Argument in Public Service Announcements

Paper Two: Argument in Public Service Announcements

On Thursday, I will be posting a number of public service announcements and explaining how advertisers use the rhetorical appeals of ethos, pathos and logos, as well as visual and sound techniques, to make a powerful case to the audience. On Thursday, you will watch several Public Service announcements from the Australian Transport Commission (TAC Victoria) that deal with serious public service issues such as drinking and driving, not wearing seat belts, distractions while driving, and other issues that can lead to road fatalities. For this assignment, you will take a public service announcement (PSA) of your choice (not one of my examples) and evaluate how well the PSA proves it’s argument and what techniques it uses to do that.

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Before you begin, you need to understand the difference between a commercial and a PSA. Commercials are produced by companies selling products. They are designed to persuade people to purchase their products or use their services. If you see an ad trying to get you to buy a specific brand of beer, buy a specific model of car, or use a specific home security system that is a commercial. A public service announcement is put out by the federal or state government or an organization to provide information for the public welfare. Public Service Announcements are designed to persuade people not to drink and drive, text and drive, do drugs, smoke, pollute the environment, bully people, etc. They often provide lots of facts and information, or they can tell a story with actors or real people to make their argument. Commercials sell products or offer services. Public Service Announcements try to help the community by providing information or presenting a story to convince people to change their behavior or take action on a specific issue.

For this assignment, you are evaluating how the film makers present their argument. This is not personal paper where you talk about what you think about the issue. Your personal opinion on the actual issue should not be in the essay at all. You won’t refer to yourself in any way. You will be evaluating what techniques are being used by the people who made the PSA in order to reach and persuade the audience. This is an analysis of the techniques used. It is not a paper about your views on the issue the PSA discusses.

You should be able to find a PSA to evaluate on Youtube. Again, don’t use any of my example PSAs from Monday’s lecture. Make sure that it is a professional PSA that actually aired on television. There are many privately made or high school made ads with poor production values and bad acting. We are looking for professionally made public service announcements that were made and produced by professionals. Don’t pick the shortest PSAs possible in order to make the assignment easier for you. You want to have enough material in the ad to evaluate properly. Choosing an ad that is too short will backfire on you.

This is the organization of Paper Two: Argument in Public Service Announcements

Paragraph One: Introduction

Assume your reader has not seen the Public Service Announcement you are evaluating. In your introduction, first briefly explain for the reader what the difference is between an commercial and a public service announcement. Second, identify the PSA by title, who is presenting it, and when was it first released. Explain to the reader what the PSA is trying to prove or establish. Finally, explain your purpose in evaluating the PSA clearly without using I or referring to the paper. “This public service announcement successfully uses a series of techniques to convince the audience that young people should not text and drive”.

Paragraph Two: Explain what happens in the PSA.

In order for your reader (who has probably not seen the PSA) to understand what happens in the PSA clearly, you first need to explain briefly what happens during the PSA. This will help them understand your analysis later in the essay. You don’t need to go into details you will cover later, but give the reader a good sense of what happens scene by scene and and what people or characters are in the ad.

Paragraphs Three, Four and Five: Ethos Pathos and Logos

In the third, fourth and fifth body paragraphs of the essay, you will need to explain how the commercial makes its case to the viewer through rhetorical appeals (I will cover these on Monday). You will be evaluating ways that ethos, pathos and logos are used to appeal to the viewer in different and effective ways. Our lecture and discussion board of the TAC Victoria commercials on Monday will suggest the kind of things you will be looking for in your PSA.You want to give specific examples from the PSA to support and prove what you say. You will have one paragraph per technique. Don’t combine the three appeals into one paragraph. Again, don’t just claim the techniques are used, show examples to prove to the reader that these appeals are being used and talk about them.

Paragraphs Six and Seven: Visual and Sound Techniques

Once you have evaluated Ethos, Pathos, and Logos, you need a sixth body paragraph on Visual Techniques and a seventh body paragraph on Sound Techniques. Keep your analysis easy to follow. Use specific examples of camera movement, editing, set design or other elements that are visually effective in convincing the audience.

