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Irma Figueroa

Robert Speiser

Writing 2

April 26, 2017

Different Lenses, Different Purposes: Fast Food

Fast Food, we all eat it whether it’s everyday or once in awhile. On the surface, we know that it

may not be good for us, but we don’t ask ourselves what damage it will have on our bodies when we

are hungry and on a limited time line, at least I don’t. Why we eat it or to be more specific, how our

minds are encouraged to take the action of eating it is the most important question. This question is

complicated and important, yet the answer is simple. The answer is based off cause and effect. Perhaps

we eat fast food because we don’t know exactly what's in it, or how bad it is to our bodies. The cause

comes from the way fast food is portrayed to the public and the effect is what actions are taken from the

cause. Genres communicate differently in order to serve a certain purpose. A commercial will use

conventions of persuasion and imagery to convince the consumer to buy the product being advertised.

A news article will use conventions of credibility and structure to inform the public about a certain topic.

Both commercials and a news articles can speak about the same topic and deliver different views

through content and form. A commercial persuades our minds to buy fast food through fast and little

informed clips of advertisement, but being informed may not be enough to change our actions the next

time we are hungry with little time on our hands.

News articles have existed for a long time. They always have a title that tells the reader what will

be discussed. Sometimes articles purposefully mention the audience for whom the article is directed to in

the title. For example, in the San Francisco Gate article by Kevin Kolodziejski the title, “How Fast
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Food Effects Nutrition In Teens,” directly states what the article will discuss and specifically targets an

audience when using the word “teens.” Teens are often prone to eating more fast food, but in order to

buy the fast food they need money. Therefore the article is not applied to teens themselves, however the

parents or guardians of the teens who provide the money. They are the ones who need to be informed

of the dangers of fast food to their children. A parent who sees a title that says something is endangering

their child will be urged to pick up the article and read it. Other times the titles are dramatic and are

made to look as a “fact.” For example, in the article from the Huffington Post, by Kristin Kirkpatrick,

the title, “Fast Foods Immediate Damage To Your Health,” does not suggest a specific audience, but it

directly makes a personal connection when using “your” and it is eye catching through using words like

“immediate damage.” It is specially important to notice how the titles of both articles are not full

sentences. They are not academic or demanding, they are simply stated and it invites the audience into

an informative conversation while meeting its purpose of informing about the effects and damages of fast

food.

Moreover, news articles use rhetorical strategies to appeal to their audience. One way is

through logos, appeal through logic. Another is through ethos, convincing through credibility. This is

done by adding outside sources to support the ideas presented through studies, statistics or surveys. In

the article from Kolodziejski, one of the studies was from the National Institutes of Health and it stated

that, “In large part, increased consumption of fast food has created a 250 percent increase in obese

teens between 1980 and 2008.” The purpose here is to support the effects of fast food on obesity and

disease. It not only appeals through reason proving that there is data and evidence that fast food is

affecting teens, it also appeals through credibility because it comes from a reliable source. This will

encourage the audience to trust the claim the article is making and the information given. In the article by
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The Huffington Post for example, Kirkpatrick also uses results of studies. One of the studies was by the

Canadian Journal of Cardiology, which said the study “..indicates that damage to the arteries occurs

almost immediately after just one — that’s right, one — junk food-type meal.” The Canadian Journal

study is used to support the “immediate damage” of fast food stated in the title, use of ethos. As seen

the importance of having a study from a Journal of Cardiology supports the evidence that fast food

causes immediate damages to your health. It is credible because it is a scientific study from a source

relevant to the topic being discussed. Note that the way the news articles present the scientific study do

not have to be serious and technical, in fact in this particular example we see that it is presented in a

conversational manner. Most significant, it is important to notice that studies chosen for new articles are

chosen carefully. The article is dependent of the support of the evidence and the evidence must be

appropriate within context of the topic to make the effect possible. Additionally, news articles use

pathos, an emotional persuasion to catch the audience's attention. For example, Kirkpatrick end's her

article speaking directly to the audience about family and wellbeing. She says, “Want to improve your

health and beauty and the wellbeing of your family?,” and then continues to explain a solution to the

problem proposed. Use of pathos allows for a more personal connection to the audience. All of the

strategies and conventions help make the purpose of each article, build the argument that fast food

effects are damaging to our health, while grounding in evidence that maintains in context to make their

purpose more effective.

