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How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis | Key Concepts & Examples

Published on August 28, 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on July 23, 2023.

A rhetorical analysis is a type of essay  that looks at a text in terms of rhetoric. This means it is less concerned with what the author is saying than with how they say it: their goals, techniques, and appeals to the audience.

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Table of contents

Key concepts in rhetoric, analyzing the text, introducing your rhetorical analysis, the body: doing the analysis, concluding a rhetorical analysis, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about rhetorical analysis.

Rhetoric, the art of effective speaking and writing, is a subject that trains you to look at texts, arguments and speeches in terms of how they are designed to persuade the audience. This section introduces a few of the key concepts of this field.

Appeals: Logos, ethos, pathos

Appeals are how the author convinces their audience. Three central appeals are discussed in rhetoric, established by the philosopher Aristotle and sometimes called the rhetorical triangle: logos, ethos, and pathos.

Logos , or the logical appeal, refers to the use of reasoned argument to persuade. This is the dominant approach in academic writing , where arguments are built up using reasoning and evidence.

Ethos , or the ethical appeal, involves the author presenting themselves as an authority on their subject. For example, someone making a moral argument might highlight their own morally admirable behavior; someone speaking about a technical subject might present themselves as an expert by mentioning their qualifications.

Pathos , or the pathetic appeal, evokes the audience’s emotions. This might involve speaking in a passionate way, employing vivid imagery, or trying to provoke anger, sympathy, or any other emotional response in the audience.

These three appeals are all treated as integral parts of rhetoric, and a given author may combine all three of them to convince their audience.

Text and context

In rhetoric, a text is not necessarily a piece of writing (though it may be this). A text is whatever piece of communication you are analyzing. This could be, for example, a speech, an advertisement, or a satirical image.

In these cases, your analysis would focus on more than just language—you might look at visual or sonic elements of the text too.

The context is everything surrounding the text: Who is the author (or speaker, designer, etc.)? Who is their (intended or actual) audience? When and where was the text produced, and for what purpose?

Looking at the context can help to inform your rhetorical analysis. For example, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech has universal power, but the context of the civil rights movement is an important part of understanding why.

Claims, supports, and warrants

A piece of rhetoric is always making some sort of argument, whether it’s a very clearly defined and logical one (e.g. in a philosophy essay) or one that the reader has to infer (e.g. in a satirical article). These arguments are built up with claims, supports, and warrants.

A claim is the fact or idea the author wants to convince the reader of. An argument might center on a single claim, or be built up out of many. Claims are usually explicitly stated, but they may also just be implied in some kinds of text.

The author uses supports to back up each claim they make. These might range from hard evidence to emotional appeals—anything that is used to convince the reader to accept a claim.

The warrant is the logic or assumption that connects a support with a claim. Outside of quite formal argumentation, the warrant is often unstated—the author assumes their audience will understand the connection without it. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still explore the implicit warrant in these cases.

For example, look at the following statement:

We can see a claim and a support here, but the warrant is implicit. Here, the warrant is the assumption that more likeable candidates would have inspired greater turnout. We might be more or less convinced by the argument depending on whether we think this is a fair assumption.

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Rhetorical analysis isn’t a matter of choosing concepts in advance and applying them to a text. Instead, it starts with looking at the text in detail and asking the appropriate questions about how it works:

  • What is the author’s purpose?
  • Do they focus closely on their key claims, or do they discuss various topics?
  • What tone do they take—angry or sympathetic? Personal or authoritative? Formal or informal?
  • Who seems to be the intended audience? Is this audience likely to be successfully reached and convinced?
  • What kinds of evidence are presented?

By asking these questions, you’ll discover the various rhetorical devices the text uses. Don’t feel that you have to cram in every rhetorical term you know—focus on those that are most important to the text.

The following sections show how to write the different parts of a rhetorical analysis.

Like all essays, a rhetorical analysis begins with an introduction . The introduction tells readers what text you’ll be discussing, provides relevant background information, and presents your thesis statement .

Hover over different parts of the example below to see how an introduction works.

Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech is widely regarded as one of the most important pieces of oratory in American history. Delivered in 1963 to thousands of civil rights activists outside the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., the speech has come to symbolize the spirit of the civil rights movement and even to function as a major part of the American national myth. This rhetorical analysis argues that King’s assumption of the prophetic voice, amplified by the historic size of his audience, creates a powerful sense of ethos that has retained its inspirational power over the years.

The body of your rhetorical analysis is where you’ll tackle the text directly. It’s often divided into three paragraphs, although it may be more in a longer essay.

Each paragraph should focus on a different element of the text, and they should all contribute to your overall argument for your thesis statement.

Hover over the example to explore how a typical body paragraph is constructed.

King’s speech is infused with prophetic language throughout. Even before the famous “dream” part of the speech, King’s language consistently strikes a prophetic tone. He refers to the Lincoln Memorial as a “hallowed spot” and speaks of rising “from the dark and desolate valley of segregation” to “make justice a reality for all of God’s children.” The assumption of this prophetic voice constitutes the text’s strongest ethical appeal; after linking himself with political figures like Lincoln and the Founding Fathers, King’s ethos adopts a distinctly religious tone, recalling Biblical prophets and preachers of change from across history. This adds significant force to his words; standing before an audience of hundreds of thousands, he states not just what the future should be, but what it will be: “The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.” This warning is almost apocalyptic in tone, though it concludes with the positive image of the “bright day of justice.” The power of King’s rhetoric thus stems not only from the pathos of his vision of a brighter future, but from the ethos of the prophetic voice he adopts in expressing this vision.

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rhetorical analysis of an advertisement example

The conclusion of a rhetorical analysis wraps up the essay by restating the main argument and showing how it has been developed by your analysis. It may also try to link the text, and your analysis of it, with broader concerns.

Explore the example below to get a sense of the conclusion.

It is clear from this analysis that the effectiveness of King’s rhetoric stems less from the pathetic appeal of his utopian “dream” than it does from the ethos he carefully constructs to give force to his statements. By framing contemporary upheavals as part of a prophecy whose fulfillment will result in the better future he imagines, King ensures not only the effectiveness of his words in the moment but their continuing resonance today. Even if we have not yet achieved King’s dream, we cannot deny the role his words played in setting us on the path toward it.

If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

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The goal of a rhetorical analysis is to explain the effect a piece of writing or oratory has on its audience, how successful it is, and the devices and appeals it uses to achieve its goals.

Unlike a standard argumentative essay , it’s less about taking a position on the arguments presented, and more about exploring how they are constructed.

The term “text” in a rhetorical analysis essay refers to whatever object you’re analyzing. It’s frequently a piece of writing or a speech, but it doesn’t have to be. For example, you could also treat an advertisement or political cartoon as a text.

Logos appeals to the audience’s reason, building up logical arguments . Ethos appeals to the speaker’s status or authority, making the audience more likely to trust them. Pathos appeals to the emotions, trying to make the audience feel angry or sympathetic, for example.

Collectively, these three appeals are sometimes called the rhetorical triangle . They are central to rhetorical analysis , though a piece of rhetoric might not necessarily use all of them.

In rhetorical analysis , a claim is something the author wants the audience to believe. A support is the evidence or appeal they use to convince the reader to believe the claim. A warrant is the (often implicit) assumption that links the support with the claim.

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Jack Caulfield

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Rhetoric Ad Examples

October 1, 2014 by grp5097 3 Comments

The worldwide community of customers is constantly surrounded by advertisements. Ads can be found on the side of your web browser, in the pages of magazines, on sidewalks, on television, on online apps, and even on goods you have already purchased. While these endorsements can differ in their message and purpose, they all use the same general array of rhetorical devices.

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This advertisement for Chef Boyardee employs some of the rhetorical devices.  It presents the notion of ethos through the fact that the child obviously enjoys eating the food.  Children are generally thought to be picky eaters, a commonplace worth mentioning.  The little boy’s smile proves that Chef Boyardee is delicious, and that it’s a favorite among children, in addition to being cheap.  It also presents ethos through the small lettering in the bottom right hand corner.  It reads, “Found in Mom’s Basement”.  Another common belief is that a mother’s cooking is the best cooking.  Because they are making it seem as though mother’s have given their endorsement to this product, they are justifying their credibility as a food brand.  The smile can also be considered a work of pathos; who doesn’t like to see a child smiling? It plays on the emotions of the viewers.

