Argumentation (2008) 22:507–519 DOI 10.


Argumentation Theorists Argue that an Ad is an Argument
M. Louise Ripley

Published online: 5 June 2008 Ó Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Abstract Using print ads and recognizing the role of visual images in argument (Groarke) and the presence of arguments in ads (Slade), this paper argues that the work of argumentation theorists from Aristotle to van Eemeren and Grootendorst can be used to support the thesis that ads are arguments. I cite as evidence definitions, demarcations, delineations, and descriptions of argument put forth by leading scholars in the field of argumentation. This includes Aristotle, Informal Logic, Toulmin (Claim, Data, Warrant, Backing, Qualifier, Rebuttal), Johnson and Blair (argument as ‘‘reasons or evidence as grounds or support for an opinion’’), Gilbert (Multi-Modal Argumentation), and van Eemeren and Grootendorst (argumentation as a social activity and pragma-dialectics). I show how, although just fitting a particular advertisement to someone’s definition does not mean that all ads are arguments, nevertheless, the fact that we can find in an ad all these elements from this variety of scholars over time, leaves us reasonably secure in stating that an ad is indeed an argument. Since my argument would be the same for practically any ad, I am using only one ad. I do, however, use the kind of ad that is least likely to seem to be an argument: an ad with few words, an ad which is mostly visual. If I can show how even an almost entirely visual ad can be analyzed as an argument using the terms of all these scholars of argumentation, I will maintain that most ads could be analyzed in the same way. Keywords Advertising Á Argumentation Á Blair Á van Eemeren Á Gilbert Á Grootendorst Á Johnson Á Multi-modal-argumentation Á Pragma-dialectics Á Toulmin

M. L. Ripley (&) York University, 282 Atkinson College, 4700 Keele Street, Toronto, ON, Canada M3J 1P3 e-mail:


I refer only to print ads. I will support my claim by briefly examining one advertisement using the terminology and principles of a number of well-known theorists in the field of argumentation: Aristotle and Formal Logic. What did surprise me. I have chosen one ad. the main contention of my paper is that an ad is indeed an argument. but from my youngest days. some tools from Informal Logic. sensuously curved. I will show that. and a website address. I also accept the proposition (Slade 2002. I went on to earn a PhD in Marketing and study advertisements as a career. Not only had I always assumed that an advertisement is an argument. She stands. I since have discovered specific terms for such concepts and while I will at the end of my paper entertain the challenging possibility that an ad might be a dialectic argument. p. her breasts overflowing the top of the bustier. 123 . To narrow the scope of the paper. 174) that we must at least assume that ads contain arguments. Ripley 1 Introduction Growing up in a family that subscribed to The New Yorker at a time when a centerfold advertisement in that magazine cost 10 times what my father earned in a year. for Artistic Tile of New York City. I accept the proposition that ‘‘a satisfactory attempt to understand argument must recognize the pervasive role that visual images play in everyday persuasion. Johnson and Blair.’’ On the bottom of the page is printed the name of the company and the phrase. ‘‘You Won’t Believe Our Body of Work. Toulmin. it is perhaps not surprising that I became fascinated with advertising. Gilbert.508 M. L. I had always imagined an advertisement as a kind of two-way dialogue. in each case. in front of a deep-red velvet curtain with a light shining on her. argument and debate’’ (Groarke 2005. 2 The Ad for my Argument For this paper. The full-page colour ad shows a sultry woman from the hips up. the ad fits the scholar’s definition of an argument and that we are able to analyze the ad using the scholar’s work as if the ad were indeed an argument. upon having the good fortune while teaching business within a liberal arts college to fall in among a group of philosophers. For the purpose of this paper. The woman fills twothirds of the page. ‘‘Check out our overflowing selection of alluring styles. published in the Sunday New York Times Magazine in March 2006. I use the term ad and advertisement interchangeably. pp. her arms upraised.’’ Below that is listed the company’s locations. a telephone number. wearing only large gold hoop earrings and a bustier made of small gold mirrored tiles. and van Eemeren and Grootendorst. The small white copy to the right of her bustier says. was to discover that there is disagreement among philosophers as to whether or not an advertisement can be considered an argument. 186–187). This dialogue I saw taking place between the producer of the product who has reasons why the reader should purchase it and the reader of the ad who sees no reason to do so.

