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Advertisement Analysis Using the Toulmin Method sample essay

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The message to be analyzed with the Toulmin method is an advertisement from the USA Today newspaper, the MasterCard ad. The advertisement is targeted primarily at adults, business people, married couples, and students. Black background and white sparse text entail high contrast of the over-all ad.

As any commercial, this one’s primary claim is to convince the reader to purchase the advertised product. In other words the main message of the ad is “You should buy a MasterCard”, and the slogan of the company only confirms this claim engaging an effective qualifier, “There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else there’s MasterCard.” However, the support of the claim is not quite relevant:

New wallpaper for the bathroom: $225

New wallpaper for the bathroom: $225

New wallpaper for the bathroom: $225

Hanging it right the fourth time: priceless

The author of the advertisement fails to draw the line between objects and occasions that are priceless by their nature (like friendship or using washroom at your apartment) and objects that cost more than the amount of cash one has. Although circuitously, second type of products is mentioned in the slogan. Contrarily, the preceding lines point directly to the first type of products. And this is exactly the place where the support contradicts the claim, this way diminishing credibility.

However, the four-line text may be somehow interpreted as a warrant provider, or the evidence, and that is acceptable. The author of the ad uses a particular example, which is very typical for warrant providers. However, let us parse this part carefully to see whether the author succeeded in his or her efforts using the Toulmin method .

Does the author make use of enough evidence to persuade the reader? No, because the evidence support obviously contradicts with the main claim. In other words, the warrant support is not sufficient. Does the evidence match with the reader’s experience? Not really. The probability for a normal person to fail to hang wallpaper three times in a row is very little. In a real situation one would rather drop after second attempt, or call a professional paperhanger. Therefore, the credibility of evidence support is also poor. Finally, according to the Toulmin method, we should ask if the evidence support “tells the truth”, whether the facts are verifiable from other sources? Not at all! Of course, everyone understands that it is a simple advertisement, but nevertheless, it should provide real, convincing and, most important, true evidence to foster credibility. This one failed, even though there actually is no price for hanging wallpaper for the fourth time. To put it differently, this little advertisement failed to keep its evidence support accurate.

Even though at first glance the ad may seem effective, when parsed critically, its disadvantages and discrepancies are revealed. No credibility, no accuracy, no sufficiency.

Bibliography

1. USA Today newspaper; Tuesday, June 17, 2003; p-6; top right-hand corner; MasterCard
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