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Molly Taylor

12/7/14
Professor Harrison
Homework Assignment #3
I have chosen to analyze a 2013 Old Spice brand advertisement for this assignment.
This particular advertisement is available online and was also in print, in magazines and in
posters throughout the US. It is part of a large campaign launched by Old Spice with a string of
similar ads using the same selling tactics and humor. In this particular ad, Old Spice shower
gel/body wash is being marketed. I am going to discuss the target audience, the psychological
impact of the ad, and the subconscious needs and desires the ad plays upon. I will also list and
explain the rhetorical devices and fallacies that are used within this ad. Moore and Parker define
a fallacy in the third edition of Critical Thinking as an argument in which the reasons advanced
for a claim fail to warrant acceptance of that claim(402). The devices and fallacies presented in
this particular ad include: appeal to ethos, the appeal to pathos, and appeal to authority,
stereotyping, red herring, and generally unsound reasoning employed in the actual print text
portion of the advertisement.
The target audience is, strangely enough, more women-focused. The ad is geared
primarily towards women--particularly women in some sort of relationship (girlfriend, hookup,
friends with benefits, wife, etc) with men--and secondarily geared towards men, even though the
ad is for a body wash meant for men to use. The target audience is, more specifically, women
who will go to the store to buy Old Spice body wash and hygiene products for their significant
male other. There are many possibilities, but the ad is most directed at romantic relationships in
which the woman has a say.
The Old Spice ad features a hilariously, yet attractively soap-sudded Isaiah Mustafa in
the bathroom with an attractive young woman admiring him from the side of the tub. He is riding
a horse made of the bubbles from the body wash, and he dons a soapy cowboy hat, lasso,
gloves, and sheriff star on his bare chest. He looks victoriously at the ads viewer, triumphantly
holding a bottle of Old Spice body wash in one hand. He is very muscular and is covered only
so slightly by the soap--just enough to keep him decent. The attractive woman is on his side,
out of the tub, admiring him from below while wearing nothing but a bath towel. She strokes his
horse while looking up at him, which is reminiscent of many old western films in which the
typical hero is admired by the lowly and gorgeous young lady attending to him. Make sure your
man smells like a man is in large text at the bottom, center, with the Old Spice logo a two
bottles of the body wash in different scents.
The psychological effect the advertisement has on its viewers/consumers is different for
men and women. Men who see this ad might find it hilarious enough to simply want to buy the
product so that they can impersonate the ad. Many men might look at the muscular celebrity
and feel that they are somehow inferior, and they might have better prospects if they bought the
body wash--romantically and physically, in general. Men could see this ad as a representation of
what the ideal man should be like--the kind of man who is respected and is admired by
attractive women. Despite the fact that the ad is not serious in the least, it still inspires feelings
in male consumers and viewers of wanting to be a manly man, wanting to be muscular like the
man in the ad, and respected like he is by women. Women might view this very differently.

