Introduction: As we have seen in the Natural Sciences section – science can help us understand health, nutrition, and wellness more deeply. According to Michael Pollan in his article "Unhappy Meals" capitalism seeks to turn health issues that have largely been caused by large-scale industrial production of food-like products into potential ways to generate large sums of money. In a "When science meets mindfulness" by Alvin Powell and "With mindfulness, life’s in the moment" by Liz Mineo we have explored how there are practices that provide concrete and tangible benefits to engaging in a mind/body practice. Finally, there are important considerations when examining medical research and how it can help determine healthcare services when it comes to technology as we have seen in writings by Ross & Geggel. With all of this in mind it’s important to consider how advertising and packaging of health-based consumer products & services seduce us with more than the objects that they are selling.
In this essay, you will choose an advertisement for a product that relates to medicine, health, nutrition, mindfulness, or exercise to analyze as a piece of persuasion, as something that is designed carefully to entice us to buy, and analyze how the ad produces meaning. To use terms from Introduction to Media Literacy, this means interpreting the “text” to arrive at the “subtext.”
To use a multi-stage process to focus, organize, clarify, and develop an essay. To recognize that texts can take a variety of modes (alphabetic, visual, multimedia, print, and digital) and to practice analyzing the visual elements of a text. To create connections between texts by using course readings as a “lens” to examine a new text. To make choices in your writing in relation to audience, purpose, and context. To analyze a text using the rhetorical concepts of audience, purpose, and context. To choose material from sources to support your claims based on your audience and purpose. To introduce material from other sources (direct quotations and/or paraphrased ideas) into your own writing using effective signal phrases. To follow the code of academic integrity by appropriately documenting sources through the use of informal citation and a works cited page. Full Description of the Essay
You will choose an advertisement for a product that relates to medicine, health, nutrition, mindfulness, exercise to analyze as a piece of persuasion. All of these “texts” sell us not just a person or product, but an idea. In order to analyze the text you will need to:
Consider the rhetorical situation: the creator of the text, the creator’s purpose, the target audience, and the surrounding context. You will need to use these terms (author, audience, purpose, and context) as part of your analysis. Consider the design of the text. As Thomas Hine points out, every tiny detail of a package has had much thought put into it, and this careful planning goes into advertising as well. Among the many elements of a design, you can consider: colors fonts for text images (of people, places, things) symbols (recognizable people or objects that have a bigger meaning, like the American flag or Marilyn Monroe) layout (where images and text are placed on the page or box) Consider specific persuasion techniques used (listed in Introduction to Media Literacy), such as the use of beautiful people, humor, “plain folks,” repetition, etc., and/or rhetorical appeals. Thesis
Ultimately, your essay will need to offer a major claim, also known as a thesis, about the purpose and message of the text you are analyzing. We will work on this together, but the basic rhythm of it will be:
With their ad/package for [product/person], [company/author] attempts to [purpose] by [techniques used]. [Company/author] is sending the message that [basically, the subtext].
So, for example:
In the “My Butt Is Big” advertisement for Nike Women athletic gear, Nike courts female consumers by using a curvier model and offering an alternative vision of a “fit” and “beautiful” body, one with which the majority of women can better identify. In other words, Nike is sending the message that all bodies can be beautiful and attracting consumers by working against the traditional images of female beauty represented by the unattainably thin models found in most advertisements.
With this in mind, the essay as a whole, needs to be structured to help the reader understand how a text creates meaning and why this matters. We will work on sections of the essay together in class, but paragraphs need to be organized to perform distinct purposes/tasks. These include:
Introducing the specific ad/package and introducing the overall concept of media influence. Describing the text (ad/package) fully. Analyzing the ad/package. Discussing the significance of the ad/package in a larger context. Guidelines:
Header in upper, left-hand corner with your name, the course, instructor’s name, the assignment, and the date. Original title, centered on page, before essay begins. Double-spaced, 12 pt. Times New Roman font, 1” margins all around. 3-5 pages in length. Signal phrases to attribute quotations and/or ideas to others (we call this informal citation). Cite at least two of the course readings from the Natural Science section to help develop and to support your ideas. An MLA style works cited page that begins on a new page (this does not count toward the page count). Bibliographic citations for the readings are above; guidelines for creating a works cited page can be found on Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab (also known as Purdue OWL).