Rhetorical Analysis of 2012 Toyota Camry Advertisement

 

I analyzed an advertisement for the 2012 Toyota Camry that aired during last year’s Super Bowl. I think the ad would fall under two genres: “car ads” and “Super Bowl ads”. “Car ads” are shown frequently during primetime TV especially during male-oriented programming (research shows that men are more likely to purchase more expensive products on behalf of their family than women). (Baumeister) Traditionally, they show cars zooming down curvy mountainous roads or in some other kind of adventurous locale that highlights key features of the car. However, they have more recently come to include humor, music, and even beautiful models. Secondly, I would classify the ad under the umbrella of “Super Bowl ads”, which range widely in topic but are known for their humor. The Super Bowl has a reputation for having the best commercials of the year with the largest budgets; they are often the topic of conversation the next day at water coolers across the country. This commercial uses the humor predominate throughout “Super Bowl ads” and applies it to the genre of “car ads” that we view almost every time we turn on our TVs.

The audience is primarily male football fans, but some women tune in as well (sometimes just for the ads). The speaker talks as a voice of authority and on behalf of Toyota. He uses the term “we” throughout the commercial perhaps to portray the sense of a unified company working hard to satisfy the needs of their customers. By the end of the commercial you are left with a feeling that Toyota would move mountains for their customers. The creators of the commercial arranged it so that the Camry is featured at the very beginning and the very end of the advertisement. The car is shown for 4 seconds at the beginning and 5 seconds at the end. I find the product only being shown for roughly 15% of the commercial rather unusual, especially for the “car ad” genre, which frequently showcases the car for the entire advertisement. However, studies show that viewers recall the first and last parts of a presentation most easily. This is called the serial positioning effect, and is a frequently used tactic used throughout sales and marketing. (McLeod) The ad also employs use of affective conditioning, which is pairing a product with things most people already like. Affective conditioning is an unconscious force proven to increase sales for products even if consumers know the product is inferior. (Markman)  A whole range of things from babies, ice cream, mini golf, an arcade, petting zoo, and pizza are shown; such a wide range of positive items appeal to almost any viewer. The commercial specifically talks about “reinventing” aversive items or negative characteristics of an item. Everyone likes babies, but not necessarily the fact that they require frequent diaper changes. Well, according to Toyota babies who don’t poop are now a possibility. Customers may feel that there are not many differences between the 2011 and 2012 models of the Camry, but Toyota convinces you otherwise as they have spent extensive amounts of time “reinventing” it. The hyperbole is so extensive that the audience realizes it as a form of sarcasm. Toyota may even be poking fun at advertisements and infomercials that promise you the world for only one easy payment of $19.95. Although such extensive hyperbole could threaten Toyota’s credibility, I think it safe to say that most viewers will not expect to be handed an ice cream cone the next time they visit the DMV. This commercial is a typical “Super Bowl ad” in the sense that it is entertaining and very funny, but is a less conventional, more innovative version of a  “car ad” which usually have a greater emphasis on particular features, affordability, and concrete details.

Works Cited

Baumeister, Roy F., and Brad L. Bushman. “The Self.” Social Psychology and Human    Nature. Brief ed. Vol. 2. Belmont: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, n.d. 62. Print.

Markman, Art. “Ulterior Motives.” Psychology Today, 31 Aug. 2010. Web. 18 Sept. 2012. <http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/ulterior-motives/201008/what-does-advertising-do>.

McLeod, Saul. “Serial Position Effect.” Serial Position Effect. SimplyPsychology, 2008. Web. 18 Sept. 2012. <http://www.simplypsychology.org/primacy-recency.html>.

“Toyota Camry 2012 – It’s Reinvented.” YouTube. Toyota, 27 Jan. 2012. Web. 18 Sept. 2012. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T8XmdQjJ7BM>.

Rhetorical Analysis of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo

A couple of weeks ago, I was introduced to a new television show called “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo”. The creators capitalize on Alanna (aka Honey Boo Boo) and her family’s outlandish “redneck” behavior much like a train wreck you can’t look away from. The family is uninhibited and unfiltered; they are blunt and oftentimes crude. The purpose of the show is definitely entertainment; although it sometimes seems as though you are watching a family who must live on a foreign planet and learning about their strange cultures and traditions. Because the show is a spinoff from “Toddlers and Tiaras”, the creators have attracted viewers who are fans of the show and fascinated by the phenomenon of child pageants. The audience is probably predominated by women, although the crude humor might draw in a few male viewers.