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Here is another ad worth investigating, albeit quite disturbing.  It is clear to see how this anti-meth campaign uses the methods of pathos in this picture.  Viewers see a dirty, tired, poor, injured man that is picking at his skin; not a person that any rational person aspires to be.  There is the use of logos by giving the audience a fact about how meth can affect your cognitive abilities; if you do meth, you will think that there are bugs under your skin.  This could also be considered a work of ethos.

Serena_Tampax

Finally, this advertisement for tampons uses pathos by having a jubilant and energized woman, in a perfectly white outfit, as the star of the photo.  People want to be happy and excited, so they become inspired by the appearance of Serena.  Serena’s fame also acts as a source of ethos because she, as a world famous athlete, is promoting the product.  If Serena Williams uses Tampax, it MUST be a reliable and functional brand.  At the bottom of the picture, some facts and statistics about the makeup of the product acts as a logos device.

In advertisements, many examples ethos and pathos can be found because they are the most convenient and direct methods to use; logos requires a longer span of attention and can bog down the aesthetic appearance of a poster.  These three posters are a few of many ads that use rhetorical devices to send their message.

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October 3, 2014 at 1:00 pm

Your analysis of each advertisement was spot on. Any tampon advertisement or commercial is incomplete without the classic all-white outfit – white tennis skirt (in this case), white bikini, or white jeans. The tampon ad definitely appeals to the idea of empowering women and not letting anything hold them back from being a champion like Serena Williams. I was surprised to see the anti-meth campaign in your post. But it serves its purpose. I felt uncomfortable just looking at it, let alone reading the caption about picking for bugs. The advertisement gets to the point quickly, which is a common trend in effective persuasion efforts.

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October 3, 2014 at 12:58 pm

I really enjoyed at you rhetorically analyzed multiple ads instead of just one. Your ads are diverse and not all part of one theme or topic. I also liked how you addressed each rhetoric device individually at the end talking about which are and aren’t effective or used as often. Your intro was also nice instead of just jumping into the post. Overall, this post was clearly well thought out and organized!

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October 3, 2014 at 12:53 pm

I liked all your advertisements that you chose. I agree that it’s hard to find logos in advertisements because I too had that same problem. The only problem was that I was a little confused on how the boy enjoying the food works as ethos. Maybe I just don’t understand ethos enough. However, I thought it was great that you also chose topics like meth and tampons because those are topics that are controversial and uncomfortable to people.

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12 Examples of Ethos, Pathos, and Logos in Advertisements

If you’re passionate about storytelling, you may have heard of ethos, pathos, and logos. These persuasion techniques form the triangle of rhetoric .

Marketers and advertisers use these modes of persuasion in their campaigns to inspire viewers to take action.

This post will dig into how advertisements have been using these forms of persuasion cleverly. But before we begin, let’s take a quick glance at what the terms mean.

Defining ethos, pathos, and logos

Ethos refers to authority and credibility.

It highlights the credibility and trustworthiness of your argument that can help you persuade your audience to buy your product or service.

Example: As a three-time Olympic gold medalist, I can assure you that this energy drink will improve your fitness and stamina.

Emphasis on being an Olympic gold medalist showcases the speaker’s credibility.

It’s why many brands partner up with doctors, athletes, and actors to feature in advertisements to endorse their products.

Pathos refers to emotions and feelings.

It allows marketers or advertisers to appeal to people’s emotions and beliefs.

Example: A bag of chips can bring the whole family together. Tugs on the heartstrings, doesn’t it? There you have it, pathos.

Logos is an appeal to logic.

Your audience can be persuaded if you can present a factual argument that’s based in reason.

Example: This durable, pocket-sized, camera is perfect for adventurers on the go.

You can use statistics,  performance metrics, past evidence, and product utility to make a compelling case in your advertisement.

Read more: Rhetoric in Presidential Slogans: Lessons for Video Marketers

Now let’s take a look at rhetoric in action in some popular ads so you can get some inspiration for yourself.

