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Advertisements That Appeal to Society’s Emotions
A relatively recent advertisement that was released around the year 2012 was from the
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, also known as the ASPCA. Circling
all around the Internet, even on billboards around big cities like New York, were these particular
ads that had a simple yellow background, three objects lined up, and a sentence bellow the
objects saying, “Whatever you can imagine. We’ve seen worse.” For instance, I recently saw
one of these ads that grabbed my attention. On this ad there was a bag, a brick, a puppy, and the
same words “Whatever you can imagine. We’ve seen worse.” Ads for companies in particular to
the ASPCA use pictures like a bag, a brick, and an innocent puppy, along with a self-questioning
sentence like, “Whatever you can imagine. We’ve seen worse.” to appeal to societies emotions
by convincing pet owners that animal cruelty is out there and it needs to be stopped. Advocatesy
ads for companies like the ASPCA plaster posters like this all around town in hopes of bringing
awareness to the companies cause by attracting its targeted audience, pet owners. They use
different strategies to grab their attention through the use of pictures and words.
An advocatesy ad like this has a main purpose, to bring awareness towards a cause by
appealing to pet owner’s values and principle in life. In this case the ASPCA is sending a
message to its audience that cruelty and neglect towards animals is wrong and needs to stop. The
first thing that comes to mind when someone sees an ad like the one mentioned earlier is why did
they pick these objects and these words “Whatever you can imagine. We’ve seen worse.” to
depict a message. The first thing you see is a bag, brick, and a dog. Right when you see these
three objects lined up next to each other the most horrific thoughts come to mind, which is
exactly what the ASPCA wants. ASPCA shows a bag because you can put anything in it. They
show a brick because it can be used for anything like to cause harm to something or even build

up a barrier to cover up something. Then they show not just any dog, but a puppy. These three
objects together are significant because it allows pet owners to reflect on what the issue is
representing. By doing this the ASPCA is leaving it up to the audience to imagine the worst.
While they do this they are allowing pet owners to think about their own animals by questioning
their morality. When they think about what is right and wrong, pet owners then think about not
wanting this to happen to their animal so why let it happen to another animal.
Once the audience understands the underlining message they look at the location. Why
focus this ad mainly in New York City? In New York, acts like “animal abuse and neglect [are]
mostly misdemeanor charges” (Carol Eileen Ryder). In addition to this, it is seen that New York
has very high crime rate including murder, rape, robbery (etc.). Researchers say that crimes like
these where most likely influenced by an act of animal abuse. The ASPCA carries this message
into the pictures shown so that the audience, particularly people in cities like New York, can see
that laws need to be taken more seriously, especially laws pertaining to animal abuse and neglect.
Once society recognizes the how wrong animal abuse is, they can finally put an end to the
suffering of animals.
In order to put an end to a cruel act society needs to be shown how. So the question is, are
ads like this telling society the truth? Yes they are, for instance, I recently went to a location to
observe not just the relations with this ad, but to see the message the ASPCA is trying to tell. I
went to an animal shelter where I saw animals that were extremely emaciated due to being
neglected from previous owners. Referring back to the ad, I saw that the objects and words
shown on the ad relate to the shelter. Both have a similar message, while the shelter is trying to
promote adoption they are also allowing visitors to see at first had that there are animals out
there that are being neglected everyday. Similar to the shelter, the ASPCA shows you a picture

that leads to some sort of abuse; while they do this they are challenging you as a pet owner to
stand up to the neglect. Not only are they showing you the truth through an animal shelter and
pictures; they are also providing facts, right bellow the words “Whatever you can imagine.
We’ve seen worse.” there is a fact straight from ASPCA that says, “Last year, the ASPCA
handled over 65,000 cruelty complaints, 4,000 in New York City alone…” by doing this they are
also giving its audience facts to why they should help. Seeing the neglect at first hand provides
proof that heartbreaking ads like this are telling its audience the truth and showing them where to
go to help animals in need.
Along with showing and providing evidences that animal cruelty is out there, the ASPCA
are also influencing pet owners by allowing them to question them selves, how does this ad
influence people into joining the cause? According to an ABC News article by Susanna Kim, she
says, “…ads intend to pull at your heartstrings so the American Society for the Prevention of
Cruelty to Animals, or ASPCA, can rescue animals in danger and pass legislation to protect furry
creatures.” By using this strategy of appealing to its audience’s emotions, the ASPCA uses this
tactic to involve more people. They also encourage society to go to their website which is located
on the ads. Once the audience goes onto the website they see more graphic pictures and links that
say, “Adopt”, “Pet Care”, “Donate Now”. Right when you go onto the site you see next to the
logo ASPCA, “We fight for animals. Will you join the fight?” As the audience sees these links
and questions they are being motivated to get involved through different ways of helping. At the
same time they are being motivated they also questioned, by doing this they are referring back to
pet owners morals to fight for another being other than a human.
Concluding the use of advocatesy ads, today companies use ads to advocate a cause
aimed towards society in order to put an end to something through the use of questioning ones

morals and imagery. Companies such as the ASPCA has successfully been helping animals for
148 years through the use of a well know strategy, advertisements. The ASPCA successfully
sways its audience towards their cause by using a picture of a bag, brick, and an innocent puppy,
along with words that stir up many emotions, “Whatever you can imagine. We’ve seen worse.”
They also educate those who see the ad with a fact stated in small print; this leads them to a link
where they are continued to be encouraged to put an end to animals suffering and pass laws to
protect society’s animals.

Works Cited
Kim, Susanna. "Singer Sarah McLachlan Changes the Channel on Own ASPCA TV Ad." ABC
News. ABC News Network, 07 May 2014. Web. 22 Oct. 2014.
Macleod, Duncan. "ASPCA Hints At Animal Cruelty And Neglect - The Inspiration Room." The
Inspiration Room. N.p., 27 Dec. 2006. Web. 22 Oct. 2014.
Ryder, Carol Eileen. "Animal Abuse Is a Predictor of Other Crimes, Including Domestic Abuse,
Murder, Rape & More." - The Law Office of Carol Ryder, P.C., n.d. Web. 22
Oct. 2014.
"Welcome." ASPCA. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Oct. 2014.