#3: Ad Analysis

Important Dates

  • Rough Draft: Friday, November 1
  • Due Date: Wednesday, November 13
  • Deadline: Wednesday, November 20

The Assignment

All texts employ the basic tenets of the rhetorical situation and appeals, yet careful analysis is required to understand how these principles are applied in different genres. For this assignment, you will pick a recent, national commercial and analyze the use of rhetoric present in the ad.

This paper will allow you to use rhetorical principles discussed in class such as the rhetorical situation, genre, audience appeal, and the rhetorical appeals of ethos, pathos, and logos. You will critically engage these aspects in an informative and persuasive paper.

Assignment Specifics

Analyze a commercial that is available on the web. Consider how rhetoric is used to market the product or service to a particular audience and why this particular genre is the most effective choice. The rhetorical analysis should be well supported with textual evidence.

To gather ideas for your paper, you will complete the seven steps outlined in Writing at Virginia Tech (pp. 150-154). For additional information on the rhetorical appeals of ethos, logos, and pathos, check page 20-22 of Writing at Virginia Tech and the Persuasive Techniques document and the Close Reading of Ads document in the class resources on Scholar.

A successful paper

  • Includes a complete and detailed description of the commercial.
  • Fully identifies the rhetorical appeals used in the commercial and accurately explains how they are used by the advertisers to persuade the viewer to buy the product or service.
  • Explains the symbolic or metaphorical meaning of elements in the commercial and is able to support this interpretation with evidence from the commercial.
  • Has a strong hook or attention grabber in the introductory paragraph that is appropriate for the audience.
  • Includes a thesis statement that names the topic of the essay and outlines the main points to be discussed.
  • Provides arguments and support in a logical order that makes it easy and interesting to follow the author's train of thought.
  • Uses a variety of thoughtful transitions that clearly show how ideas are connected.
  • Employs a conclusion that draws the main points to a definite close and leaves an impact or vivid impression on the reader. The reader is left with something to think about.
  • Uses sentences that are well-constructed with varied structure. Each sentence is clear and has an obvious purpose.
  • Has no errors in grammar, capitalization, punctuation or spelling.

For additional information on the expectations, check the assignment rubric (linked below).

Your Draft Letter

In the space below, please write an informal letter to me that explains your thoughts on your paper. I will read your letter before I read your Ad Analysis. This letter is your chance to tell me anything you think I should know before I respond to your writing. You can tell me about things like what you want me to notice or what you want to improve on. You may include answers to some of the following questions: 
  • What is your favorite part of this particular piece, and why?
  • Are there any weaknesses you see in this piece? Tell me about them.
  • What techniques have you tried that differed from your regular process?
  • What did you find difficult about this piece, and why?
  • What really worked in this piece? Why did it seem to work well?
  • What’s one thing you would like to do to improve the piece, if only you knew how to do it?
You do NOT have to answer each and every question. They are just here to help you decide what you want to tell me.


This assignment is based on Kaitlin Clinnin’s “Viral Ad Rhetorical Analysis,” on page 149 of Writing at Virginia Tech.

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