GMAT : Analysis of An Argument

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An Argument

58. The following is from a campaign by Big Boards, Inc. to convince companies in River City that their sales will increase if they use Big Boards billboards for advertising their locality manufactured products.

The potential of Big Boards to increase sales of your products can be seen from an experiment we conducted last year. We increased public awareness of the name of the current national women's marathon champion by publishing her picture and her name on billboards in River City for a period for three months. Before this time, although the champion had just won her little and was receiving extensive national publicity, only five percent of 15,000 randomly surveyed residents of River City could correctly name the champion when shown her picture. After the three-month advertising experiment, 35 percent of respondents from a second survey could supply her name.


Discuss how well reasoned you find this argument. In your discussion be sure to analyze the line of reasoning and the use of evidence in the argument. For example, you may need to consider what questionable assumptions underline the thinking and what alternative explanations or counterexamples might weaken the conclusion. You can also discuss what sort of evidence would strengthen or refute the argument, what changes in the argument would make it more logically sound and what, if anything, would help you better evaluate in conclusion.


In an advertising experiment, Big Board, Inc. displayed the name and picture of a little-known athlete on several of its local billboards over a 3-month period. Because the experiment increased recognition of the athlete's name, Big Boards now argues that local companies will increase their sales if they advertise their products on Big Board's billboards.

This argument is unconvincing for two important reasons.

The main problem with this argument is that the advertising experiment with the athlete shows only that name recognition can be increased by billboard advertising. It does not show that product sales can be increased by this form of advertising. Name recognition, while admittedly an important aspect of a product's selling potential, is not the only reason merchandise sells. Affordability, quality and desirability are equally, if not more, important features a product must possess in order to sell. To suggest, as Big Board's campaign does, that name recognition alone is sufficient to increase sales is not correct.

Another problem with the argument is that while the first survey - in which only five percent of 15,000 randomly-selected residents could name the athlete - seems reliable, the results of the second survey are questionable on two grounds. First, the argument provides no information regarding how many residents were polled in the second surveyor and how they were selected. Secondly, the argument does not indicate the total number of respondents to the second survey. In the absence of this information about the second survey, it is impossible to determine the significance of its results.

In conclusion, Big Board's argument is not convincing. To strengthen the argument, Big Board must provide additional information regarding the manner in which the second survey was conducted. It must also provide additional evidence that an increase in name recognition will result in an increase in sales.

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