Ad analysis


An advertisement is primarily a public notice that is aimed at informing and motivating the consumers to purchase whatever is being sold based on its perceived value in their lives. This means that the main aim of the company that is advertising is to reach out and appeal to the customers viewing the ad. There are many different types of ads used by marketers to pass the message across and not all of them are commercial. Social marketing also embraces the use of ads aimed at creating social awareness and eliminating a given problem in the society. Print ads are particularly effective in that they use pictures and words to create a lasting impression on the audience. The limitations of a good print ad are actually responsible for the effectiveness of the message that is passed across. The few words and the iconography used work together to provide significant connotations beyond the obvious denotations in the ad. This paper relies on the safe drive campaign advertisement to analyze various elements that ads use to drive the intended message to the audience. The analysis explores various visual aspects and reason, emotion and fear that the ad uses to communicate the message to the audience effectively.

The Ad

For this paper, the ad being analyzed is a social marketing ad aimed at promoting careful driving especially during the school holidays. With children being at home, it is more likely that they will be playing or walking along the roads thus being more prone to accidents that result from careless driving. This particular ad comprises of a picture of a couple that seems to be having a conversation while looking at a map and the driver is on the phone. In the back seat of the car is a child who can only be seen through the mirror and in front of the car is a child about to be run over since the driver is not looking at the road. In the ad, the audience is shielded from seeing the eyes of the child who is about to be run over. Instead, the occupants in the car though are capable of seeing the eyes of the child who is seated in the back seat of the car through the driving mirror. The only words in the ad are at the bottom of the picture and they appeal to the public to be more careful while driving during school holidays since the number of car accidents involving children always increases during such times.

Appeals and Visuals

Appeals can be defined as a persuasive pressure around which the advertisement is built. It acts like the central theme of the message being conveyed in the ad. “Appeals are then accompanied by visuals elements that help to drive the message home” (Oswald 127). This particular ad employs three identifiable appeals which are reason, emotion and fear. The rational appeal uses facts and details that are aimed at persuading the audience on the subject of the advertisement (O’Neill 186). In this case, the visuals provided include the child in front of the car and the wording at the bottom of the advertisement. From the picture, it is evident that the ad is about school-aged children who are involved in accidents while on holiday. The child in front of the car is about to be run over, thus adding on to the statistics of children who get in to accidents while at home for the holidays. The wording at the bottom of the ad clearly states that the number of accidents involving children increases during the school holidays. This is a fact aimed at getting the audience to pay more attention to their driving based on the fact that it is actually time for the school holidays. Without providing a full analysis of the statistics behind this statement, the ad is actually able to get the audience to think about their driving.

The second appeal is emotional and the connected visuals include the eyes of the child in the mirror as well as the look on the face of the child who is about to be run over. Being run over by a car is a painful experience and in some cases, it ends with very bad implications in terms of physical and emotional trauma as well as the risk of death. In this ad, the child who is about to be run over has a horrified facial expression showing how scary an accident is for a child. The child whose eyes are reflected in the driving mirror is also scared as they watch another child about to be run over by a car. Therefore, the audience gets to see what being run over by a car means to other children. Such a scene is likely to get people to pay attention and therefore drive more carefully as intended by the ad.
The third appeal that can be seen is the fear appeal, with the visual being the fact that the eyes of the child in the back seat appear to be on the face of the child who is about to be run down by the car. Any parent looking at this ad would be scared into driving carefully. The imagery is aligned in a way that says the child in the outside might just as well be the child in the back seat. As such, the ad has played with the concept of iconography to get the attention of the audience(O’Neill 181). Parents would give anything to ensure that their children are safe and in this case they can be expected to start driving more carefully if they are afraid to run over their children.

Formal Elements

The formal elements of an ad include the space and color. Space, dark colors at the bottom and lighter colors at the top are used to explain the differences in the mood within the car and the mood outside the car (Johnson 61). In the car, the parents in the front seem to be having a relatively warm conversation seeing as the lady is smiling and the driver is looking at the map while probably speaking or listening to someone on the cell phone. The inside of the car is clear and the coloring is rather bright. Outside of the car on the other hand seems very foggy and somber. Everything seems pale and distant. This reflects the mood of the child who is about to be run down. While the driver is inside the car, warm and safe with his wife and child, the other child on the outside is alone in a cold and somber world with nothing to protect him from the carelessness of this reckless driver. The car is enclosed and thus safe, while the outside is open and thus dangerous. In advertising, such an aspect enlightens the audience in the fact that when the children are on holidays, they are not safe and it is thus up to the parents to protect them by driving carefully.

Propaganda Technique Used In the Ad

Pathos is a propaganda technique that is frequently used to appeal to the emotions of the audience to get the message listened to. In this ad, the audience is able to look into the eyes of the child in the back seat as the other child is about to be run over by the car. The audience also gets to see the horrified facial expression of the child involved in the accident. These two children play the same role in appealing to the audience to drive more carefully. First, the child on the outside inspires the sympathy of the audience for being run over on a cold and foggy day and by a driver who is not being careful at all. The other child on the other hand has to watch a fellow child being run over by a car and they cannot do anything to help. A situation like this is traumatizing for the child especially considering that, they are likely to feel unsafe on the streets as well. The audience in this case should be able to appreciate how both children are affected by careless driving, thus enabling them to drive very carefully in order not to harm any children be they victims or witnesses of an accident.

Logos is also invoked in this ad based on the wording at the bottom of the photograph. Stating that the number of children involved in road accidents increase during school holidays implies that since children are on the streets during school holidays, they are more likely to get run over unless the drivers apply extreme caution during this period. The logic in this appeal is that when children are in school, the driver may not be at risk for a road accident because there are no children on the streets. With the children on holidays however, there is a higher chance for an accident involving a child thus there is a need to apply more caution when driving during school holidays. This same logic applies when a driver is within a school or a park. When there are many children around, accidents are more likely to happen and thus the best way to prevent one is to be more careful as a driver.

The Extreme Message in This Ad

The ad achieves to deliver the message to the audience in a number of ways. First, the ad is cautioning the audience on the risks faced by children during school holidays especially when they are on the streets or when they have to cross a road. The second message is about how driving recklessly can affect children, whether they are victims or witnesses in a road accident. The third message in this ad is that people, and especially parents, can reduce the number of accidents involving children by simply paying more attention to the road when driving. This is the main message in the ad, and it is appealing to drivers to consider the plight of the children as they drive around during the school holidays.


Ads often have a message that they need to send to the audience and this message is not always commercial. In this case, the main aim of an ad is to inform the public about the negative implications of a social trend like reckless driving. To get the message across, the advertisers should be able to build the ad on a relevant appeal. In this case, the advertiser used fear, reason, logic and emotions among other tools and all of these worked together to ensure that the message is received by the intended audience. The fear is exploited using the faces of the children in the ad, with the facial expression and the eyes working to convey the effects of these accidents on the children whether they are victims or witnesses. Parents need to understand that they owe it to the children to drive carefully during the holidays. Rational appeal is on the other hand invoked through the wording that offers a factual piece of information regarding the increase in accidents involving children when they are on holiday. As for the emotional appeal, the children’s plight in the event of an accident should be enough to appeal to the audience to help prevent these accidents in order to protect children from such horrific experiences.
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