leading to a conclusion. Artistic Tiles are things that make an unbelievable body of work. using only what is evident in this ad. and we will examine that later. named from the Greek word for ‘‘bring together. the more subtle argument that the advertiser makes on this page is. some representatives of which we will examine later. given we have a valid argument. perhaps even equivocation. One tool of Informal Logic with which we can analyze this ad is fallacies. Artistic Tiles are things that are alluring and overflowing. When working with advertisements. of course. we would also have a sound argument. more complex. if we were to allow a visual image as equivalent to a word. Given the visual image in the ad. to analyze the ad. I always make the effort to construct a First-Figure Triple-A-Mood syllogism because it is most easily shown to be valid. in proper syllogism form. in plain English. the argument is: All things that are alluring and overflowing are things that make an unbelievable body of work. namely Johnson and Blair.’’ In it. The arrangement supports one of advertising’s favourite themes. as opposed to its proponents. we construct a deductive argument wherein we bring together two premises containing a major term. and the voluptuousness of a well-endowed model. the Western tradition of formal logic became heir to the concept of the syllogism. and a middle term. a minor term. sex. Phrased in the actual language of the ad. and therefore a true conclusion. A second tool of Informal Logic is the concept of ‘‘acceptability/relevance/ sufficiency. We might fairly easily agree that a large selection of alluring materials would lead to a good finished product. I decided that Artistic Tile’s basic argument for why one should buy their tiles. This gives the advertiser the benefit of the doubt and credits the company with at least having constructed a valid argument. we can easily apply Aristotle’s classic terminology for analyzing an argument. Plato’s most famous pupil. The word body in the phrase ‘‘body of work’’ is linked with the image of the body of the woman.’’ The use of objects unrelated to product attributes to sell the product is 123 . My point here is to show that. The premises twice employ the fallacy of amphiboly. and in the sense of some of its tools. is: You should buy our tiles because they are very stylish and we have a huge selection that has enabled us to create many unbelievably beautiful washrooms in people’s homes.Argumentation Theorists Argue that an Ad is an Argument 509 3 The Ad as Argument Using Aristotle/Formal Logic From Aristotle. The word overflowing is linked with the image of the overflowing breasts. to make a connection between an abundant supply of tiles to create attractive washrooms in one’s home. especially if criticizing them. 4 The Ad as Argument Using Informal Logic I use ‘‘Informal Logic’’ here as opposed to the Formal Logic of Aristotle and Plato. If we were willing to grant that the premises were true.

