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Pathos in Advertising

One of the first things you learn in any speech class is the importance of pathos. Pathos is one of the main three rhetorical strategies in persuasive speaking, along with ethos and logos. Each device represents a necessary part of persuasive speaking: credibility (ethos), reason (logos) and emotion (pathos). Of the three, pathos is the most powerful. It can be seen in Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, in the romantic declarations of every chick-flick, and, oddly enough, in Beats by Dre’s commercial/short film, “The Game before the Game.”

It begins with soccer player Neymar da Silva Santos Jr. receiving an inspirational phone call from his father before a match, then goes on to show other prominent professionals preparing for their matches—walking into the locker room, warming up, repeating pre-game superstitions, taping up injuries – and of course, they’re doing this while listening to music with their Beats headphones.

Next, we see brief flashes of fans from across the world partaking in their own pre-game superstitions, like a Dutch man putting on orange wooden shoes, a woman painting her face in team colors, a group of guys having drinks at the pub, etc.

This strategy is brilliant. Instead of beating you over the head with their product, Beats fits its products seamlessly and organically into the background of these powerful and emotional scenes. There are few things that get people from around the world emotionally involved as much as soccer does—even if you have no interest in soccer, you can’t watch this without getting goosebumps. Pure pathos.

Instead of trying to justify why you should buy their headphones, Beats by Dre immerses you into this powerful community, showing how vital its products are to your favorite athlete’s lifestyles.

Of course, other rhetorical devices can be useful when advertising your product or service too. But if you want to get customers to love your brand, rather than just like it or need it, consider pathos.

Reach out to us if you’d like to get some campaign ideas rolling. We love this stuff!