Most commercials have less than a minute to hook audiences’ attention and deliver their message. The most effective ones are the ones that can lead audiences to laugh and think about their messages at the same time. One example of this is the Zazoo commercial, which uses a combination of rhetorical strategies—particularly logos and pathos—to market its flagship condom product.
The Commercial: Target Market and Message The forty-second commercial tells the story of a man and a boy shopping in a local supermarket. The boy picks up a bag of dessert snacks and places it in the shopping cart, only to have the adult return it to the shelf. The child defiantly insists on having the snacks while the man continuously refuses. Frustrated, the boy throws a tantrum in the supermarket, throwing groceries around, catching the attention other shoppers and generally making the situation more difficult for his adult companion. The man sighs resignedly in defeat as the tagline appears: “Use Condoms.” The commercial ends with the Zazoo Condoms logo appearing on the screen (Zazoo, “Funniest Commercial Ever”). The commercial is geared toward more mature viewers given the sexual nature of the product and the tagline. Adults are prime targets for commercials of this type. It also appears to communicate with at least three other sub-groups within its target audience of mature viewers: thinking audiences that can appreciate the irony of the tagline, people that became parents due to unwanted pregnancies and people that are considering sexual activity. The last sub-group is particularly relevant based on what the commercial is implying. Part of this commercial’s appeal lies in the message behind its message—a message that is suggested or hinted at compared to its overt tagline. While the tagline urges audiences to use condoms, the real message of the commercial answers the question “Why?” The child’s antics in the film prior to the tagline’s appearance provide the explanation: if people wish to avoid the embarrassment and frustration of dealing with children’s tantrums, they should use Zazoo Condoms.
Aristotelian Rhetorical Appeals The advertisement builds up to this implied