His 1958 model. Toulmin claimed that ‘‘the backing for warrants can be expressed in the form of categorical statements of fact’’ 123 . that is. the two premises have not told me enough about the tiles or the care taken in their installation to assure me of that conclusion. it would be appropriate. 11). L. There are many other tools of Informal Logic that we could use. but they have no relevance to important issues like quality or endurance of the product. Backing. constructed to show the structure of arguments.’’ This meant that the structure was the same regardless of the issues involved in the specific argument being analyzed. And finally. to do with sex or sexuality. given its exploitation of women. considerations. evidence. or little. and again. but it is selling construction materials and its composition is thereby questionable. as with formal logic. If this ad were selling women’s lingerie. We need to examine the premises to see if they are reasonably true or factual given what we know of the situation surrounding them. In applying Toulmin’s model and terminology. to ask whether they make sense given the conclusion at which we arrived. The ad loses in all three parts of the tripod. and modern to deny the acceptability of these premises. I have only to think of the overdone style of Rococo and my own taste for clean.’’ (Toulmin 1958. This triad of acceptability/relevance/sufficiency may be used in many cases of analysis of advertisements involving the use of sexual imagery to sell products which have nothing. facts. The tiles as advertised in the premises might be relevant to the surface appearance of the work. and might even be considered unethical.510 M. I am not at all convinced that everything that is alluring and overflowing automatically leads to an unbelievable body of work. As a reader considering remodeling my washroom. features) on which the merits of the assertion are to depend. and sometimes Qualifier and Rebuttal. we also find ourselves able to use the tools in this triad from Informal Logic for the purpose of analysis. however. an ad as an argument would have Data. Toulmin delineated an argument as the ‘‘grounds (backing. Conclusion. stark. We need to consider whether the premises are relevant to the conclusion. was particularly useful because it also was supposed to be ‘‘fieldindependent. I have no way of knowing for sure that all of Artistic Tiles’ tiles are alluring (much less ‘‘overflowing’’ whatever that may mean). Ripley a major and frequent criticism of advertising. so I cannot call them sufficient. we need to ask if the premises are enough to enable us to reach that conclusion. We can see. data. As for sufficiency. This appears to contradict the specification of backing that Toulmin uses. I came to the shocking realization that the voluptuous half-naked woman used in so many advertisements may well be seen as the backing for the warrants that stand behind the claims of any ad which uses a half-dressed bimbo as its main enticement. p. that it is possible to analyze an ad in the same way we would analyze any other argument with tools of Informal Logic. 5 The Ad as Argument Using Toulmin Stephen Toulmin arrived at an alternative to formal logic that could be used to analyze everyday argumentation. With this ad. In the language of Stephen Toulmin. these are just two examples and not a full analysis. Warrant.

p.’’ the customer most likely to buy the product. Qualifier. Warrant. p. unstated. unseen. Toulmin sought a way to make analysis of argumentation closer to real life. For that segment of the advertising world that uses the half-dressed bimbo. 105) We can plug the elements of the Artistic Tile ad into that same structure (making up an added Qualifier and Rebuttal that do not actually appear in this ad): Artistic Tiles are things that are alluring and overflowing (D) So. and that every item in an ad is aimed at getting the advertiser’s message across to the ‘‘target market. In this case. seeing that same ad. and it is the Backing particularly that represents the ‘‘real world’’ in an analysis of an argument (Toulmin 2005). (C) Unless the contractors do a poor job of installing them (R) Since All things that are alluring and overflowing are things that make an unbelievable body of work (W) On account of The fact that anything that can be represented in an advertisement by the body of a voluptuous half-naked woman must be itself ‘‘an unbelievable body of work’’ (B) Toulmin tells us that warrants are appealed to implicitly and that is the case here. This is an important point in the case for why an advertisement is an argument.’’ But a marketer. one element of 123 . p. but the backing for warrants can be expressed in the form of categorical statements of fact quite as well as can the data appealed to in direct support of our conclusions’’ (Toulmin 1958. are elements of backing that support the warrant that supports the claim. 105). presumably (Q) Artistic Tiles are things that make an unbelievable body of work. This means that lying beneath the surface of the ad. the example that Toulmin uses to diagram an argument with Data. knows that thousands of dollars went into producing it. A lay-person seeing an ad might consider it a mere statement of opinion by the company: ‘‘Our product is great. without which the warrants themselves would possess neither authority nor currency—these other things we may refer to as the backing (B) of the warrants. Toulmin states further that ‘‘[S]tanding behind our warrants… there will normally be other assurances.’’ He adds that the ‘‘statements of warrants…are hypothetical.Argumentation Theorists Argue that an Ad is an Argument 511 (Toulmin1958. In his classic work on argumentation. Conclusion. that not one element in the ad is there by accident. 105). presumably (Q) Harry is a British subject (C) Unless both his parents were aliens/he has become a naturalised American (R) Since A man born in Bermuda will generally be a British subject (W) On account of The following statutes and other legal provisions… (B)’’ (Toulmin 1958. bridge-like statements. Backing. her representation in ads of ‘‘an unbelievable body of work’’ is indeed as fact. and Rebuttal is: ‘‘Harry was born in Bermuda (D) So.

