Evaluation of Commercial: With Examples

Basically, you are now going to EVALUATE the commercial you analyzed before.

The ultimate question is: Why was it a good commercial?

Required Criteria
For the purposes of this class, I am asking you to evaluate your commercial using two criteria that I chose. Then you add your own criteria for evaluation so that you can determine if the video was successful or effective or good. (Depending on how you choose to approach the question.)

In order to be successful, a commercial should have a clear target audience and be successful or effective in reaching that audience. That is the first assigned criteria that you need to address. Obviously as part of this discussion you also need to include an analysis of who the target audience is and how you know. Don’t stop there, though. Make sure you say whether or not you think that audience was successfully reached AND support your statement.

Most of you did a good job with analysis of the target audience of your commercial in your digital presentations. So you would use that information and add to it whether or not you think the commercial would be successful in reaching its target audience.

Obviously some of you can do that by looking at information on the increase of sales. (Go, Kia group!) But you can also argue whether you think that the content of the commercial would appeal to that target audience. That is an analysis (what appeals are made) WITH the evaluation (effective in reaching target audience) aspect included.

Argument Criteria
In addition, all commercials make an argument. You need to discuss what argument your commercial makes (analysis) and then say whether or not the argument was made successfully or effectively (evaluation).

At their most basic level any commercial’s argument is “Buy our product.” Usually the argument is made by saying “If you buy our product, our product will make your life better by X.”

Argument Criteria Example
The Dove Evolution commercial basically says, “If you come to our workshop, it will make your life better because it will give you a more realistic view of beauty.”

It isn’t that simple of an argument, though. Most of the commercial time is spent showing you how advertising distorts the images that it uses so that the “beautiful” model on the billboard is perfect. So, a more complete and/or accurate description of the commercial’s argument is, “Modern advertising is unrealistic. This lack of realism distorts our understanding of beauty. Everyone has a distorted sense of beauty. Come to our workshop to get a more realistic view of beauty.”

Also, there is an implied aspect to Dove’s argument. The implied argument takes the overtly stated argument above and adds to it. “Modern advertising is unrealistic. This lack of realism distorts our understanding of beauty. Everyone has a distorted sense of beauty. Come to our workshop to get a more realistic view of beauty and you will understand that YOU are beautiful.”

The implied part of the argument would be, I would suggest, the most effective in reaching the target audience of women and girls who have been negatively impacted by the cultural presentation of beauty. That might be all women and girls in the U.S.

In our modern culture it is a high value to be beautiful. Because of that, almost every girl and woman wants to be beautiful. Some may have given up hope of it ever happening, but if offered the opportunity to be beautiful, most women would grab it in a millisecond.

What women would give to be beautiful is discussed in a fantasy novel I have recently read. If I needed more information to lengthen my paper, I could add a summary of that discussion as additional proof that the argument that Dove is making is legitimate.

If the women of America could go to this Dove workshop and change the cultural view of beauty, then they would have a chance of being beautiful. And even if they only change their own view of beauty, at least they will come out of the workshop feeling better about their looks. Everyone wants to feel good about themselves. So this implied argument improves the chance of their basic argument being accepted.

For the paper, I would discuss how Dove builds the overt argument’s parts AND how the implied argument is included. Then I would say whether I think it is effective or not and why or why not.

Other Criteria Required
Other than those two points (target audience and argument), you need to come up with your own criteria for what makes a commercial good.

People’s criteria will differ.

The evaluation essay builds on each point so that the final thing you discuss (before conclusion) should be your most important criteria (Allyn and Bacon 389).

Other ways to discuss the criteria or vocabulary for talking about criteria can be found in chapter 14 on page 385 (sufficient, necessary but not sufficient, accidental).

How to Find Good Criteria
Using a commercial that YOU like, that is not the one your group chose, may help you identify criteria that you think are important for commercials that are not necessarily in the commercial your group chose. You might also think of why your group thought that particular commercial was a good choice. Those are criteria.

Example of Dr. Davis finding other criteria
For instance, I looked at my favorite commercial of all time… I saw it 30 years ago and remembered it well enough to find it on YouTube recently–last year, I think. It’s a Hallmark commercial with Freddie and Sam.

From watching that commercial, I would say my criteria for what makes a good commercial are 1) memorability or uniqueness, 2) pathos, 3) unexpected twist or information, 4) positive view of world/life/relationships. Maybe I would add 5) belief in “happily ever after.”

Taking my five criteria, 1) memorability or uniqueness, 2) pathos, 3) unexpected twist or information, 4) positive view of world/life/relationships, and 5) belief in “happily ever after,” I would have to say that the first four would be necessary, but not sufficient. The fifth would be accidental, EXCEPT that if the commercial showed the opposite, I would probably not like it.

So, for me, the first four all have to be there for a commercial to be great.

If I were just trying to determine what is a good commercial, I would say that #3 (unexpected twist or information) becomes accidental.

So how would I talk about the Klondike commercial, if that were my group’s commercial?

Klondike Audience
The target audience of the Klondike commercial “Five Seconds to Glory” is the average or normal guy. The target audience is obvious because the main character in the commercial is an average guy. The main character of the video is portrayed positively and that makes it clear that men like him are the target audience.

That the target audience is an average guy is clear from what the character is wearing. He is wearing normal clothes. He’s not in a tux or a bath towel, for example.

The average guy is the target because the character is doing something normal. He is sitting on his couch watching television. He’s not out on a yacht or riding a horse down a beach.

It is also clear that the average guy is the target because he does not want to be interrupted (no saints here).

The commercial is an appeal to an average guy by saying that what he does IS an overwhelming challenge. (Other appeals are mentioned in this earlier post.)

