West Chester University

Fall 2001

Spring 2002


Delaware County Community College
Chester County Operations

Summer 2002





Course Information
  A Note From Your Instructor

Notes for English Comp I
  The Rhetorical Situation
  Writing Descriptively
  Building a Thesis
  Overcoming Reader's Block
  Doing Analysis
  Introduction to Analogy and Comparison/Contrast
  In-class exercise: Using Analogies
  In-class exercise: Practicing Comparison/Contrast
  Practice Sample: Using Comparison/Contrast
  Comparing Apples and Oranges
  Comparing/Contrasting Two Advertisements

Major Essay Assignments
  Essay #1 Imagining An Ideal Learning Environment
  Essay #2 Analyzing the Language of Advertising

General Announcements
  Daily Assignments


Go Exploring
  A Weblog for ENG 120
  Writing Assistance on the Web

Join the Conversation
  ENG 120 Discussion List


~~ Comparing/Contrasting Two Advertisements ~~

Once you've observed the similarities and differences you find most interesting or revealing, or instructive, then you can think about how to present your findings in writing. The Prose Reader introduced two methods for organizing your work: "point-by-point" or "subject-by-subject" (pp. 339-31).

Remember, the whole process started long before you thought of writing paragraphs or essays. It started with analysis. With questions and observations. With notes. Before you even start to write, you know several things:

  • Your "basis" for comparing and contrasting (your criteria, your questions—the categories you established that will apply equally to both subjects).
  • Your specific observations (the specific answers to the questions you posed).
  • What you learned by comparing and contrasting (the conclusion you draw, the evaluation you arrive at, what we know that we didn't know before).

Comparing and Contrasting Two Advertisements

Let's look at two ads and try putting into practice some of the things I've introduced about analysis and about comparison/contrast.

My purpose is to analyze these ads—to try to discover something about them that I didn't know before. I want to uncover the hidden messages, the subtle subtexts in each ad. I chose these two ads because on the surface they share some of the same features.

See for yourself. Analyze these ads for "State Farm Insurance" and "RVing." Observe them closely and see if you notice similarities and differences in the way they communicate.

[click on the image for a larger view]

[click on the image for a larger view]

What I want to know about these ads is—why might they be persuasive? Who are they appealing to? As I observe the ads, I can establish several broad categories that will provide the basis for my close observation of each of them.


  • use of text
  • use of imagery
  • use of color
  • use of layout


  • both images create a kind of fantasy for working parents
  • both images evoke strong emotions about parenting
  • both images have people whose faces we can't see
  • both images use creative cropping to get the viewer to focus specifically on the people featured, and to create a certain kind of feeling about them; she's harried and cropped at the head; he's a small blip in a larger grand picture of serenity.


  • gender of the target audience is different for each
  • use of text differs—the State Farm ad flatters its audience, while the Go RVing ad entices its audience with the promise of leisure; amount and placement of text
  • The parents pictured in each ad represent different levels of activity and intimacy with their children. The children pictured in each also demonstrate different levels of intimacy with their parents.
  • The fantasy differs for each gender. The female fantasy presents a working mother who can take care of her kids and make a business call at the same time. She's superwoman. the male fantasy is to be out in nature, serene and at one in the rugged outdoors, kicking back with just the boys--father an son sharing a quiet "significant" moment.
  • the State Farm image uses a very drab, grayish color, suggestive of a kind of subdued business casual you'd find in a cubicle in an office environment—even the skin tones are cool; the Go RVing ad uses more earthy color tones—mainly deep blue and reddish brown and and a touch of green. Skin tones are hot.

Conclusion: Despite their different target audiences, both ads offer a persuasive fantasy for working adults who want to see themselves as really good parents.






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