Persuasion in Advertising: Coca Cola


Today, my students and I discussed persuasion where we see it most frequently: in advertisements.  I asked the class to divide into teams, to find any commercial, to watch that commercial, and to analyze it for ethos, pathos, and logos.

My favorite commercial of the day came from Coca Cola.  The opening text explains that a 2010 study revealed the state of the world.  In a series of statistics, Coke compares and contrasts a heavy, negative fact with an uplifting, encouraging one.  Check it out below:


The students who selected and analyzed this video explained that the logos-driven commercial relied heavily on statistics but pointed out that not all statistics are logical… Some can be emotional as evidenced in Coke’s commercial.  This is something I’ve never even considered because statistics I’ve encountered in the past were matter-of-fact and flat.  While the music and happy children obviously add to the cheery feel, I had the strongest emotional pull after reading these bits of data:

“For every corrupt person / 8,000 people are donating blood”

“While one scientist is creating a new weapon / 1 million moms are baking chocolate cakes”

Presentation expert Nancy Duarte explains that we must do more than spit numbers at people in our presentations.  Instead, we must show the meaning behind the data (Source).  In a recent article for the HBR, Duarte writes, “Data slides aren’t really about the data. They’re about the meaning of the data. And it’s up to you to make that meaning clear before you click away. Otherwise, the audience won’t process — let alone buy — your argument” (Source).  Coke’s commercial is a great example of comparing and contrasting numbers to show a specific meaning – that there are reasons to believe in a better world.

Have you seen any great commercials lately?


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