The conclusion we can draw is that Artistic Tiles will make an unbelievable body of work: an unbelievably beautiful washroom in your home. There also is as backing the frequent use in advertising of scantily clad well-endowed women to promote a variety of products that have nothing to do directly with gender or lingerie. Another reason is that they have a huge selection from which to choose. If we consider these three elements as warrants for the claim. there also exists. Today’s consumers. It appears we can draw a conclusion from the premises. the backing. The Artistic Tile ad meets that definition. Toulmin also said the measure of an argument is whether you can draw a conclusion from the premises (Toulmin 2005). 6 The Ad as Argument Using Johnson and Blair Most of Johnson and Blair’s work can be used to support my argument. The premises presented in the Artistic Tiles ad are that things that are alluring and overflowing make for an unbelievable body of work. In their chapter on advertising. together with one or more sets of reasons offered by someone to support that claim’’ (Johnson and Blair 1994. Ripley backing is the still existent if unfair stereotypical view of the construction industry that a scantily clad well-endowed woman will automatically be admired. Advertising in the early and middle part of the twentieth century may have got away with simplistic mind tricks played on a relatively ignorant audience. 225). They define an argument as ‘‘a claim. L. however. suggesting that ‘‘many ads come on as if they were dispensing reasons to a rational agent’’ (p. and frequently in the construction industry. ¸ 123 . To these arguments I respond that today’s advertiser knows that s/he must indeed dispense reasons to a rational agent. The backing is the visual image of the beautiful scantily clad woman who is both alluring and overflowing. One reason offered as support is the fact that their tiles are alluring. 224) ¸ that ‘‘advertising is best viewed as psychological persuasion—an attempt to use psychological strategies to implant the name of a product in our unconscious minds’’ (p. used regularly to sell all kinds of products. Johnson and Blair claim (1) (2) (3) that advertising only mimics argumentation. Johnson and Blair put forth a few arguments against an ad being an argument but I refute those arguments. Ads today do have far more than a facade of argument. The claim is that using their tiles will create a beautiful washroom in your home.000 advertisements in any 24 h period and endless hours spent surfing the Internet. 10). They are indeed ‘‘rational agents’’ for whom even emotionally-targeted ads must be rationally and carefully thought out. A third reason is that they have created an unbelievable body of work using these tiles. This is more than just the expression of an opinion. p. and that Artistic tiles have both those qualities. such as automobile care products.512 M. 220) that ads only ‘‘have the facade of arguments’’ (p. This backing taps into a deeply-rooted North American fixation on sex. were raised on Sesame Street and had their awareness honed by exposure to more than 3. in Toulmin’s terms.

which takes up less than 10% of the page. her simple but elegant hairstyle and earrings signifying style and wealth. On the whole. ‘‘an unbelievable body of work. We should not automatically conclude that because an ad uses an emotional (or physical or kisceral) argument that it thereby makes any less valid an argument than an ad using a predominantly logical argument. I offer a quote from Professor James Klump. the gold mirrored tiles shaped curvaceously around the model’s overflowing bosom. 2000). ‘‘Persuasion. or visceral argument. responding to Professor Leo Groarke in a discussion at the OSSA 2005 Hamilton Conference in which he referred to. it touches us in a special way. Here we encounter words like alluring and find the outcome of assembling tiles in a construction project labelled. we already were examining what Gilbert would label the emotional argument in this ad. it will be a part of our home to which we can feel deeply attached. The most powerful argument is a visual. we can put the visceral argument into syllogistic form as: 123 . (2) Emotional Argument: By the time we moved to the specific language of the ad. refutation—three types of argument even before Aristotle’’ (Klump 2005). Viewing the deep rich red curtain. Any of Gilbert’s four modes may be right for any particular ad. 1999. 7 The Ad as Argument Using Gilbert’s Multi-Modal Argumentation The existence of the ad as argument has been established in the business literature with respect to Michael Gilbert’s work on multi-modal argumentation (Ripley 1998. enquiry. Artistic Tiles are things that are alluring and overflowing. Johnson and Blair’s chapter on advertising supports my claim that an ad can be considered an argument. An ‘‘unbelievable body of work’’ indicates more than just a project well done. (1) Logical Argument: An ad whose argument is predominantly logical will appeal to our reasoning and thinking processes. (3) Visceral or Physical Argument: There is far more to this ad than the copy. visceral. We can analyze it in traditional logical terms as we did in the section on Aristotle and Formal Logic.’’ In both cases the ad uses phrases that appeal more to emotion than reason. One of the problems in the Western tradition of argumentation which Gilbert’s model seeks to correct is that too often logical is taken to mean right and emotional to mean wrong. Something that is ‘‘alluring’’ is more than just stylish. and kisceral. we need to examine three other modes of argument as well: emotional. physical. Ripley et al. Gilbert (1994) maintains that while argumentation traditionally has been associated with logic and reasoning. Artistic Tiles are things that make an unbelievable body of work. All things that are alluring and overflowing are things that make an unbelievable body of work.Argumentation Theorists Argue that an Ad is an Argument 513 As to their claim that advertising is not argument but mere psychological persuasion.