Examples of ethos, pathos, and logos in advertisements

Thank you, mom – p&g.

Rhetoric: Pathos

P&G partnered with Wieden+Kennedy to produce the Olympics’ ad series, Thank You, Mom . And the campaign pays tribute to mothers all around the globe.

It relies on the emotions of love and happiness to showcase the dynamics of a parent-child relationship.

Flex Tape – Flex Seal

Rhetoric: Logos

Phil Swift (presenter) the CEO of Flex Seal lays out all of the necessary information about the product that will influence viewers.

The standout aspect of the ad is its over-the-top visual demonstration of how useful flex tape is in certain situations, such as being able to patch anything–even underwater!

Believe in a Better Way – Laughing Man Coffee

Rhetoric: Ethos

Laughing Man Coffee was co-founded by Hugh Jackman. His main idea was to give back to the coffee farming community by improving their lives.

The ad shows the brand’s credibility and highlights the farms of Colombia where most of Laughing Man Coffee is produced. The profits are invested back to provide aid to the farmers.

Wiener Stampede – Heinz

David ad agency created Wiener Stampede for Heinz and it debuted at Super Bowl 50.

Seeing dachshunds dressed as hot dogs fast approaching their owners who in turn are dressed as Heinz ketchup bottles is just… wild yet heart-warming.

Featuring happy pets in your ads will always evoke fuzzy feelings of happiness and joy.

This is why Wiener Stampede ranked first among consumers for purchasing intentions.

Read more: Understanding the Role of Pathos in Advertising  

Versatile Stain Remover – OxiClean

Billy Mays pitches OxiClean’s multipurpose stain remover by cleaning different products to exhibit its quality and practicality.

He became a household name during the 90s for infomercials, and it was reported that he and his business partner generated over $1 billion in sales.

A Mission for Our Oceans – Adidas x Parley

Adidas collaborated with Parley and ultramarathon runner Timothy Olson to bring awareness to how plastic waste is impacting oceans, ecosystems, and coastal communities.

This ad is a promo for the series that shows how Adidas is reusing plastic waste to create new shoes for athletes to bring credibility to their new cause.

To date, the German sportswear giant has recruited over eight million runners and has raised over $2.5 million in funds for Parley’s initiatives

Friends Furever – Android

Friends Furever was created by Droga5 for Android.

When strangers become friends, especially the furry ones, it may catch you by surprise. It can also melt your heart with delight.

Showing unlikely friendships among animals worked really well for Android. It became the most-watched ad when it aired.

BluBlocker Sunglasses – Joe Sugarman

Joe Sugarman founded BluBlocker Sunglasses in 1986. He’s also a celebrated copywriter in adland. His direct marketing techniques earned him the prestigious Maxwell Sackheim award.

This infomercial features his interview and testimonials from different clients highlighting the utilities of wearing BluBlocker sunglasses.

d-CON Spray – d-CON Spray

Everyone gets creeped out by cockroaches, and that also includes the greatest boxer of all time, Muhammad Ali.

Muhammad Ali sheds a light on how d-CON spray can clear out a room full of cockroaches.

Combination of modes of persuasion in advertisements

Depending on your end goal, you can use more than one rhetoric in your ads. There are quite a few examples of brands that have done this well. Let’s take a look.

I Can Do Better – Gatorade

Rhetoric: Pathos and Ethos

This ad is a modern take on the Anything You Can Do commercial that featured Michael Jordan and Mia Hamm.

Usain Bolt and Abby Wambach constantly try to one-up each other in different drills through humorous content.

Featuring the fastest man on earth along with a two-time Olympic gold medalist chugging Gatorade Zero builds the credibility of the energy drink.

The Man Your Man Could Smell Like – Old Spice

Rhetoric: Pathos and Logos

Old Spice teamed up with Wieden+Kennedy to produce this commercial.

Sometimes, showing off the attributes of your products using humor and drama is memorable for the audience.

Theatrics, acting, and script, if done well, can work wonders for your advertisement.

This ad nailed it and bagged a Primetime Emmy Award. It’s also been parodied in many films and series.

