Rhetoric Artifact Outline

If you look at my RCL post from last week, you’ll see the artifact I’ve chosen. It’s an advertisement, advising citizens to be careful on the road and watch out for children. The image is taken from the backseat of the car. A man is in the driver’s seat, talking on his cell phone, and a woman is in the passenger seat, holding a map. Neither of them are watching the road. Through the windshield you see a young boy just in front of the car, raising a hand and screaming. His eyes are blocked by the rear-view mirror, which is reflecting the eyes of an even smaller child sitting in the backseat.

I plan on talking about three things:

1. Time: In the caption, it says more children are involved in car accidents during school holidays, so if a holiday was coming up, it would be especially relevant.

2. The man using his cell phone. Most people can relate to this because they own a cell phone, and there’s been a lot of evidence which suggest it’s dangerous to be on them while you’re driving. So with that prior knowledge, the advertisers don’t have to prove to to their audience that what’s going in the car is dangerous. At the same time they’re offering an image of something the target audience probably does everyday: talking on their cell phone. This makes it seem more relevant to them.

3. I want to consider the audience itself and how pathos plays a part in the ad’s rhetoric. Everyone has a family, and pretty much everyone has a young child which they worry about getting hurt. So it’s easy for the viewer to imagine the fear invoked by the idea that it could be their young loved one about to get run over by the car, or their young loved one in the backseat during the accident. The fact that the child’s eyes reflected in the mirror are strategically placed over the eyes of the child in front of the car compound this effect.


  1. The advertisement definitely seems to present a point that is largely reliant on pathos. However, on the second point, I noticed that neither the man nor the woman are paying attention to what is in front of them. Perhaps the advertisement is also trying to make a point about awareness being the responsibility of everyone in the vehicle?

  2. Good identification of pathos. You should mention kairos. I just read in the news today that car accidents in the US have increased for the first time in 5 years. The article stated that the reason for accidents was human error, not technical failures. The ad is relevant because it emphasizes the responsibility of the driver and passengers.

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