Rhetorical Analysis Of A Cigarette Advertisement

1692 words - 7 pages

Cigarette advertisements reflect society’s love-hate relationship with tobacco products through the ages. During its heyday of popularity, cigarette advertisements were not governed in any way, allowing tobacco companies to use any means necessary to sell their products including advertising during popular children’s television shows. This practice came under scrutiny around 1964 when the Surgeon General released its first report on “smoking and health.” This report stated that smoking may be hazardous to your health. Soon to follow the release of this report was a ban on all cigarette advertisements on television and radio.
In the 1940’s and 1950’s research was being conducted to see what ...view middle of the document...

Today knowing how horrible cigarettes are for you and those around you (second hand smoke), it is hard to believe that a doctor would promote such a thing or that the general public would believe and go along with it. But today doctors are seen much differently than in the 50’s. This ad incorporates the shared belief that Doctors are ethical, trustworthy, and the top authoritarian on people’s health because of their expertise and education. When you read this ad you believe the doctor wouldn’t tell you anything that wasn’t true because he is honest and reliable. After all, he took an oath, the Hippocratic Oath, which states: “I will keep them from harm or injustice.” This ad lists doctors as one of the busiest men in town, a scientist, a diplomat, and a friendly sympathetic human being all in one. These words also have you believe this man, doctor, is also your friend. Both of these images give you the feeling that this person has your back, as a professional and as a friend.
The doctor and his credibility as a professional, definitely point toward ethos in this ad, but it also lends itself to describe or point out the culture that created as well as the culture that exists within this ad. And that culture draws from the very heart of the typical American stereotype. This stereotype wants us to believe only white rich professional men are to be considered the true authoritarian on all matters pertaining to life. That they are to be held with the upmost respect and not to be questioned. This is the same culture of men that believed they were superior to all others, proving this point by starting wars, enslaving and controlling other humans and even slaughtering those who opposed them. We see this reflected in the attitudes and repeated in the actions of white men throughout American history. Just ask us, white rich men, for we have all the answers and know what is good for you!
This American culture holds true right down to the afterthought cameo appearance of a woman in this ad. A very small picture of a beautiful woman smiling while holding a cigarette. What was the point of placing this picture in the ad, was it really necessary in the end and did it enhance or take away from the major rhetoric context of the text? The woman in my opinion just helps to reinforce this idea of needing a man, an authoritarian figure, to explain what is best for her. This idea brings to mind a statement my husband often makes when I questioned something he is doing or saying, of course he thinks he is cute when he says the following: “Don’t worry your pretty little head, just trust me baby.” This statement whether it comes across as endearing or meant to put me in my place backs up the overall reason for adding a woman to the ad.
R.J. Reynolds is banking on the fact that people are in tune with the culture they are trying to both create and draw from. They are banking on the fact you are gullible enough to believe what you read in this ad...

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