As for sound, discuss music or sound effects that are used to manipulate the emotions of the audience, communicate a message with the lyrics, or draw attention to certain things through lack of sound.

Paragraph Eight: Conclusion

Finally, you will write a conclusion paragraph that summarizes your evaluation of the PSA and your final thoughts on the effectiveness of the presentation as a whole. You can talk about the importance of the issue and why the commercial is successful (or not successful) but again, your opinion on the issue the PSA discusses is not needed here.

This essay will be roughly four pages in length and in MLA document format. Papers that go over that page limit will not have points taken off. Some PSAs are longer, more complicated and may need an extra page or two to evaluate properly. There will be no need for any sources outside of the PSA to be used in this essay. If you do any research at all, it should only be to find out who made the PSA and when it was released. Remember, the person who posted it on Youtube is very likely not connected to the PSA in any way. They are not the people who made the PSA. The organization or agency that made the ad will be named in the PSA itself. I sometimes get people who will say, “BigBoy234 made an amazing Public Service Announcement”. No, BigBoy 234 did not make the PSA. They just posted it to Youtube years later. Hopefully, a reputable organization made the PSA.

I would like you to provide me a link to where the commercial can be viewed on Youtube or another public website. It should go after the Conclusion where a Works Cited page would normally go. It is vital that I be able to watch the PSA myself before evaluating your analysis. Do not use a PSA that is not available for viewing somewhere on the internet. Remember, a documentary is not a PSA. I have had students want to do a 30 minute film, and that’s not what we are doing here.

First Draft is due to Turnitin by 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 13. You will peer edit two papers through Peer Mark by 11:59 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 17.

Final Draft is due to Turnitin by 11:59 p.m,. Saturday, Oct. 24.

Review of Basic Organization of Assignment Two

Paragraph One: Introduction

Explain what a Public Service Announcement is and what their general purpose is. Identify the ad “by name” that you are evaluating and the organization or company that made it. Explain what it is trying to prove and make reference to the techniques that will be evaluated.

Paragraph Two: Explain what happens in your Public Service Announcement

Your reader has ever seen the ad, so explain what happens in it so they have a clear idea of what it is about, what “characters” are in it, and what happens to them.

 

Paragraph Three: Evaluate how Ethos is used in the ad

How did the ad use Ethos to help persuade the viewer? Did they make any reference to the company or organization that made the ad? Do they have a celebrity endorser?

Paragraph Four: Evaluate how Pathos is used in the ad

How does the ad trigger emotions in the audience? How is that used to persuade the viewer?

Paragraph Five: Evaluate how Logos is used in the ad

Evaluate how logic and reason are used in the ad to persuade the viewer.

Paragraph Six: Evaluate how Visual Techniques are used in the ad

Evaluate how camera use and editing is used to communicate the message of the ad or intensify the emotional impact of the ad.

Paragraph Seven: Evaluate how Sound Techniques are used in the ad

Does the ad have music? What kind of mood does it establish? Is there no music? What does the viewer hear while listening? Are there sound effects? How are they used to communicate the message of the ad?

Paragraph Eight: Conclusion (Give your overall impression of how well the ad established and proved its argument)

The first Public Service Announcement is talking about the importance of lowering your speed and how much of a difference 10 kph can make.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SuY_VHzKdjc

The second ad does the exact same thing, but it uses a more graphic example to make its point.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Z23CzSONiU
Notice the Ethos provided in these two ads.

 

In this ad, ask yourself what kind of commercial do you think you are watching in the first few seconds? Why are you not expecting what comes next? Notice also how Pathos is used effectively.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=otR8V7rlnjA

This one may be harder for you to understand, but the reason is that it is portraying people in Australia who live in the country and have stronger accents. The idea behind it is that locals warn each other when a policeman is stationed somewhere waiting for drunk drivers to come by, so they warn friends ahead of time. People thinking they are being clever about drinking and driving and outsmarting the police backfires badly here.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FqvLcVBOhP4

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