Rhetorical Analysis

1272 words - 6 pages

Rhetorical Analysis of Two PSAIt was interesting to read that the Keep America Beautiful ad was aired on Earth Day in 1971. I was not alive at that time, but pollution was a heavy issue at the time. The recent Canadian PSA was aired in 2006 and I feel focuses on the environment on a broader outlook. The Native American actor, Iron Eyes Cody, was a movie actor at the time. It was interesting to find out that he became the face of environmental consciousness in the 1970's. The reason that Public Service Announcements started being aired was to get the general public's attention on issues going on in the world. These ads are on common ground in the effect to catch the viewer's attention, but with them being aired forty-five years apart it also makes them very different. Technology has obviously changed drastically in the forty-five year span and affects the quality of the video. The target audience on these ads is drastically different and can change the effectiveness of them as a whole. Pollution and littering, in my opinion, are sub topics of the global warming problem. I feel that these two ads have much in common, but also differ completely.Technology of different timesCommercial technology has advanced in an amazing way in the past fifty years. Watching these two ads is a perfect example of this advancement. Keeping America Beautiful is very basic with Iron Eyes paddling down the river in his canoe. He then gets out of his canoe and walks by the highway only to get a bag of trash thrown in his face. Regardless of the effectiveness of this PSA, it was probably a much cheaper PSA compared to the Canadian WWF ad. The WWF ad used computer graphics and was able to contrast people walking down the street in a hurricane, as if it was a clear sunny day. The ad showed a family camping in the woods with a forest fire right behind them, all while a family's house and car are under water and they are outside doing summer activities. I am sure that nowadays plugging people into drastic looking conditions is not as expensive as it once was, but it is a technology that did not exist when Keeping America Beautiful was aired. I don't think that the PSA budget has anything to do with the effectiveness of the ad. We can see proof of this in the drug PSA that shows the egg frying in a pan. That ad required an egg and pan and in my eyes was probably the most effective PSA I, personally, have ever watched. Regardless of the PSA budget, it is the message that is portrayed to the public that matters the most.The audience of the PSA mattersTarget audience is probably the highest priority in commercials. There is a reason that you don't see beer commercials on Nickelodeon and why toy ads don't appear on ESPN. The ad is meant to catch the attention of the age group that will most likely be the viewers. I believe the bigger the target audience, the effective an ad will be. In my opinion, Keeping America Beautiful has a much broader target audience than the Canadian PSA. I believe that Keeping America Beautiful could catch the attention of a five and ninety five year old. The ad is very simple and I think a 5 year old could watch this and understand that littering can destroy America. I think the message clearly states that littering is bad and that is can be stopped by only us. In comparison, the Canadian PSA I feel has a higher educated target audience due to the global warming subject. I know that when I was much younger that I would have had no clue what global warming even was, much less understand what this PSA was even trying to say. Again, I don't think that this has a direct effect on if gets the message across, I just feel that it is targeting a high school age and up audience. I saw the egg in a frying pan ad when I was very young, and there is a reason I remember it. It was a very simple PSA, yet caught my attention to remember 25 years later. Target audience is an important factor and although these ads are portraying the same general message, there is a significant difference in the audience these two Public Service Announcements are capturing.Two different similar messagesWikipedia defines a Public Service announcement as "messages in the public interest disseminated by the media without charge, with the objective of raising awareness, changing public attitudes and behavior towards a social issue. " I believe that regardless of the time gap that these messages portray a good general message, but in different ways. Obvious differences would be the quality of the picture. As I said earlier, technology is far more advances than it was in the 1970's. The model and year of the vehicles in Keeping America Beautiful are significantly older than in the more modern Canadian ad. The Canadian ad portrays the future showing that if Americans keep acting like global warming does not exist, than we will be living in constant disastrous conditions. It also shows the people in the ad going on with there everyday lives in these horrible conditions as to show them still not acknowledging the issues. Keeping America Beautiful presents more of a present time frame. Iron Eyes Cody begins by rowing his canoe in, what looks like, a beautiful body of water only to have him end up in a nasty polluted industrial part of the water. It then shows Iron Eyes pull up to shore and start walking along the highway. He is looking around and it appears he is showing disgust in his face, right before a bag of trash is thrown at him from a passing car. It ends with a simple tear rolling down his face to express his disappointment in what America has come. Again, although one shows the future and one shows the present, both present a similar message that the environment must be acknowledged. The similarities and differences in these two ads were interesting to analyze, but I feel the main goal of PSA are still exactly the same as they were in 1971.Public Service Announcements is a term that most Americans understand and forty-five years ago it was no different. Besides technology and the quality of the how the actual PSA looks, PSA's still are addressing issues that are going on in this time era. As this paper shows, PSAs can address a broad subject such as global warming or it can get more specific with a subtopic like littering and pollution. In the end, Public Service Announcements are produced to catch the viewer's attention on a certain topic. There are many different ways to get a similar message across and these two ads are evidence of that.Works Cited"Public Service Announcement." Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 22 July 2004. Web. 27 June 2013.


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