(4) Kisceral or Intuitive Argument: To the three modes of argument Gilbert added his own term. Most ads would lose much of their appeal if not allowed to fuse with our non-logical sense of connections. however. In previous work analyzing ads with Gilbert’s model. signifies either the body of a woman or the body of work of a tile layer. however. an excess of voluptuousness that will make your washroom a place of self-indulgent luxury. a beautiful woman like this will come and play with you in the shower. kisceral.514 M. a visual. phrased as a syllogism. p. I have deliberately left unclear the use of the word body. Artistic Tiles are things that attract other similar things (like this woman). the unstated suggestion is that you might BE that beautiful woman. visceral argument that backs up the logical one. In this case. it would be silly. argument is a verbal activity conducted in an ordinary language. or children (Ripley 1998. however. Even for ads that are not mostly visual. 1999). minorities. I then have proceeded to a separate section where I have analyzed the covert arguments made by the ads. L. and rich things are things that make for an unbelievable body. can be stated as: All voluptuous things are things that attract other similar things (like this woman). I have described the kisceral argument in the ad in a first section where I lay out each of the overt arguments made in the ad. is important. Rethinking the application of Gilbert’s model. 176). It is. For some female readers. Ripley All voluptuous. there will usually be some kind of picture. You could never state such a thing directly. 123 . such as high-tech product ads that contain a large amount of copy. the underlying sort of message behind most ads that feature a barely-dressed beautiful woman. The picture makes a visual argument for using Artistic Tiles in your renovation because they will bring to your home a richness of style. This is especially effective in cases where I am examining ads that are damaging to particular groups such as women. if you construct a washroom using Artistic Tiles. overflowing. The unstated but hinted-at suggestion I see lying beneath all the visual and verbal play in this ad is that for male readers (and perhaps some female). or visceral argument. Artistic Tiles are voluptuous. and rich things. as either amphiboly or equivocation. 8 The Ad as Argument Using van Eemeren and Grootendorst For van Eemeren and Grootendorst. meaning ‘‘non-logical communication that is a synthesis of experience and insight’’ (Gilbert 1994. obviously the picture. overflowing. Artistic Tiles are things that make an unbelievable body of work. Artistic Tiles are voluptuous things. from the Japanese ki: energy. the kisceral argument. The word. particularly when the product itself has little to do with scantily-clad women. The kisceral argument is fundamental in advertising. For ads like this one where there is very little copy. It may be accompanied by non-verbal means of communication. I believe we can more simply find the covert argument already incorporated within the kisceral mode of argumentation.