Women can see this ad and feel like they want a relationship with a man like the one in the ad,
or they might wish that their current boyfriend/fling/husband/etc. was more like the man in the
ad. This might inspire them to buy the body wash for the men in their lives. They might view the
ad and want their male significant other to be masculine, confident, and attractive as the
hilarious yet attractive man in the ad. Women also might see the pretty woman in the ad and
think they need to be more like her in order to get a man like Mustafa (or his character in this
particular ad)--so they might buy the gel for their significant other to feel better about themselves
and with some novel inspiration to change themselves as well. Overall, the psychological impact
is effective in that it would generally inspire men to buy the Old Spice gel and body wash in
order to feel more confident and attractive, and the women will generally see the ad and want to
purchase the product in the hopes of their male significant others will become that kind of man.
The subconscious needs and desires the ad plays upon are the need and desire of
people (male or female) to be wanted and found attractive, the desire for ones partner to be
attractive and fit traditional gender roles, and the desire for sexual validation. The hilarity of the
advertisement comes largely from the fact that these subconscious desires are played upon so
outrightly and directly that they no longer seem very subconscious at all. Simply, men will see
this ad and feel the need to buy the Old Spice product in order to feel more masculine,
attractive, and desirable to women. Female consumers will want their male significant others to
be more attractive like the man in the ad--or they will want a different man who is like the man in
the ad. Sexual validation is played upon in this ad for both male and female consumers/viewers.
The advertisement speaks to the desire of both men and women to fulfill desires and be
validated by the opposite sex through the purchase and use of this product.
The rhetorical devices, ethos and pathos, are employed in the Old Spice advertisement
in the display of a well-known public male figure and through the use of humor and attractive
people to create a feeling of fun as well as desire. Ethos, according to Moore and Parker, refers
to the credibility of the person delivering the argument/speech/etc (Critical Thinking, 3rd ed.).
Pathos is an appeal to emotion (336). Isaiah Mustafa is a well-known public figure and many
women find him to be very attractive. He was a former football player in the NFL, and a
successful one at that. Because of these things, men would assume he has the credibility, or
ethos, to appear in an ad that deals with masculinity and attracting/getting admiration from
women. Relatively, the fallacy of appeal to celebrity/authority is (unsurprisingly) used here.
Princeton University defines this fallacy as a fallacy of defective induction, where it is argued
that a statement is correct because the statement is made by a person or source that is
commonly regarded as authoritative (par. 1). This is arguably a fallacy because a celebrity is
being used to make an argument which he is not a real expert--and he is irrelevant to the
argument. Isaiah Mustafa is a well-known American actor. He is famous for having been a
former wide-receiver for the NFL practice squad. He is well-known, women generally think he is
very attractive and admirable, and he is quite wealthy. This, however, does not mean that
Mustafa is an expert on Old Spice products or their real effectiveness in making one smell like
a man. He is arguably not an expert in any hygiene products in general. It also cannot be
argued that Mustafa knows what a real man even smells like. This is a fallacious use of
celebrity because Old Spice is using Mustafas status in order to convince people to purchase
their products.

Red herring fallacies are An irrelevant topic or consideration introduced into discussion
to divert attention from the original issue(Moore and Parker, 380). Red Herrings appear in the
ad in the visual part of the general argument. Mustafa is advertising the Old Spice body wash,
but the horse and cowboy outfit made of bubbles are irrelevant to the body wash and its
benefits. These details, consisting of a sudsy horse and costume, are quite distracting from the
actual product itself. The details are also distracting from the slogan--the idea that a man should
smell like a man. A horse made of bubbles is irrelevant to men and smelling like a man, and
can thus be considered useless in terms of logically selling the actual product. Stereotyping is
an oversimplified generalization about the members of a class(Moore and Parker, 381). This is
also visible in the ad, as the man and the woman represent the stereotypes of ideal men and
women. Mustafa is attractive, very masculine, and desired by many women in general. The
woman in the commercial is thin, pretty, and admires the man. This paints a perfect picture of
the typical stereotype of women in our society that often suggests that women should admire
and desire strong male figures. Lastly yet fallaciously, the slogan itself is not sound: Smell like
a man, man. What does this mean? It is vague, illogical, and irrelevant to getting clean in the
shower. This text suggests that Old Spice will make men smell like a men. It also suggests that
men who do not use the product, somehow, do not smell like real men. This makes no sense,
since, biologically speaking, any man smells like a man, naturally (so long as he is always a
man!). Mustafa seemingly challenges the male consumer to buy the product in order to smell
like a man, without which they somehow would otherwise not.

Works Cited

Moore, Brooke Noel., and Richard Parker. Critical Thinking. 3rd ed. Boston: McGraw Hill,
2007. Print.

"Appeal to Authority." . Princeton University, n.d. Web. 26 June 2014.


<https://www.princeton.edu/~achaney/tmve/wiki100k/docs/Appeal_to_authority.html>.
Old Spice Ad: http://chonem1.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/oldspice_cowboy101.jpg , Web,
accessed 24 June 2014.