10 Examples Of Ethos, Pathos, And Logos In Advertising

Ethos, pathos, and logos are commonly cited as being strong methods to increase the effectiveness of an advertising campaign. But what exactly are ethos, pathos, and logos, and how can you use them in advertising?

Today, I will explain what these three terms mean and show you real examples of how advertisers have used them in successful ad campaigns.

What Is Ethos, Pathos, and Logos?

Photo by Pixabay/Pexels

Before I show you examples of how ethos, pathos, and logos are used in advertising, it’s important to understand what these three terms mean.

What Is Ethos?

Photo by Rene Asmussen/Pexels

Ethos is a Greek work that translates to moral character (or just character). In writing, it refers to a method of persuasion in which you appeal to the reader’s moral character and ethics to boost yourself as an authority and demonstrate your trustworthiness.

In addition to writing, ethos is critical for public speaking when you want to persuade the audience. Public speakers are well aware of the power of appealing to the listeners’ sense of ethics to build trust.

The origin of ethos comes from Aristotle in his work, Rhetoric. There, he details the three main components of ethos: arete, phronesis, and eunoia.

Arete refers to demonstrating the morality of your argument. Since ethos relies on appealing to the morality of your readers, you need to prove that your argument is moral – your readers or listeners might not come to that conclusion by themselves.

Phronesis refers to your general intelligence, wisdom, and breadth of knowledge, which you must demonstrate to establish yourself as an authority so that people listen to you when you prove the morality of your argument. Finally, eunoia refers to establishing goodwill and building a rapport with the audience.

Also Read: Unethical Advertising Examples

What Is Pathos?

Pathos, unlike ethos, does not appeal to the sense of morality of the reader or listener. Rather, it appeals to their emotions – you might try to evoke feelings of pity or sympathy, for example.

It is another powerful form of persuasion that writers and public speakers use frequently. Emotions are often the driving factor for the decisions that people make, including purchasing decisions.

In addition, they are frequently the driving force behind people’s opinions about issues, whether they are political issues or any other opinion. If you can persuade someone to feel a certain way about a politician, for example, they may vote for or against them.

Aristotle also talks about pathos in Rhetoric.

Other philosophers, however, argued that pathos could be misused to persuade people to do things that are not moral or logical based on their emotions. Some argue that you should rely more on ethos and logos (logical reasoning) as opposed to pathos, which should be used more sparingly.

Nevertheless, as a form of persuasion in advertising and elsewhere, pathos remains one of the most powerful tools at your disposal.

Whether you’re trying to get someone to buy something, appeal to the jury, influence the masses of voters, or persuade a friend to help you, you often need pathos to convince them.

Despite it being so powerful, it should never be your main form of persuasion. Many people are able to see past their emotions, and if your argument has no moral basis or makes no sense whatsoever (it is lacking in ethos and logos), many will rise above their emotions and dismiss your argument.

Check Out: Bad Advertising Examples

What Are Logos?

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko/Pexels

Finally, there is logos: the third component of any major argument or persuasion. It refers to proving your argument using logic.

You might use facts, statistics, data, and evidence to prove your point. Alternatively, you may use deductive reasoning to show why your audience should believe you or demonstrate using scientific experiments.

While you need logos, it shouldn’t be your only method of persuasion. A bit of emotional appeal is usually necessary as well, especially in advertising; in addition, you want people to feel like they are making the right ethical choice.

Explore: Adbeat Review

How Ethos, Pathos, and Logos Are Used in Advertising

Photo by Jose Francisco Fernandez Saura/Pexels

Advertising is all about persuasion. The purpose of an ad is to persuade the viewer to take a specific action, whether that is to sign up for an email list, purchase a product, click the like button, or anything else.

Aristotle’s three main components of persuasion have withstood the test of time and are essential for advertising. If you want to be successful in advertising and get a good ROI, you need to know how to apply ethos, pathos, and logos correctly.

Ethos

Building trust and authority is an essential part of advertising. If you want people to listen to you and follow through on your CTAs, you need to establish yourself as someone with moral character who is worth listening to.

Often, that involves establishing your brand as ethical and moral. There is a reason top companies invest so much in improving brand reputation.

They might donate to charity campaigns or put out a statement reaffirming their stance on social issues.

The goal of ethos in advertising is to establish yourself as someone credible and trustworthy. Using the right language in your advertisements or labels can help you build this kind of trust.

Pathos

Pathos is one of the most important aspects of advertising. Of course, you need people to respect your company and look up to your brand as one they can trust.

However, you must also appeal to their emotions. It is often said that pain and pleasure are two of the most influential factors driving purchasing decisions.

Pain and pleasure are all about emotions. People are afraid of pain and want to avoid it; they love pleasure and want to experience it.

Pathos can involve evoking both negative and positive emotions.

Negative emotions are often more powerful motivators than positive emotions, but it’s critical to appeal to both, as you don’t want your audience to get stuck in their negative emotions. You want to give them hope and a solution to their problems.

