pick a few primary issues that you’d like to focus
● Important Note #2: Do not just say in your controlling idea something like “The ad would
likely be persuasive to those who like the celebrity, but not to those who do not like the
celebrity.” Remember, you’re comparing an audience value regarding the PRODUCT
(Coke) with the effect of the persuasive technique, not just talking about the persuasive
technique by itself. In other words, I might like Taylor Swift (a celebrity), but that does not
mean that I will ever buy Coke. I don’t want to drink all that sugar or artificial colors, etc.
The opposite is true too—I might not like Taylor Swift’s music, but I might still be perfectly
willing to buy Coke because it’s delicious. It’s the in-between people who are most
important here because they are most likely to be persuaded—the people who maybe
choose Pepsi or Mountain Dew or Gatorade but who really love or want to be like Taylor
Swift and so will choose Coke because she is in the ad.
● Example Controlling Idea / Thesis Statement—please try to follow this pattern very
closely: The Coke ad’s use of color to indicate energy, celebrity to indicate youthfulness
and community, and humor to keep people’s attention as they watch the ad is likely to be
persuasive to those who like sugary drinks and also want to feel energized in their day,
as well as those who want to be a part of a community and be popular. The persuasive
techniques are not likely to persuade those who are have a decided preference for a
different drink, who are concerned about calories, organic/natural ingredients, or those
who like to buy generic to save money.
Creating Supporting Points (also called Topic Sentences) to Start Each Body Paragraph
● Supporting Points (for your body paragraphs): For the example above, the
supporting points could be the following (I’m making an argument about each persuasive
technique and deciding which audience wants/needs/values I want to talk about with
each. I’m trying to mix and match my discussion of audience wants/needs/values so I’m
not repeating myself. It’s okay if there is some repetition. Note the use of the qualifier “is
likely to” to indicate that I don’t know for sure—I’m just making my best guess.)
o 1) The Coke ad’s use of color to indicate energy is likely to be persuasive to
those who like sugary drinks and also want to feel energized in their day. It’s
unlikely to be persuasive to those who are concerned about health, whether
calories or artificial ingredients.
o 2) The Coke ad’s use of celebrity to indicate youthfulness and community is likely
to be persuasive to those who like sugary drinks and want to be a part of a
popular group or want to be like famous people. If they have a strong preference
for a different drink, such as Pepsi, celebrity appeal will likely not work for them.
o 3) The Coke ad’s use of humor to keep people’s attention as they watch the ad is
likely to be persuasive to those who like most sugary drinks and just need
something fun to convince them to choose one over the other. It’s unlikely to
persuade those who have strong feelings about a particular drink or active people
who prefer a healthy drink or a more athletic type drink such as Gatorade that
doesn’t produce a sugar crash.
● Discussion of Revisions to the Ad: These should not be in a separate paragraph by
themselves; make a note to yourself for a reasonable, specific suggestion that could
draw in more audiences that you could add to the end of each body paragraph. Make
sure it’s detailed enough that it could be implemented right away by someone reading
your work.
Expectations for Sources:
Choosing Sources:
1. You’ll pick a primary text to analyze: You can choose the advertisement that you want to
analyze for this project.
a. It must have been created within the last twenty years and have been created for
a U.S. audience.
b. It can be a static visual, or a very short (few second or minute) video. You must
be able to study the source for a long period of time, so, for example, if you pick a
TV commercial, you need to be able to record it.
c. It must have a clear persuasive intent to sell a product, not just to provide
information. Something like a movie or video game trailer wouldn’t work.
2. You’ll also pick one credible secondary source: This secondary source should be a
credible and useful source from the Internet or library databases that speaks to one of
the persuasive techniques that you chose. You only need to include this in one of your
body paragraphs. Do not use multiple secondary sources. Focus on finding just one
good one and integrating it very well.
a. Often articles from the mass communication or business marketing fields can be
useful. For example, it could be an article on how different colors help persuade
people by making them feel a certain way, or why people are more persuaded by
ads with certain images in them such as puppies or babies, etc.
b. The secondary source cannot be someone else analyzing the product you
chose. The analysis of your ad needs to be completely your own analysis.
c. The research librarians would be happy to help you find a useful source. See the
library website for contact information.
Required Structure for Rough/Final Draft:
Style reminders:
● Format your draft just like the MLA sample paper in The Norton Field Guide to Writing.
Add a centered title that is appropriate for a formal analysis report. It should convey
something of your conclusions, not just your topic. Note also that the font is Times New
Roman 12 point font (including the header, which needs to be changed separately).
● Use only third person perspective (no “you” or “I”). Assume a professional, business-like
tone. Be thorough and specific but also concise and direct. Qualify all your claims
(using words like “likely” or “will often” etc.) since you don’t know for sure whether the ad
would or would not work for the audience—you are just making your best guess.
An introduction paragraph:
● Start with a full introduction paragraph (write formally, concisely, and professionally to
your audience (your boss) as explained in the first section of this assignment sheet).
Avoid any general information about persuasion that a marketing boss would
already know.
o Introduce the ad—who the company is and what they are selling. If you use
material from a source, rather than just in general what’s in the ad, be clear about
where your information is coming from—what site and page or article.
o Provide a thorough audience analysis for the product involved. See the
audience analysis section above for more information about this.
o End with your controlling idea. See the controlling idea (thesis statement)
section above for more information about this.
A descriptive summary paragraph:
● Completely and specifically describe what’s in the ad using vivid details, and locational
cues such as right, left, foreground, background, size comparisons, etc. so that readers
can picture the elements of the ad and their relationship to each other in their minds
even if they haven’t seen the ad. They should feel that they could accuately re-create the
ad or video using just your words. Use your Writing Project 1 skills of vivid narration and
description. Include no analysis or evaluation language here. Show me you can
focus on just writing in a descriptive summary style.