As someone who has lived in the south her entire life, I take pride in my culture. Although I find the show hilarious, it feeds the negative stereotypes associated with the “backwoods, redneck folk” often associated with the southern states in the U.S. For example, the entire family is overweight. Most noticeably would be the mother of Honey Boo Boo, June. Previous episodes featured commentary on her “neck crust” (crumbs, etc. that get stuck in the fat rolls on her neck) and this week’s episode showed her making lemonade with  five pounds of sugar and “sketti”, which is spaghetti and her “special sauce” made of ketchup and butter. It’s not exactly breaking news that the obesity epidemic is a major problem in our country today. Rates of obesity have risen over 20% in my home state, Texas, over the past two decades and the “fattest states” are primarily in the south. (Adult Obesity) The family is shown eating their “sketti” as they all sit in front of the TV. Watching TV while you eat is proven to decrease self-awareness, so you mindlessly consume more than is required to reach satiety. (Baumeister) One family member made a comment that they “never sit at the dinner table”. (Time for Sketti) This habitual behavior contributes to consistent overeating and ultimately the family’s weight problem. The family is aware of their unhealthy behaviors, but engages in humor as a method of coping. June jokes that “the town of McIntyre is going to have a diabetic attack” upon drinking the lemonade at Honey Boo Boo’s stand. (Time for Sketti)

The show’s creators aren’t necessarily trying to prove anything, but as they capture the oftentimes unintended comedy of Honey Boo Boo’s family I find that the viewers are laughing at, and not with, the family. The creators employ mainly implicit argumentation. By letting the family and their actions speak for themselves, the creators use editing and airing only the most ridiculous clips to portray the family, and ultimately Southern culture, in a negative light. The show is framed from a voyeuristic standpoint; the family seems completely unaware of the cameras and crew so it almost feels as though you are peeking in on this strange family. This viewpoint automatically makes people feel as though they are superior. We engage in self-comparison constantly, so much so that it is oftentimes unconscious. By choosing this family to film, almost any American viewer will feel superior and receive an automatic ego boost. (Baumeister) The producers frame the scenarios to highlight the family’s lack of education and social etiquette at their own expense. I doubt that the producers of the show are from the south as you can see their subtle stabs at southern culture through the portrayal of the family. They pan out and show the family’s small, white house that features Christmas lights year round, situated snuggly between a busy railroad track and a gas station, which the girls treat like the neighborhood playground by frequently stopping by for junk food. The show features subtitles for the majority of the characters’ dialogue, suggesting that they speak so poorly and with such thick accents that the common American would be unable to understand them otherwise.  Despite the shock value that I believe hooks many viewers, Alanna and her naive nature are a shining light in a family of gruesome rednecks; she captures your heart and drives you to tune into future episodes.

Works Cited

“Adult Obesity Facts.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 13 Aug. 2012. Web. 12 Sept. 2012. <http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html>.

“Time for Sketti.” Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. TLC. 12 Sept. 2012. Television.

Baumeister, Roy F., and Brad L. Bushman. “The Self.” Social Psychology and Human Nature. Brief ed. Vol. 2. Belmont: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, n.d. 57-96. Print.

Hello!

Psychology in media today is present unbeknownst to many consumers, viewers, and readers alike. Whether attempting to persuade a potential buyer to purchase a new product, sway a political view, or simply portray phenomena present in our society, advertising executives, writers, producers and other media professionals use psychology to advance their personal and professional goals. My goal with this blog is to discuss a wide range of psychological principles present in everyday media and inform readers of tactics and concepts they may have previously overlooked. Many current television shows and movies have provided a glimpse into psychology ranging from criminal investigations and the profiling of criminals to addiction and other psychological disorders, from anorexia to schizophrenia. I am excited to explore aspects of psychology I have learned about in textbooks and apply them to new areas that coincide more closely with popular culture and media. I plan on pursuing a graduate degree in clinical psychology, so I am particularly fascinated by all things “abnormal”. I enjoy doing things from diagnosing people in my life with mild personality disorders to watching the new show on TLC about conjoined twins, “Abby & Brittany”.  I hope to delve into topics ranging from the competitive nature our society has come to accept, exemplified in movies like “Mean Girls” and “The Joneses”, the TV psychologist phenomenon that consists of therapy sessions on live TV a la Dr. Phil and Dr. Drew, and even the psychological aspects behind current events like the recent shooting in Aurora, Colorado at the premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises”.