PHI 2103 Fallacies in Advertising Discussion & Responses

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PHI 2103 Fallacies in Advertising Discussion & Responses

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One of the many problems with fallacious reasoning is that it often seems reasonable. Politicians and advertisers can often take advantage of that to get us to agree with them when they are using (intentionally or otherwise) fallacious reasoning.

Image of old advertisement for cigarettes

Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Consider the old piece of advertising above. When this ad was used, doctors were among the most highly-respected professionals in a community. Their opinions were often held as being more important or better than those of other people, even in subjects for which they were not experts. This is an example of an argument from authority fallacy, suggesting that because doctors are respected professionals, their opinion on cigarette brands should be respected as well.

Initial Post:
  1. Find an example of a logical fallacy in an advertisement. Print ads or video ads can be used, and either the ad itself or a link to a video ad should be included in your discussion.
  2. What fallacy (or fallacies) is being used in the advertisement? Explain specifically how the fallacy is being used and what effect this might have on a viewer.
  3. How could the advertiser make the same argument without using fallacious reasoning?
  4. Is this advertising technique dishonest?
Reply posts:

Select two of your peers’ posts. Discuss the fallacy or fallacies you see in their advertisement of choice. Are there other fallacies present here? Do you think the ad itself is more or less effective because of the fallacy or fallacies it contains? Would most people be able to see that the argument being made in the ad is fallacious?

Argument from Authority and appeal to emotion would be the fallacies I would choose for this picture. The advertiser used Marilyn Monroe to represent this product because she was the most famous actress and one of the most beautiful women in America. Using her and saying she uses this product would make other women who want to be like her use this shampoo. They also used an appeal to emotion by writing on the ad “starring in “Gentlemen prefer blondes” this will entice women to want to use this product and think men are more interested in women who are blonde and might use this product.

Instead of using Marilyn Monroe or another actress to advertise their product, the company could have used facts about the product and its benefits. The advertising technique is borderline dishonest. Marilyn Monroe may use this product and enjoy using it, but it isn’t very ethical of them to say gentlemen prefer blondes. Some men may “prefer” blondes but not all, and men should not be generalized as preferring one type of hair color to another.

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