Logos

Photo by Lukas/Pexels

Logos is about appealing to your audience with facts and logic. In advertising, you can make use of statistics that show the percentage of people satisfied with your products or other stats that demonstrate the effectiveness of your product and why it is worth buying.

A politician might use facts to show why their opponent is the wrong choice for the position based on their track record.

A company might use facts from studies to show how their product improves quality of life or otherwise helps their customers or release a video depicting how their product works in the real world.

Examples of Ethos, Pathos, and Logos in Advertising

In this section, we will show examples of how companies used ethos, pathos, and logos in real advertisements.

The truth is that ethos, pathos, and/or logos show up in just about every successful advertisement there is out there. As I said above, advertising is all about persuasion, and these three elements make up the rhetoric triangle – they are essential for convincing someone to do something.

Thus, there are many more examples of ethos, pathos, and logos in ads. We’re just giving you these 10 to start off with.

Once you know what ethos, pathos, and logos are and how they are used in advertising, you will get better at spotting them. Whenever you see an ad, you will be able to see how the company is using one of these three elements to convince you to do something or to make you feel a certain way.

1. Laughing Man Coffee – Believe in a Better Way

This ad, by Laughing Man Coffee, starts with the following statement: “I didn’t set out to create a coffee company; I saw an opportunity to make a difference in the world with exceptional coffee that puts a portion of your purchase right back to the communities.”

This is a great example of ethos – the video starts out by establishing that the Laughing Man Coffee brand is an ethical brand that isn’t just focused on profits but cares about making a difference in the world.

The video takes the viewer to Colombia, showing the communities that the brand helps.

Essentially, it is telling the audience that by buying Laughing Man Coffee, you will help these communities as well, as part of the profit will go to them.

This gives the viewer a moral basis for buying Laughing Man Coffee over another coffee brand.

In this video, pathos is in place as well. It depicts children from disadvantaged communities to evoke feelings of sympathy; it’s designed to make the viewer want to help these communities by buying the brand’s coffee products.

It depicts the founder of Laughing Man Coffee interacting with smiling children himself, giving you the feeling that if you buy Laughing Man Coffee products, you will help make those kids happy.

Check Out: Bad CSR Examples

2. Calvin Klein With Justin Bieber and Lara Stone

This 30-second Calvin Klein ad features two famous celebrities: Justin Bieber and Lara Stone. A big part of ethos is establishing yourself as an authority and a brand to be trusted and respected.

People love, respect, and admire celebrities. Having a celebrity in your ad will support any statement you make in the ad.

Even if you don’t make any statement, it reaffirms the quality of your products and boosts the reputation and authority of your brand. There’s a reason the biggest brands pay top dollar to feature celebrities in their ads, such as in this Calvin Klein video.

Check Out: Famous Brand Names You Pronounce Incorrectly

3. Obama – The Choice

In The Choice, former president Obama makes the case for why he should be reelected over his opponent, Mitt Romney. In the ad, he talks about ethical values such as strengthening the middle class and investing in education.

The very name of the ad demonstrates how it appeals to people’s ethics. “The Choice” implies that voters have to make a choice between a more ethical candidate – the one that will be better for the nation – and a less ethical one.

Everyone wants to make good choices in life – nobody wants to choose poorly. The ad also uses the wording “The President’s Plan,” which is another example of ethos.

A big part of establishing the moral validity of an argument is to prove the authority of the person making that argument. If that person is the president, surely his plan or viewpoint must be valid.

4. West Side Mitsubishi – First Ride Home

This 2014 ad from West Side Mitsubishi aims to establish the Mitsubishi as a safe car for people to ride. To that end, it talks about the first ride home two new parents take with their baby on the way back from the hospital in a Mitsubishi.

The video is an example of pathos, because most of the video doesn’t actually talk about the various safety features the manufacturers have added to the vehicle to make it safe (that would be an example of logos).

Instead, it focuses on emotions, talking about the journey the new parents had to take to become parents.

It details their years-long struggle to become parents and how excited they are to finally be mom and dad to a newborn baby. It talks about their apprehension that their baby might suffer brain damage due to a sickness and their joy and happiness once the baby is finally born safely.

The entire ad is designed to appeal to your emotions, so you sympathize with the relief the parents have at finally giving birth to a baby and realizing their dreams.

It puts you in their shoes and makes you want to protect the baby at all costs – and that starts with choosing a safe vehicle to drive home once the mom is released from the hospital.

That vehicle is, of course, a Mitsubishi. While the video does not talk about why it is a safe choice, you will definitely feel that it is a safe voice after watching this video.

5. P&G – Strong (Thank You, Mom)

For the 2016 Rio Olympics, Procter and Gamble released a video called “Strong” for their “Thank You, Mom” campaign. The video depicts various scenes of mothers protecting their children and reassuring them in scary situations.

After each scene, the video fast-forwards to an athlete about to compete in the Olympics.

The goal of the video is to show the importance of having a mother and how mothers strengthen their children and give them courage for life. The athletes, although grown up, draw upon their mother’s encouragement and protection as they prepare to compete in this once-in-a-lifetime event.

The ad is a great example of pathos, as it appeals to people’s emotions. Most people have a soft spot for their mothers and appreciate all they have done for them.