painstakingly and expensively planned.’’ This is the simple part of aligning the ad for Artistic Tiles with the early work of van Eemeren and Grootendorst on argumentation. An argument is more than holding an opinion. almost always accompanied by non-verbal communication (picture). it is the job of that ad. Hence Artistic Tile probably approached their advertising agency to develop an ad to convince users of construction tiles of the acceptability of Artistic Tile’s standpoint on their tiles. except perhaps for the most deeply emotional or kisceral ads and therefore an ad today must present more than just an opinion. and it was my original intent to stop there. designs. That dialogue takes place between the advertiser who says that s/he has the best possible product to meet the consumer’s needs and the consumer reading the magazine. With the exception of an ad that consists of only a visual image. otherwise an ad would not be necessary. directed at other people. or currently uses a competitor’s brand and sees no reason to change to the advertiser’s. an ad as an argument is a verbal activity conducted in ordinary language. and starts with the presumption of controversy. p. 2). But from my youngest days when I contemplated those ads in The New Yorker magazine in my childhood home through to my doctoral days when I studied advertising and today as I teach it at York University. and placed. 123 . thus making it into a kind of dialogue. An argument is a form of communication where one party attempts to convince the other party of the acceptability of a standpoint.Argumentation Theorists Argue that an Ad is an Argument 515 It is a social activity. executed. namely that: (1) Artistic Tiles has a huge selection of tiles. I have always pictured an ad as a dialogue. to present an argument to that reader which will convince the reader of the correctness of the advertiser’s position. As we saw with the analysis of Johnson and Blair. The consumer either has no interest in the product at all. or standpoint. the presumption that the other person does not agree with the arguer (van Eemeren et al. the ad for Artistic Tiles. I originally had not dared to presume to argue that an ad could be a dialectic argument. and (2) Artistic Tiles has tiles in alluring shapes. or possibly may even detest the product and want nothing to do with it. The crux of this position rests on two points. It is definitely directed at other people. The advertiser requests the production of an ad with the presumption that the consumer is not in agreement that the product must be bought. Whatever state the ad finds the reader in. in principle. The person who constructs the ad knows what kinds of objections the reader will raise to the arguments presented in the ad and will present and answer those arguments as well. Artistic Tile: You won’t believe our body of work. In all instances. I decided. p. And they did it in more than one sentence: ‘‘Check out our overflowing selection of alluring styles. it is an activity of reason since the advertiser today must contend with a more sophisticated consumer. 1996. consists of more than one sentence’’ (van Eemeren and Grootendorst 1992. The first point deals with the objective of the ad. to end my paper with a brief examination of the possibility of the advertisement as dialectic argument. an activity of reason. for the challenge of academic exploration. It is usually planned along rational lines. ‘‘Argumentation. in which the person arguing has clearly thought about the subject and tries to give a rational account of the position taken. 28). fits their description. and colours. and indeed almost any ad.

so that everything that creates a commitment for the language users is taken into account’’ (van Eemeren and Grootendorst 1992. however. p. the answers to the reader’s expected responses to the ad. We need to consider how externalization affects advertising and visual argument. This relates to the pragma-dialectic principle of externalization and the fact that we cannot attribute arguments to a person who has not made them. p. they can also be used. Johnson and Blair (1994) would have us believe that ads are merely persuasion. has. instead of speculating about what they think or believe… Insofar as implicit elements can be made explicit in an adequate reconstruction. 10). I maintain. designs. It may first appear easy to say that the ad reader’s utterances remain unspoken or internal. This leads us into the second point. I maintain that this elaborate preparation serves to externalize what the potential reader is thinking as s/he reads the ad. 90) description. ‘‘externalized’’ those internal utterances. This is a particularly poignant quote because it tars both sides of an admitted argument with the brush that Johnson and Blair used to paint only 123 . but I maintain that the producer of an ad must go much further than this today and anticipate how the educated consumer will react to an ad’s message and incorporate within the ad. using van Eemeren and Grootendorst’s (1996. the murky area of unspoken or unwritten utterances. for heaven’s sake! How can I possibly get excited about washroom tiles?!’’ Advertiser: ‘‘But look closer! Look at those alluring curves and that overflowing abundance just waiting for you in your own washroom! Look at those bedroom eyes! Look at what you could have if you’d just buy our tiles!’’ Reader: ‘‘On second thought. the dialogue would be something like this: Advertiser (putting forth standpoint): ‘‘Artistic Tiles has a huge selection of tiles in all kinds of shapes. L. 8). This makes those once-implicit elements explicit and useable by the advertiser. a non-mixed dispute with only a positive standpoint put forward. maybe you’re right. Or the ad may have as its objective that of a dialectic argument: to resolve a dispute. People who work in advertising do a huge amount of research in focus groups and pretesting with target markets before ever putting pen to paper to design a particular ad. in van Eemeren and Grootendorst’s terms. I maintain that the clever advertiser. and colours.516 M. Ripley If an ad is mere rhetoric or persuasion. the clever advertiser who has researched her target market knows quite well what the reader will respond. the emphasis is on explaining the ways in which various argumentative moves contribute to resolving a difference of opinion’’ (van Eemeren and Grootendorst 1992. Van Eemeren and Grootendorst maintain that ‘‘In a dialectical perspective. that in a sense.’’ Reader: ‘‘They’re just washroom tiles. That advertiser has then incorporated the reader’s predicted internal utterances into the ad. to use the terminology of van Eemeren and Grootendorst. p. I’ll use Artistic Tiles in my washroom renovation. In the ad for Artistic Tiles. the reader plays a passive role in a situation where the writer is allowed to use any means of persuasion with unlimited freedom and the objective is simply to win the audience over to the standpoint. and has then answered them. implicitly or explicitly.’’ ‘‘Externalization is achieved by starting from what people have expressed.