Supporting body paragraphs:
● Introduce each supporting paragraph with a topic sentence that makes a claim about a
persuasive technique. See the section above about supporting paragraph points (or
topic sentences).
● After each topic sentence, present specific, vivid details and examples from the text that
explain and support the idea in the topic sentence.
● Refer back to your audience analysis from your introduction to explain which
wants/needs/values would likely be persuaded by this particular persuasive technique
and which likely wouldn’t. Remember, your goal here is to decide whether the ad
would likely sell the product, not just to help the ad be interesting to viewers.
● Incorporate your secondary source into one of your body paragraphs. Use the
mandatory steps for integrating source material (these are listed in the next section)
when you include material from a source.
● Explain and respond to alternate perspectives. Thoughtfully explore other choices that
could have been made in the ad and some pros and cons of those choices vs. the
current ones. For example, if you’re talking about celebrity appeal, how might a different
actor or athlete, etc. lend different characteristics to the ad? Some might add
youthfulness; some might add sex appeal; some might add resilience and determination.
What would be good and bad about that for the people deciding whether to buy this
product? If you’re talking about colors, what would the affect of different color choices
have been, and why would that be better or worse? If there are any audiences who
wouldn’t likely get what they need from the ad, what specifically would you recommend
be added or changed and why to appeal to different audience wants/needs/values?
● For any weaknesses you’ve identified, offer very specific, concrete revisions that could
be made to the ad. For example, if the brand looks like it’s for people with a lot of money,
and only celebrities are wearing the clothes, perhaps showing in the ad a range of
products and people wearing their clothes in informal situations.
● At the end of each paragraph, return to your main point. Each paragraph should have a
circular feel, and should feel like a mini paper within a paper.
● End with a full conclusion paragraph that concisely summarizes your conclusions (in
the same order as you raised them in your paper), your suggestions for change, and
makes your overall recommendation for future action clear to your audience for this
paper, your boss.
Works Cited page:
● The source material must be cited correctly on a properly formatted Works Cited page at
the end of your essay.
● See the end of the “MLA Style” chapter of The Norton Field Guide to Writing for a
sample Works Cited page. Follow the formatting guidelines there. Use Times New
Roman 12 point font for your whole project.
● On the Works Cited Table of Contents page, at the start of the MLA Style chapter, look
for the best citation for your sources. Some common ones used are the following:
o Work on a website
o Advertisement (Note: A YouTube video citation model is in the MLA Style chapter
of the Field Guide under “Audio, Visual, and Other Sources” / “Video”
● Ask me ASAP if you aren’t sure about which citation model from the Field Guide to use
for the citations you have! Give me detailed information about each source, and which
model you think would be best, so I know you’re putting in effort to use the Field Guide.
Steps for Integrating Source Material:
You must properly integrate references to all sources used within the essay by using the
following steps for integrating source material (these are mandatory!! DO NOT turn in a
rough draft without trying to do each of these, in this order!)
1. Introduce the source fully and establish credibility. Provide all available information:
the author’s name, the title of the article (capital letters and quotation marks), the title
of the publication (capital letters and italics), the date of publication, the author or
organization’s credentials, etc.
2. Concisely summarize the source’s arguments (don’t include examples/quotes—don’t
just announce topics).
3. Provide some context for the quote you are going to be adding so that readers
understand what point the author was making in that part of the essay. This is
especially important if you’re giving the results of a study or referring to people /
ideas who were explained earlier.
4. Use a signal phrase to clarify who is speaking before giving the quote or
paraphrase. For a quote, this would sound like the following: John Smith writes, “…”
or Sarah Thomson argues, “…” For a paraphrase, this would sound like the
following: John Smith writes that…. or Sarah Thomson argues that… Note that with
the quote, you use a comma before the quote. With a paraphrase you replace the
comma with the word “that.” If there is no author, you could say “According to…” and
provide the title of the article, etc. If you need help with your source, ask! Write a
quote exactly as it was written in the book, replacing any double quotation marks in
the book with single quotation marks. Write a paraphrase using completely your own
words and phrasing. If you use any of the author’s words you need to show that with
quotation marks. (Use only quotes for this project—it’s helpful for readers to hear
ideas in the author’s own words.)
5. End the quote with an in-text citation if needed—if you mention the author’s
name and article title, etc. when you introduce the quote, as I am asking you to do for
this project, you do not need to repeat either in the in-text citation. What you
would include is a page number if you are quoting or paraphrasing from a print text.
That might look like the following: John Smith argues, “We should all try to get along”
(56). Note that the period needs to be moved from the end of the sentence to the end
of the in-text citation. If your source provides the paragraph numbers for paragraphs,
you would include that instead. Write (par. 5) for your in-text citation. If you’re using a
video, you could include the time stamp (1:24) as your in-text citation. Otherwise,
don’t use one. Also, don’t include the year of publication in an in-text citation—MLA
never asks for that.
6. Explain the meaning of the quote to readers—don’t assume that your readers are
getting the same thing out of it that you did. Tell them what you think the author
7. Explain why the quote is important. Along with this, you could compare or contrast
what the author said or did in the quote or paraphrase to your beliefs/experience to
further develop the point for readers. Make sure the point you are making is the
same point you’ve been developing for the whole paragraph. Keep tying everything
8. If you used a quote, triple-check the accuracy of your copying of it. It’s very bad to
not be diligent enough to faithfully represent another person’s words.
Submission of Work:

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