The campaign is also a good example of ethos. It shows how Procter and Gamble want to help mothers get the appreciation and recognition they deserve for their hard work – surely an ethical goal.

6. Hillary Clinton – 3 AM Phone Call (2008)

In 2008, Hillary Clinton ran an ad to support her campaign for president. It started with a voice-over talking in an ominous tone while depicting a child sleeping in their bed:

“It’s 3 AM, and your children are safe and asleep. But there’s a phone in the White House, and it’s ringing. Something is happening in the world. Your vote will decide who answers that call – whether it’s someone… tested and ready to lead in a dangerous world. It’s 3 AM, and your children are safe and asleep. Who do you want answering the phone?”

This campaign ad uses fear as a motivator – a good example of pathos. It appeals to people’s emotions and love for their children, their fear of something bad happening to them, and their desire to protect them.

At the end of the message, it repeats the phrase, “It’s 3 AM, and your children are safe and asleep,” for added effect.

Politicians often use pathos in their campaign ads. While ethos and logos are also critical, pathos is often what drives votes.

7. Lyndon Johnson – Daisy (1964)

Lyndon Johnson’s “Daisy” ad is one of the most infamous ones in American political history. It features a girl standing in a meadow, picking off the petals of a daisy flower, counting from one to 10 incorrectly.

As the viewer watches, the video zooms into the child’s eye, while a voice counts down from 10 to one. When it reaches one, the screen depicts a mushroom cloud explosion, signaling nuclear war.

Johnson’s voice says in a voice-over, “These are the stakes! To make a world in which all of God’s children can live, or to go into the dark. We must either love each other, or we must die.”

The ad was meant to depict Johnson’s opponent, Barry Goldwater, as being a warmonger who would lead the nation to destruction. It uses pathos to evoke fear and a desire to protect one’s children, implying Johnson is the safer choice.

According to CNN, while the ad only aired once, it changed political advertising forever, as nobody has ever run such an attack ad before. There is a reason the ad lives in infamy, but it was also one of the most significant factors that led to Johnson achieving his victory in the election.

That just shows the effectiveness of pathos, especially those appealing to negative emotions, in driving decisions.

8. Cheerios – Gracie

This ad for Cheerios, a cereal brand owned by General Mills, features a child asking her mother if what her dad said – that Cheerios is good for your heart – is true. Her mother responds by saying that Cheerios has wholegrain oats, which are good for cholesterol, and is thus healthy.

This ad uses pathos – everyone loves their children and wants them to be healthy. The cuteness of the child is one of the most striking things about this video and one of the things you’re most likely to remember.

However, this video also uses ethos, as it features an interracial couple with a mixed child. Despite the racism the company faced due to the ad, it refused to back down and continued airing it, establishing itself as a campaigner for racial inclusiveness.

9. Flex Seal – Flex TAPE

In 2017, Flex Seal ran an ad for Flex TAPE that became so famous it turned into a meme. It features Phil Swift, co-owner of Flex Seal, touting the benefits of Flex TAPE.

The ad uses logos, as it clearly depicts real examples of Flex TAPE stopping even strong bursts of water. It even shows Flex TAPE working underwater and withstanding the weight of a strong weight plate.

The video also goes on to show Flex TAPE being used to repair a vehicle and holding up in heavy rain.

The scene depicting Phil Swift slapping a piece of tape to stop a leak became a meme, which you may have seen somewhere on the internet.

10. Verizon – There’s a Map for That

In this old ad, Verizon touts the benefits of joining Verizon by displaying a map showing its nationwide 3D coverage. It depicts that map side by side with a map showing AT&T’s 3D coverage – AT&T being its closest competitor.

The ad features two people right next to each other, one using Verizon and one using AT&T, showing how one person enjoyed fast connectivity while the other didn’t.

This video ad is a great demonstration of logos – ads can use maps, charts, and other graphical representations of data to make a logical point as to why the product or service is worth buying or subscribing to.

Other Examples of Ethos, Pathos, and Logos in Advertising

Ethos, pathos, and logos are present in advertising and packaging wherever you go.

For example, a makeup or shampoo product that has a label claiming it does not do any animal testing is a great example of ethos. The company is trying to say that buying the product is a more ethical choice over buying other products.

Similarly, a cream that says, “#1 Dermatologist Recommended” is also an example of ethos, as it uses authority to establish itself as the right choice.

A soap bottle that says something along the lines of “Guaranteed to Kill 99% of Germs According to Studies” is an example of logos.

Wrapping It Up

If you’re an advertiser, it’s important to understand how to use ethos, pathos, and logos correctly to make a statement, influence public opinion, and drive purchasing decisions.

The best advertising campaigns use a combination of all three aspects of the rhetorical triangle to increase conversions.

About Author

Tom loves to write on technology, e-commerce & internet marketing. I started my first e-commerce company in college, designing and selling t-shirts for my campus bar crawl using print-on-demand. Having successfully established multiple 6 & 7-figure e-commerce businesses (in women’s fashion and hiking gear), I think I can share a tip or 2 to help you succeed.