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Visual Argument Analysis Essay

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Visual Argument Analysis Essay
Effective Advertisement
Effective advertisement immediately appeals to a viewer, stimulates one’s interest, persuades the targeted group to buy a product or service, or give support to a certain cause. We live in a fast paced world where everybody seems to be in a rush, therefore, the advertisers have to follow the “3 seconds to impact” rule (MAD). This means that they have “approximately 3 seconds to accomplish [their] marketing objectives”: to catch the viewer’s attention, convey a message, and provoke reactions or actions (MAD). The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ (PETA) anti-fur advertisement that I have chosen for this assignment meets all the above-mentioned criteria of an effective advertisement (McCartney).
This particular print advertisement by PETA portrays Sophie Ellis-Bextor, an English singer, songwriter, model and occasional DJ, holding the skinned lifeless body of a fox. There are three main components in this commercial: a pitch black background, an attractive female celebrity, and a skinless animal. Metaphorically, the color black represents death, and it immediately determines the dark nature of the advertisement. Sophie Ellis-Bextor is wearing a black cocktail dress, her black cherry hair matches perfectly, and her red lipstick stands out on her pale, fair skin. As she strikes a glamorous pose by placing her right hand on her hip, the viewer can see that she is holding the skinned fox in her left hand. The bloody corpse is just hanging there, obviously lifeless, but also tortured. It looks like the animal may have been tortured and skinned while it was still alive as its eyes appear to be tightly shut in pain, and its jaws are slightly opened as if it is trying to catch the last breath. The fur remains only on the head and paws of the animal. The viewer can only imagine how beautiful the animal was before it was excoriated. Since both Bextor's dress and hair blend together with the dark background of the picture, the dead and still bloody animal becomes the primary focus of the viewer. The staggering image of the dead fox evokes strong emotions of disgust and hatred. One also sees Bextor's face full of anger, displeasure and resentment, as if she is saying how much she loathes animal abuse. The advertisement puts the viewer in a state of shock because it revolts to imagine what animals have to go through to become a coat with a price tag on the shelf. At the bottom of the image it reads "Here's the rest of your fur" in bold white letters. Below the slogan, there’s a website,, in a bloody, red writing. The web link gives consumers an opportunity to do their own research about the brutality of fur industry.
All elements of the advertisement are brilliantly put together so that the poster immediately grasps one’s attention. The poster is made in haunting colors of black, white and red, portraying not only the attraction and glamor of a celebrity but also the contrast between the beauty of life and the horror of death. There is an evident contrast between the somber of black, the bleeding red and the pure white. The fur industry and upscale fur boutiques use celebrities to advertise their products. To counter that, PETA also recruits famous public figures to their cause to gain more support. Although PETA has chosen beautiful Sophia Ellis-Bextor, the singer is not the primary focus of this advertisement. Instead, the skinned fox seizes one’s attention. Unfortunately, it is not a well-known fact that in some fur producing countries, such as China, in order to keep fur intact, animals are being tortured to death or even skinned alive (Donaldson). Thus, enlightened consumers may rightfully assume that the portrayed fox has been brutally tortured and skinned. This very powerful and creative advertisement is aimed to appeal to emotions.
Every advertisement has a target group, and this PETA anti-fur poster targets women who follow fur fashion trends. The main message that is being conveyed is to show all the suffering the animals have to go through in order to get on the racks of fur boutiques. It also urges women to not buy fur merchandise, which can cost thousands of dollars. The advertisement raises awareness of the miles of skins mercilessly stripped by human hands, and the screams, misery, and despair of the struggling animals. Before purchasing a fur product, every woman should picture a cry of pain and suffering from an animal biting off its paw to break free from a steel trap, or the breaking bones of a captured creature that is being tortured to death by a slayer (Officialpeta). If she can visualize all of these, then the message has reached the intended goal.
PETA created such powerful and appalling advertisement to urge consumers to turn away from fur merchandise. Real fur has always been a fashion statement and maintained its popularity throughout the time. It is popular and expensive due to the controversy and limited supply, however, there are many high quality, beautiful, synthetic furs on the market that keep one warm successfully for less money, and with less ethical pitfalls. Since synthetic fur looks real, and it is far more affordable, there is no need to support animal abuse by consuming real fur products to make a fashion statement. The fewer fur products are purchased, the faster the fur industry will be weaken and eventually die out. One of the most powerful elements of this ad is the slogan that reads "here's the rest of your fur." It makes people think about the fur as the whole, formerly alive, animal and not just as a piece of lifeless clothing. Consequently, by triggering compassion towards helpless animals this ad effectively provokes people to think prior to spending money on fur goods. At the same time, the pressure is put on people’s conscience to take sides on the issue of the ethical treatment of animals. It also raises awareness of organizations like PETA, and helps to recruit new donors, supporters, and followers.
PETA’s anti-fur commercial that portrays Sophie Ellis-Bextor holding the lifeless body of a fox as a leftover from a fur coat is very effective. The ad swiftly catches the viewer’s attention by the brilliant use of imagery and design. It argues that killing animals for fur is a cruel business; it is a human-centered and merciless fashion trend. And it also urges people to stop buying fur products and, therefore, stop supporting the fur industry in general.

Work Cited List
MAD. “3 Seconds to Impact.” Planet Banners. n.p., 27 May 2011. Web. 11 Mar 2013. .
McCartney, Mary. Here's the rest of your fur coat. Photograph. n.d. ‘Lead My Lips’ Sensation Says, ‘Don't Wear Fur’. Fur is Dead. Web. 24 Feb. 2013. .
Donaldson, Susan. "Fur Farming – Animals Skinned Alive" Animal Rights Action. 19 Mar. 2013. Animal Rights Action. 18 Mar. 2013 .
Officialpeta. "Olivia Munn Exposes Chinese Fur-farm Cruelty." Online video clip.
YouTube. YouTube, 12 Jan. 2012. Web. 18 Mar. 2013.

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