How are pathos, logos, and ethos used in Apple's "Think Different" commercial, the Pfizer graffiti commercial, and AT&T's texting and driving survey commercial?

Expert Answers

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Let's begin by defining these terms. Ethos, logos, and pathos are all appeals to some aspect of your reasoning capacities.

  • Logos is an appeal to your sense of logic. It involves a use of reason and facts to sway your opinion.
  • Pathos is an appeal to your emotions. It might might involve personal stories of tragedy or triumph or appeal to your personal beliefs.
  • Ethos is an appeal to your sense of credibility. Personal credentials, trustworthiness, and expert opinions are often used to sway opinions using ethos.

Using that information, let's examine the "Think Different" commercial. Pathos is used by encouraging viewers to avoid being like the "status quo"—much as these visionaries did. You can "glorify or vilify them" but you can't "ignore them." Those are emotionally charged words that foster feelings of positivity for the independent thinkers featured in the ad.

Ethos is demonstrated by the use of celebrities from all walks of life: Mahatma Gandhi, John Lennon, Martin Luther King Jr., Albert Einstein, and others. These were all leaders in their respective fields, which lends credibility to the brand for also being a leader in its market. Logos is evident near the end: "People who are crazy enough to believe that they can change the world are the ones who do." This sense of logic encourages viewers to also be "crazy" enough to think differently; after all, it is logical that one would want to be more like Amelia Earhart or Pablo Picasso.

The Pfizer commercial leans heavily into pathos. At first, the young man is portrayed as deviant, and the mood is dark and ominous. This shifts when he goes home, entering the bedroom of his presumed younger sister with flowers. His graffiti turns out to be an inspirational piece of art for his sick sister, which flips the emotional response of the audience. The tears in the mother's eyes mirror the emotional response of viewers. Ethos is at work near the end when the words "Sometimes it takes more than medication" are flashed on the screen.

The implication here is that Pfizer (a pharmaceutical company) has a reputation that understands the diverse needs of patients, including the need to see beauty and compassion in the midst of illness. This line establishes a point of trustworthiness for the company. The line could also be seen as an example of logos; patients don't just need medicine to heal—they need people who love them and who are willing to make sacrifices for them.

I hope these explanations help as you work on the third commercial. Good luck!

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