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Monthly Archives: March 2009

Philosophy and the Honda Civic Si

For my technical writing class at community college — the only English class I didn’t take as an undergrad English major — one of our assignments this week was to analyze the persuasive argument of TV or radio advertisement using Aristotle’s Modes of Persuasion. You know, ethos, logos, pathos…the three musketeers of being convincing.

So thanks to watching the “Daily Show” online, I had several chances to watch this commercial from Honda about their new Civic Si.

I analyzed it for class and was somewhat pleased with my response, so I thought I’d share it here:

The folks at Honda used some pretty subtle elements of Aristotle’s Modes of Persuasion in their commercial for the new Civic.You see the people in the commercial doing the measurements for their rumble lines, giving them credibility at the end when they triumphantly exclaim that the project worked. The ethos here isn’t of the in-your-face variety, but you get the understanding that they know what they’re talking about because they are invested in the project.

By the end of the commercial we know the Civic gets 36 miles to the gallon on the highway, making it logically a good car for the economically conscious driver. But it also appeals to the audience’s logos by presenting the car in a whimsical manner. The commercial seems to say that although this is a serious car, it can still have fun.

That also lends itself to the audience’s pathos.

It hints at the fact that this is an affordable luxury. The people depicted driving the car are either college aged or in their mid 20s to early 30s, yet the Civic features a built-in GPS and has a sunroof. It appeals to the practical minded driver as well since it seats four adults comfortably.

It is an effective commercial, even if it takes several viewings to actually understand what’s going on. In a matter of seconds Honda attracts the viewer’s attention by presenting a different kind of car commercial. This isn’t your fast-paced drive through the city, but rather a leisurely jaunt with friends. It shows an understanding on the part of the car company, that not all drivers are created equal. The car still gets you where you need to go, but sometimes it’s more about the journey than the destination.