Natalia Ruggiero

RCL 137 H
Section 26
10 October 2013
Rhetorical Analysis Essay

When one thinks of drinking beer, what scene or persons come to mind?
For myself, it is the typical images of men at a loud bar laughing and making
jokes or that of husbands trying to watch the football game on TV but are
continuously pestered by their wives. There are stereotypical depictions of
certain people or objects that are painted in our heads because of the way they
have been portrayed to us through society or the media. However, when we
encounter a different perspective on the way we view things, it is more likely to
stick with us and attract more people. After watching a rather short Guinness
commercial, their change in the typical portrayal of beer evoked me to analyze it
further. The Guinness beer company focuses on the common themes and
feelings of dedication, loyalty, and friendship in their advertisement in order to
attract consumers to buy their product.
The commercial begins in medias res of what looks like a very competitive
game of basketball. It pictures a group of six sweaty men in wheelchairs yelling
at each other and fighting over the ball. The game becomes so passionate that
some players lose balance on their wheelchairs and one even falls to the ground.
Meanwhile, the song “To build a home' by the Cinematic Orchestra plays in the
background to add to the intensity of the moment. The basketball match ends
and all out of a sudden the plot twists, five players stand up out of their
wheelchairs but one does not. A voiceover is heard fixating on the words
“Dedication”, “Loyalty”, and “Friendship”. Before the group of friends leaves the
court, one man is heard saying, “You guys are getting better at this” and “Next
week buddy.” The commercial transitions to a bar scene, in which the men are
seen drinking Guinness beer and enjoying themselves. A last thought-provoking
comment by the voiceover claims, “The choices we make reveal the true nature
of our character.” The commercial, only being about a minute long, is still able to
have lasting affects on the audience.
Even though there is a direct audience to which this Guinness commercial
is aspiring to reach, there is also a more indirect one. The specific group of
people that would actually be able to purchase Guinness products would be
those of twenty-one years or older, therefore this advertisement is steered
towards the alcohol-drinking adult. At the same time, since this commercial relies
so heavily on pathos and ones emotions, people of all ages are able to watch it
and appreciate its appealing narrative. The speaker of the commercial would
most likely be the company that is producing it, in this case Guinness. The
context would unassumingly be the advertiser’s, Guinness, desire to sell a
specific product, beer. In the specific narrative story, the context would be a
group of males who are displaying the nature of true friendship through their
friend’s disability.
For this particular alcohol commercial, the exact message is more difficult
to put together than the average one. After viewing it once, there seems to be no
apparent connection between the friends in wheelchairs playing basketball and
buying Guinness beer. After a further analysis, the correlation between
dedication, loyalty, and friendship becomes more apparent. The main idea that
Guinness attempts to get across to its audience is that its brand is everything one
would find or desire in a trustworthy person. Just as the basketball players were
dedicated to the game and to maintaining in wheelchairs for the duration of the
match, so is Guinness dedicated to pleasing their customers by producing the
best beer possible. So as the men were loyal to their friend in a wheelchair and
loyal to keeping the game of basketball fair for each person, so is Guinness to
maintaining a high level of satisfaction for the consumers of their product. As
exhibited, the group of men has established a strong friendship where they are
willing to go through great lengths in order for all of their friends to feel
comfortable and to fit in. One can conclude that the primary message emitted
from the commercial is that Guinness strives to be that dedicated and loyal friend
that will always be there for you and will never let you down. Therefore, Guinness
wants their audience to choose their beer based on the same criteria that they
choose their friends. Ultimately, they are equating making the choice to drink
Guinness beer to having good character and the ability to make the right
The use of Pathos is the most prominent rhetorical appeal perceived
throughout the beginning and to the end of the commercial. The mere fact that
the men are in wheelchairs instantly appeals to the audience’s emotions. Once
the commercial progresses, the plot twist evokes different feelings of what it
means to be a true friend. The use of a personal and touching story in the
beginning is one that audiences can relate to and sympathize with. Ethos is
apparent through the credibility the brand Guinness has earned and obtained
since it was first established in 1759. Since Guinness products are usually
associated with a higher level of excellence, the commercial does not have to
rely so heavily on proving and demonstrating this point. Logos comes into play
through the reasons for which the audience should buy Guinness beer. What the
commercial is essentially portraying is that one should buy their beer because
they have been able to preserve the quality of their company and will continue to
do so as time passes.
The feature that causes this distinct Guinness commercial to differentiate
from the rest of the stereotypical beer advertisements is the representation of
what an average consumer is like. As blogger Aaron Taube proposes, “Guinness
distinguishes itself from its competitors by aligning its product with a brand of
masculinity that has long been absent from beer advertising.” TV viewers are use
to seeing the same type of culturally acceptable ads that relate beer to macho
men, watching sports on a couch or in a bar, having sexy women around, and
large parties. The uniqueness in this ad is that it portrays the men’s sensitivity
and frailness by being in a wheelchair while at the same time demonstrating their
physical strength through the game of basketball and through their friendship.
An aspect that a select few of bloggers criticized was the lack of an
obvious or clear relevance between friends playing basketball in wheelchairs and
purchasing beer. The shift from playing on the court to having a drink at the bar
does seem out of place at first, but with deeper thought a relationship can be
made as stated previously. The commercial does, though, rely too heavily on
pathos since for the most part what they are doing is composing a scenario
where the audience will sympathize with the men who have disabilities. Also, a
point was made that people with handicaps and who are in wheelchairs should
be treated as normal individuals rather than distinctive because of their disability.
I believe that the use of wheelchairs in the game of basketball was solely
employed so that it would be a fair game rather than the one player in a
wheelchair have a disadvantage.
The commercial concludes with an image of a glass of Guinness beer and
the phrase “Made of More”. This motto relays the message that the company
believes it is made up of more than the usual beer companies are, therefore
making it different from the rest. They do not want their image to be that which
our culture is use to associating beer with, but rather one more complex and
appealing. Guinness’s extended use of the rhetorical appeal pathos through the
themes of dedication, loyalty, and friendship successfully grabs a hold of the
audience’s emotions and subsequently inspires and moves them.

Works Cited

Barness, Sarah. "Surprising Guinness Commercial Will Make Your Heart Melt
(VIDEO)." The Huffington Post 5 Sept. 2013: n. pag. Web.

Faklaris , Cori. "VIDEO: This Guinness wheelchair basketball beer commercial
will make you tear up!" Indianapolis Star. N.p., 9 Sept. 2013. Web.
10 Oct. 2013.<

"Guinness basketball commercial." YouTube. Guinness, n.d. Web. 10 Oct. 2013.

Taube, Aaron. "New Guinness Ad Breaks The Mold." Business Insider. N.p.,
5 Sept. 2013. Web. 10 Oct. 2013. <