Although they have not been around for as long as newspaper articles, commercials have gained

prominence. Commercials catch an intended audiences attention, through visual representation rather

than written information. In contrast to newspaper articles, commercials often have limitations. This

could be based on factors of cost, but far beyond that the goal is to grab the audience's attention fast
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and deliver their message efficiently. For example, the exact time of a McDonald's happy meal

advertising commercial I looked at was 30 seconds (2017). Within that time the commercial presented

happy music, visual's of a McDonald's location, minions playing and having fun at the McDonald's when

buying there happy meal, a child and his mom smiling , and at the same time they delivered their

message using only 15 seconds of the entire commercial. They say "Choosing milk isn't just fun, it's also

really good for you. And for even more fun, you can get apple slices, and a mini minion of your very

own... in your McDonald's happy meal." Doing all of those things at once in just 30 seconds, allows the

viewer to not pay attention to detail, but the superficial idea that is being delivered. The audience will not

notice how there is no information about where the food comes from, how many calories it has or

whether it's good or bad for them.

Furthermore, the product is presented in simple forms. They show a quick glance of the food

and make it look appetizing, fresh, warm and in large portions, even if in reality the product is frozen,

not served hot and very small. They offer variety and a cheap prices in efficient timing, which makes

people with constraints be more likely to take quick impulses and buy it. Through animation of movie

characters such as the Minions, from popular new movies, commercials catch children's attention.

Specially through mentioning the offer of a “free” toy with their meal. Similarly as new articles however

commercials also appeal to their audience through the rhetorical strategy pathos, through using visual

representations of families eating together and showing children happy and healthy dining at the fast food

restaurant. For example, in another McDonald’s commercial they advertise the Happy Meal while

introducing "McPlay" an app where you can play games while dining (2016). In American culture there
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is value in family, therefore depicting a happy family and happy kids will make the advertisement more

convincing. Children who see the commercial will see the toy and games, more than they listen or want

the food and ask there parents, and most likely convince them to stop by McDonald's. It also gives

reassurance to parents watching, that the food there is good and it will bring you a good time, even if in

reality the restaurant advertising does not care whether you come alone, with your family, if you dine in

or if you drive-through.

In sum, as seen the use of different and in some cases similar rhetorical strategies and

conventions are used within genres. Both genres chosen, news article and commercial advertisements

have an audience and a purpose to fulfill. Through the same topic of fast food it is evident that the

conventions used have a specific impact on the message delivered. In the news article it being the harm

of fast food and in the commercial being the persuasion to sell the product, a Happy Meal from

McDonald's. A fast food commercial uses short slogans, runs fast. It uses visuals and audio to fulfill

their purpose, never mentioning where there “fresh” product comes from or how many calories it

contains; something that is specific and a big deal in the news articles. In the same way news articles do

not need to use a visual representation to fulfill their purpose of informing their audience of the health

damages of fast food, since the majority of Americans know what fast food looks like. Even though a

commercial pops up in your TV to interrupt your favorite show and a news article in contrary is

something you have to pick up and read for your own interest, neither have a better purpose or portray

their information better. Both genres succeed in delivering their message in different ways. Whether you

knew the information about what is in your food or not, the action you would take is based off

individually and perhaps it would not change the way you act the next time you stop by at a McDonald's

or any other fast food restaurant on a time constraint and empty stomach.
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Citations

ISpot.tv . "McDonald's Mc Play App TV Commercial 'On and On'." N.p., 22 Sept. 2016.

Web. 19 Apr. 2017. < h ps://www.ispot.tv/ad/ADwD/mcdonalds-mcpla y-app-on-and-on >

Karanveer, Soos. YouTube. " Despicable Me 2 McDonalds Happy Meal Commercial Minions 1."

15 Feb. 2017. Web. 8 Apr. 2017. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84m9UlHepT4>

Kirkpatrick, Kristin. "Fast Foods Immediate Damage To Your Health." The Huffington Post.

(2012) :Web 9 Apr. 2017.

Kolodziejski, Kevin. "How Fast Food Affects Nutrition In Teens." San Francisco Gate. (2017)

Web. 8 Apr. 2017.