The target audience may not be the average guy but perhaps the unhappy average guy because, although this guy has money (a house, television, couch, and the money to buy new paint for a room), he does not have a great relationship with his wife. He is only willing to listen to his wife for a reward.

OR Klondike could be saying that the average couple does not have a good relationship. That might be part of the argument the commercial is making.

Klondike Argument
At its simplest, the Klondike commercial “Five Seconds to Glory” argues that Klondike bars are a good reward for the hard things you do in life AND that it is a good enough reward that people might voluntarily do hard things in order to win the reward.

The commercial makes that argument clear when it asks: “What would you do for a Klondike bar?” This clearly implies that Klondike bars are a reward and what you would do has to be hard, because we don’t do something for an end that has no value and no one gets a reward for something simple and basic. (For example, on a quiz you usually have to put your name, but you don’t get points for putting your name on the quiz.)

Then the commercial shows that listening to your wife is hard. The average guy in the commercial is sweating while he tries to listen to his wife for an entire five seconds.

The five seconds part of the commercial also indicates that this must be something hard to do. It is not only timed but timed in increments of seconds. Hard things are timed.

Marathons are timed. Contractions are timed. Bull rides are timed.

Perhaps I might want to argue that an implied argument here is that listening to a wife is more difficult than riding a bull at the rodeo, since the reward comes with a lower second threshold. (That is, you have to stay on the bull for eight seconds, but you only have to listen to the wife for five. That proves listening to the wife is harder.)

Klondike by My Criteria

So, if I use my criteria and I apply them to the Klondike “5 Seconds to Glory” commercial, the Klondike commercial would be a good one based on memorability and maybe pathos–because there is emotion, but a negative or neutral for all the other necessary criteria. BUT Klondike’s commercial also has an unexpected twist, which was my accidental criterion. The average guy receives a winning Game Show celebration for his five seconds of listening to his wife.

If I were using my criteria of what makes a good commercial, I would discuss the Klondike advertisement in terms of:
memorability or uniqueness (necessary but not sufficient)
unexpected twist
positive view
belief in happily ever after

The Klondike commercial is memorable because, having seen it last year, I still remember it well enough to complain about it. In this paragraph I would talk about what makes it memorable–the interaction with the wife and the “game show win” type celebration. The commercial is memorable.

Then I would discuss the pathos. The emotional appeal is of doing something incredibly hard and winning a major prize, delivered by good looking women in mini-skirts. I would talk about why that appeal would be favorable for the target audience, but is actually a negative for me as a viewer. I love seeing the underdog win, but this guy only “won” over his inability to care about his wife (shown by his inability to care about her words). And when he wins, he revels in the win and celebrates with other women, rather than bringing his wife into the celebratory atmosphere with him. Thus I see this as an appeal to being exclusionary towards the person that the winner should include. For me as a viewer the pathos then is a negative rather than a positive factor. It is there, but it detracts rather than supporting a value judgement of “good” for this commercial.

There is an unexpected twist. In my criteria I am not sure whether this should be first because it is not essential for a commercial to be good, or last, because it may be essential for it to be great. … However, since the “twist” is the party in the den without the wife’s participation, I would probably put it first in my criteria because it is not a twist that makes me see the commercial positively.

People will say that this commercial is positive. There is a legitimate argument that can be made for that. However, I would say that it is negative because it devalues marriage, something I see as very valuable. On the other hand, it almost glorifies ice cream, something which even if I worked for an ice cream company I would not value as highly as marriage. It does value “hard work” and challenges, which I would say are important; the commercial’s definition of what constitutes hard work and a challenge, however, is not a match for mine. For me, this commercial shows a person valuing his own immediate and unnecessary pleasure (ice cream is food but he is not starving) over his wife’s time and ideas. The commercial not only shows him doing that, but it celebrates his indulgence. This commercial does not present a view of the world that matches the one I want valued; therefore, I would say it negatively portrays husband-wife relationships and wives in general and aggrandizes the value of self-indulgence and consumption. So, for me, this commercial does not support a positive view of relationships or people. That is probably my most important criterion, so it would come last in my discussion.

Obviously this commercial fails to meet the “happily ever after” storyline. This is the “realistic” tale of marriage as a struggle and a burden and a challenge, not even a balanced tale of marriage as a challenge and a joy both. Certainly I have known marriages where the people were not happy and focused on their relationship with the other person as something to be “gotten through,” but that is not how I see marriage and it is not how I want it portrayed.

For each of these points I would discuss specific things in the commercial that support what I am saying. Some of these supportive details would be repeated. The negative view and the lack of happily ever after would both be supported by the man facing his wife’s conversation as a challenge, struggling to listen to her for a whole five seconds, and celebrating his triumph over her inanity by eating and mingling with lovely ladies–not just himself but while totally ignoring her.

Finally, I would look at what criteria Klondike probably used to judge the commercial worthy of receiving money for production and presentation. Probably they thought it was humorous and the exaggeration of the man’s difficulty of listening to his wife, which is totally unrealistic, was funny. Also the idea of treating the man’s challenge as the equivalent of winning the million dollar prize on a game show, with booth babes and confetti, is over the top and could be viewed as funny.

Not only can I see why they might think so, I can understand why others would enjoy this commercial and certainly not be as offended as I am/was. However, for me, this potentially funny, unrealistic view supports a negative stereotype of relationships and tears down an institution which I think is fundamental to civilization. Yes, I like ice cream, but people, especially those a person has made a lifetime commitment to, are far more important than indulging a sweet tooth and taking advantage of an opportunity to party.

This entry was posted in Writing: Dr. Davis. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *