GMAT : Analysis of An Issue

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An Issue

86. Whether promoting a product, an event or a person, an advertising campaign is most effective when it appeals to emotion rather than to reason.


Discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the opinion stated above. Support your views with reasons and/or examples from your own experience, observations or reading.


There are two traditional advertising tactics for promoting a product, event, candidate, or point of view.

1. One is to provide reasons.

2. The other is to bypass reasons altogether and appeal strictly to emotion.

Considered, in isolation, emotional appeals are far more effective. But many of the most influential ads combine slim reasons with powerful appeals to emotion.

To appreciate the power of emotional appeals we need only consider the promotion of sodas, beer, cigarettes, cosmetics and so on. This advertising is the most successful in the industry. And it trades almost exclusively on the manipulation of our desires, fears and senses of humour. In fact, it wouldn't make sense to offer up arguments, because there really aren't any good reasons for consuming such products.

Even so, some of these products are advertised with at least superficial reasoning. For instance, in the promotion of facial moisturizers it has become popular to use the image of a youthful woman with fresh, unlined skin along with the claim that the product can reduce the signs of aging. This is indeed a reason, but a carefully couched one that never really states that product users will look younger. Still, countless middle-aged women will pay twice as much for products that add this claim to the expected image of youthfulness that trades on their fears of growing

One of the most clever and ironic combined uses of reason and emotion is seen in the old Volvo slogan Volvo : The Car for people who think. The suggested reason for buying the car is obvious. It is the intelligent choice. But the emotional snare is equally clear. The ad appeals to one's desire to be included in the group of intelligent, thoughtful people.

In conclusion, I agree that appeals to emotion are more powerful tools than arguments or reasoning for promoting products. It is no coincidence that advertising agencies hire professional psychologists, but not logicians. Still, in my view the most influential advertisements mix in a bit of reasoning as well.

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