George Foreman Grill – George Foreman Grill

Rhetoric: Pathos, Logos, and Ethos

You rarely see commercials that are a triple threat. We can expect no less from a charming man like George Foreman who uses humor to demonstrate the credibility and key aspects of his grill.

Modes of persuasion

Final thoughts

Now that you know about the three modes of persuasion and how they’re used in ads, it is time to understand what will work best for your business.

To figure out which direction you can go in, you’ll need to define your campaign objective and understand your audience. If you’d like to work with a professional video agency to brainstorm ideas for your next compelling video, get in touch. We’d love to help.

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How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Essay–Examples & Template

rhetorical analysis of an advertisement example

What is a Rhetorical Analysis Essay?

A rhetorical analysis essay is, as the name suggests, an analysis of someone else’s writing (or speech, or advert, or even cartoon) and how they use not only words but also rhetorical techniques to influence their audience in a certain way. A rhetorical analysis is less interested in what the author is saying and more in how they present it, what effect this has on their readers, whether they achieve their goals, and what approach they use to get there. 

Its structure is similar to that of most essays: An Introduction presents your thesis, a Body analyzes the text you have chosen, breaks it down into sections and explains how arguments have been constructed and how each part persuades, informs, or entertains the reader, and a Conclusion section sums up your evaluation. 

Note that your personal opinion on the matter is not relevant for your analysis and that you don’t state anywhere in your essay whether you agree or disagree with the stance the author takes.

In the following, we will define the key rhetorical concepts you need to write a good rhetorical analysis and give you some practical tips on where to start.

Key Rhetorical Concepts

Your goal when writing a rhetorical analysis is to think about and then carefully describe how the author has designed their text so that it has the intended effect on their audience. To do that, you need to consider a number of key rhetorical strategies: Rhetorical appeals (“Ethos”, “Logos”, and “Pathos”), context, as well as claims, supports, and warrants.

Ethos, Logos, and Pathos were introduced by Aristotle, way back in the 4th century BC, as the main ways in which language can be used to persuade an audience. They still represent the basis of any rhetorical analysis and are often referred to as the “rhetorical triangle”. 

These and other rhetorical techniques can all be combined to create the intended effect, and your job as the one analyzing a text is to break the writer’s arguments down and identify the concepts they are based on.

Rhetorical Appeals

Rhetorical appeal #1: ethos.

Ethos refers to the reputation or authority of the writer regarding the topic of their essay or speech and to how they use this to appeal to their audience. Just like we are more likely to buy a product from a brand or vendor we have confidence in than one we don’t know or have reason to distrust, Ethos-driven texts or speeches rely on the reputation of the author to persuade the reader or listener. When you analyze an essay, you should therefore look at how the writer establishes Ethos through rhetorical devices.

Does the author present themselves as an authority on their subject? If so, how? 

Do they highlight how impeccable their own behavior is to make a moral argument? 

Do they present themselves as an expert by listing their qualifications or experience to convince the reader of their opinion on something?

Rhetorical appeal #2: Pathos

The purpose of Pathos-driven rhetoric is to appeal to the reader’s emotions. A common example of pathos as a rhetorical means is adverts by charities that try to make you donate money to a “good cause”. To evoke the intended emotions in the reader, an author may use passionate language, tell personal stories, and employ vivid imagery so that the reader can imagine themselves in a certain situation and feel empathy with or anger towards others.

Rhetorical appeal #3: Logos

Logos, the “logical” appeal, uses reason to persuade. Reason and logic, supported by data, evidence, clearly defined methodology, and well-constructed arguments, are what most academic writing is based on. Emotions, those of the researcher/writer as well as those of the reader, should stay out of such academic texts, as should anyone’s reputation, beliefs, or personal opinions. 

Text and Context

To analyze a piece of writing, a speech, an advertisement, or even a satirical drawing, you need to look beyond the piece of communication and take the context in which it was created and/or published into account. 

Who is the person who wrote the text/drew the cartoon/designed the ad..? What audience are they trying to reach? Where was the piece published and what was happening there around that time? 

A political speech, for example, can be powerful even when read decades later, but the historical context surrounding it is an important aspect of the effect it was intended to have. 