the reader will respond to the ad. It is the job of the ad to do three things. to the following passage from an advertisement for trousers: 123 . three and four are all rolled into one in a print ad. or the consumer will redouble doubts and confirm the original position not to buy the product. by the reader turning the page without remembering the ad in any significant way. Whether we call what an ad starts from an opinion or a standpoint. p.) of the product. It may have become clear that this lack of agreement is the case. An ad is someone saying that the product is good because someone else obviously either does not think it is good or has not yet realized that the product is good and needs to be convinced of the goodness (or appropriateness. A dispute between an advertiser and reader of an ad may end in one of two ways. Concluding).Argumentation Theorists Argue that an Ad is an Argument 517 advertisement as unworthy of the term argument: OPINION. A producer can never assume the consumer will purchase the product. for example. 16) in order for there to be an argument. but it is also sufficient if there is a suspicion that this might be the case. or set aside. Since the arguer. will either retract any doubts held about the advertiser’s standpoint on the product and resolve to buy it. the reader. An ad. Considering the four stages in resolution of a dispute (Confrontation. what is not at issue is the fact that the standpoint needs defending. a discursive text can always be regarded as part of a discussion. And finally. The dispute may be settled. the consumer. The dispute may be resolved in one of two ways. The ad must put forth the standpoint of the advertiser. 1992.g. and the reader of the ad who does not believe at first that s/he should purchase it. Argumentation. The very existence of advertising may well indicate that an ad is a dispute between two parties: the producer of the ad who believes that the reader should purchase the product. stages two. In principle. van Eemeren and Grootendorst discuss the need for there to be doubt concerning the standpoint (e. however. I cite van Eemeren and Grootendorst’s own use of an ad as an example of a dialectical argument: ‘‘The recommendation [to opt for such a resolution-oriented decision procedure… as the strategy of maximally argumentative interpretation] applies. is not just someone expressing an opinion about a product. given good marketing research. the time at which the reader views the visual material and reads the advertising copy. affordability. in this case the advertiser. In the words of van Eemeren and Grootendorst. real or imagined by the arguer. At various points. in some sense. This is because we have only the single moment. 13). An ad is not just someone saying that s/he believes the product is good. There is obviously doubt in the mind of any advertiser or s/he would not advertise. ‘‘A standpoint only requires defense if not everybody fully agrees with it. p. The advertiser has decided that not everybody fully agrees with his/her standpoint (that you should buy the product). in which the arguer reacts to criticism that has been or might be leveled against his points of view’’ (van Eemeren and Grootendorst 1992. otherwise s/he would not spend the money to run the ad. the ad must make it clear to the reader before s/he turns the page that this product is indeed worth buying. Finally in defense of my position that an ad may be considered a dialectical argument. The ad must advance arguments to defend the standpoint against arguments with which the advertiser suspects. etc. Opening. cannot retract its standpoint.

