Texting and Driving: AT&T commercial

Almost anything can be public address.  I view commercials as public address.  They are  trying to persuade you to buy something or vote for someone.  They are advocating a business.  They can even bring up issues that could be surrounding our community.  The  best commercial I have seen is the AT&T commercial advocating for people to not text and drive.  As texting becomes more and more popular, the issue arises of people texting while driving and not paying attention to the task at hand: driving a motor vehicle.  This commercial loads up on pathos to drive the main point home, by showing the text that got someone killed because they looked at their phone while driving and not the road.  This commercial also utilizes Humes power brief effectively by stating what the problem is (people texting and driving) and giving reasons why one would not text and drive (car accidents/death).  This commercial does a good job answering the rhetorical situation: many accidents these days are caused by people not paying attention at the wheel have it be for a phone, eating, make-up etc.

Lauren Pipkin

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8 comments so far

  1. Giana Gregga on

    This is a really good example! I’ve actually seen this before but I didn’t make the connection to the rhetorical situation. There is a clear exigence: people are getting injured and even killed by texting while driving, an audience: well, everyone has a phone really and it’s tempting to answer those urgent (or not-so urgent) texts while driving. It reaches out to anyone with the capability to text while driving and targets those who already have done so, but also others who may be tempted to. The use of strong evidence appeals to logos as well as pathos and ethos. And, there is an offered solution and a call to action: do not text and drive under any circumstances. Additionally, the message is stated up-front in text when the clip begins.

    Giana Gregga

  2. dupublicaddress on

    I’ve seen this commercial before, but I had never thought of it as a rhetorical situation. I can definitely see how it would be classified as so. The message of the ad is clear to the audience: DO NOT TEXT AND DRIVE. It’s displayed as the first thing you see. The use of graphic images and a well-thought out logic appeals to the viewers logos, pathos, and ethos to motivate them to follow through with the call to action- do not text and drive because it will injure or kill others/yourself. The audience is also targeted: nearly everyone has cell phones and they are usually near us 24/7. This commercial does target two groups of audiences: those who do text and drive and those who have the potential to. For those who DO text and drive-the commercial encourages them to quit because even if they may have not harmed anyone yet, it could happen. It is also meant to appeal to those of us with the potential to text and drive, those who have been tempted to to handle the situation before anything wrong could occur. I really like how the commercial moves in and out of logic, emotion, and moral obligation as reasons to avoid doing this. It;s very effective. Giana Gregga

  3. jakubowskic on

    I think this is a great example of public address and power brief. It is very clear and straight to the point, like Humes says to do in any rhetorical situation. It plays on pathos by using death as a binary to texting- two things that don’t typically associate together. It also is satisfies logos since it makes reason why you shouldn’t text and drive- “no text is worth dying over”. In addition it also satisfies ethos because the company that sponsors this ad is AT&T, a wireless phone company. One can clearly understand the point in this ad even though it is brief, and it does present a rhetorical situation about accidents, death, and texting. It provides a solution as well for the audience to take, simply to stop texting while driving. Overall, this is a very powerful commercial that holds a great message.

    – Catherine Jakubowski

  4. irene531 on

    I agree that this is a very effective commercial that works exigence, audience, and constraints to its full advantage. It is a known fact that more vehicle accidents are occurring because of distractions brought on by technology, especially cell phones. However, even though this commercial uses texting as an example, it reminds the audience the dangers of being distracted or loosing focus for a split second. Therefore it reaches out to all of society and our potentially distracting technology. In addition, as Lauren mentioned, the message is presented in a short span of time, yet it gets the point across. On top of the obvious pathos and logos involved as death caused by loosing control of a car after texting is very real, the commercial makes use of ethos. Because AT&T, one of the largest cell phone companies, delivers this message against texting and driving, it makes the message even more believable. If a cell phone company is bringing awareness to the damages that their own product can cause, the message becomes more sincere.

    Irene Tsai

  5. dupublicaddress on

    I also like the fact that the commercial is short and to the point, I think it adds to the dramatic effect. I also like how AT&T sort of juxtaposes a trivial text like “where you at?” and a young girl who loses her life, showing the audience that texting is not nearly worth risking your life. Clearly, the commercial taps into the audience’s pathos but also there is an element of ethos because the fact that AT&T (whose profit largely depends upon texting) is sponsoring the commercial (as Irene also mentions). Also, if consumers see that AT&T is a concerned company that stands up for a cause that may be contrary to their business agenda, they may be more likely to purchase AT&T products.

    Ali Sehringer

  6. Amanda on

    I think that the fact that the commercial is so short is what makes it effective — it definitely exemplifies power brief! There are so many commercials on TV that have loud music or really busy, theatrical scenes that the simplicity of this commercial makes it stand out to the audience, which is so important to the message. Pathos is certainly incorporated, as it is the entire point of the commercial. Ethos is established not only through AT&T sponsoring it, but through the mother talking about her daughter. Logos is also implicitly there — texting while driving can lead to death, so don’t text while driving. Establishing ethos, pathos and logos with such a short, simple commercial is difficult, but the fact that the commercial manages to do those things is what makes it effective. The audience watches it, and most importantly, the audience remembers it. I have seen commercials that try to get the same point across, but they are much more dramatic and graphic — they show the car crash, for example. While those commercials are jarring in many ways, they kind of blend in with other things that are constantly seen on TV and in the movies. The simplicity of this makes it stand apart from everything else, which is much more effective because it seems to be speaking to real life, not just another dramatized scene that we see all the time. Also, I really like that the voiceover never reads what is on the screen — the audience can read it themselves, and it makes it necessary to pay attention to both the visual and the audio. This is an extremely effective commercial, and I believe that it is effective because of its power brief — it would have lost its power if it had not been so simple.

    -Amanda Daniels

  7. samuele40 on

    The brevity of this commercial is what gives its message power. Humes noted that saying less can be more, and that long winded explanations are not always the best way to go about making your point. Also, the inanity of the text that is used in this commercial “where you at?” Had the text been more urgent, something like, “Oh my god there’s an emergency at home.” or whatever it might have seemed less powerful. However, because the text is so pointless it makes the death of the driver because of that particular text seem even more pointless and unfortunate. This example of public address really shows how utilizing simple statements can make a powerful point.

  8. sritch15 on

    I think this is a really good example of public address. It addresses the exigence: that too many people are being injured and even dying because of texting while driving. It also addresses its audience: anyone who has or knows someone who texts, which, well, is pretty much everyone these days. I agree with Catherine, that this is a good power brief. It is short and to the point, and the viewer knows exactly what the commercial is for. It also appears to ethos, pathos and logos as well: it gives the cold, hard facts, holds credibility, and stirs some sort of emotion. This could be considered a persuasive form of public address as well, in that there is a call to action and a clear statement of what we can do: do not text and drive. So, I think this is a really good commercial with a strong message.

    -Sarah Ritchey


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