Multi-modal argumentation. Paul C. Hamilton Ontario: Media Production Services of McMaster University. L. and Audra Townsend. 10. Ripley. Leo. The finish leaves nothing to be desired. Michael A. Dale Schofield. or kisceral argument. Louise. 223–229. It’s just as impeccable as the cloth and moreover is subjected to very stringent quality control’’ (van Eemeren and Grootendorst 1992. working with the arguments in advertisements. I am reasonably secure in stating that an ad is indeed an argument. Paul C. Western Illinois University. Ripley Supremely comfortable and yet always smart. Western Illinois University. eds. and yet I do not know of a way to otherwise examine the emotional argument. et al. I am immediately casting it into the format of the traditional syllogism which is automatically associated with logic. and Daniel Farr. Western Illinois University. but more exciting. 2005. Philosophy of the Social Sciences 2: 159–177. What is less secure. James. 11. and descriptions of argument put forth by leading scholars in the field of argumentation from Aristotle down to the argumentation scholars of Amsterdam today. eds. a brand-quality jersey of 100% diolen/polyester. is elastic in both length and breadth and yet keeps its shape perfectly. 9 Conclusion In none of these cases do I mean to say that because we can fit a particular advertisement to someone’s definition of an argument that therefore all ads are arguments. Vol. Vol. but I do believe that having shown that we can take even a nearly totally visual ad with very few words and find in it the definitions. Logical self-defense. demarcations. In Emerging issues in business and technology conference proceedings.. Ralph H. 2000. Johnson. Monica Ben. Ripley. Hamilton. Bauerly. Inc.. Thistlethwaite. delineations. p.. 1999. In Emerging issues in business and technology conference proceedings 28–30 October 1999. 165–171. that when I am analyzing an emotional. eds. 1994. 1998. and Sheena R.518 M. Klump. Paul C. Knight. I believe I cause the emotional argument to lose some of its power. In The uses of argument: Proceedings of a conference at McMaster University 18–21 May 2005. and what provokes more exploration and further study. Toward a method of measurement of the accuracy of underlying assumptions. References Gilbert. Multi-modal argumentation: An approach to ethical decision making in advertising. Macomb. Political cartoons in a Stephen Toulmin landscape. Ontario: McMaster University. 2005. Macomb. M. Ripley. Macomb. In Emerging issues in business and technology conference proceedings 12–14 November 1998. New York: McGraw Hill. Response to professor Leo Groarke. 1994. presentation discussion at the 2005 conference of the Ontario society for the study of argumentation. The material. and J. 49). Vol. is the statement that an ad may be a dialectic argument. Thistlethwaite. M. The creation of a youth culture: Distortion in a dark glass. Groarke. Illinois: College of Business and Technology. 10. M. Anthony Blair. Ronald J. 123 . eds. Louise. 186–188. Louise. visceral. 186–192. Future work also should examine the way in which we express emotional arguments. It has long troubled me. Illinois: College of Business and Technology. et al. Thistlethwaite. David Hitchcock. Illinois: College of Business and Technology. In so doing.

.Argumentation Theorists Argue that an Ad is an Argument 519 Slade. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. van Eemeren. Analyzing argumentative discourse. Inc. Reasons to buy: The logic of advertisements. Rob Grootendorst. Fundamentals of argumentation theory: A handbook of historical backgrounds and contemporary developments. 123 . and Rob Grootendorst. Illinois: Waveland Press. 1996. and fallacies. The uses of argument. In 1990. Frans H. Toulmin. 1996. Robert Trapp and Janice Schuetz. van Eemeren. eds. Inc. Argumentation 16: 157–178. Hillsdale. Argumentation. 2005. Frans H. Hamilton. communication. 2002.. Prospect Heights. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Keynote speech at the 2005 conference of the Ontario society for the study of argumentation. Stephen. Stephen. Christina. Mahwah. Perspectives on argumentation: Essays in honor of Wayne Brockriede. 1958. Frans H.. van Eemeren. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. 1992. Inc. and Rob Grootendorst. Ontario: McMaster University. Toulmin. and Francisca Snoeck Henkemans.