Claims, Supports, and Warrants

To make any kind of argument, a writer needs to put forward specific claims, support them with data or evidence or even a moral or emotional appeal, and connect the dots logically so that the reader can follow along and agree with the points made.

The connections between statements, so-called “warrants”, follow logical reasoning but are not always clearly stated—the author simply assumes the reader understands the underlying logic, whether they present it “explicitly” or “implicitly”. Implicit warrants are commonly used in advertisements where seemingly happy people use certain products, wear certain clothes, accessories, or perfumes, or live certain lifestyles – with the connotation that, first, the product/perfume/lifestyle is what makes that person happy and, second, the reader wants to be as happy as the person in the ad. Some warrants are never clearly stated, and your job when writing a rhetorical analysis essay is therefore to identify them and bring them to light, to evaluate their validity, their effect on the reader, and the use of such means by the writer/creator. 

bust of plato the philosopher, rhetorical analysis essay

What are the Five Rhetorical Situations?

A “rhetorical situation” refers to the circumstance behind a text or other piece of communication that arises from a given context. It explains why a rhetorical piece was created, what its purpose is, and how it was constructed to achieve its aims.

Rhetorical situations can be classified into the following five categories:

Asking such questions when you analyze a text will help you identify all the aspects that play a role in the effect it has on its audience, and will allow you to evaluate whether it achieved its aims or where it may have failed to do so.

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Outline

Analyzing someone else’s work can seem like a big task, but as with every assignment or writing endeavor, you can break it down into smaller, well-defined steps that give you a practical structure to follow. 

To give you an example of how the different parts of your text may look when it’s finished, we will provide you with some excerpts from this rhetorical analysis essay example (which even includes helpful comments) published on the Online Writing Lab website of Excelsior University in Albany, NY. The text that this essay analyzes is this article on why one should or shouldn’t buy an Ipad. If you want more examples so that you can build your own rhetorical analysis template, have a look at this essay on Nabokov’s Lolita and the one provided here about the “Shitty First Drafts” chapter of Anne Lamott’s writing instruction book “Bird by Bird”.

Analyzing the Text

When writing a rhetorical analysis, you don’t choose the concepts or key points you think are relevant or want to address. Rather, you carefully read the text several times asking yourself questions like those listed in the last section on rhetorical situations to identify how the text “works” and how it was written to achieve that effect.

Start with focusing on the author : What do you think was their purpose for writing the text? Do they make one principal claim and then elaborate on that? Or do they discuss different topics? 

Then look at what audience they are talking to: Do they want to make a group of people take some action? Vote for someone? Donate money to a good cause? Who are these people? Is the text reaching this specific audience? Why or why not?

What tone is the author using to address their audience? Are they trying to evoke sympathy? Stir up anger? Are they writing from a personal perspective? Are they painting themselves as an authority on the topic? Are they using academic or informal language?

How does the author support their claims ? What kind of evidence are they presenting? Are they providing explicit or implicit warrants? Are these warrants valid or problematic? Is the provided evidence convincing?  

Asking yourself such questions will help you identify what rhetorical devices a text uses and how well they are put together to achieve a certain aim. Remember, your own opinion and whether you agree with the author are not the point of a rhetorical analysis essay – your task is simply to take the text apart and evaluate it.

If you are still confused about how to write a rhetorical analysis essay, just follow the steps outlined below to write the different parts of your rhetorical analysis: As every other essay, it consists of an Introduction , a Body (the actual analysis), and a Conclusion .

Rhetorical Analysis Introduction

The Introduction section briefly presents the topic of the essay you are analyzing, the author, their main claims, a short summary of the work by you, and your thesis statement . 

Tell the reader what the text you are going to analyze represents (e.g., historically) or why it is relevant (e.g., because it has become some kind of reference for how something is done). Describe what the author claims, asserts, or implies and what techniques they use to make their argument and persuade their audience. Finish off with your thesis statement that prepares the reader for what you are going to present in the next section – do you think that the author’s assumptions/claims/arguments were presented in a logical/appealing/powerful way and reached their audience as intended?

Have a look at an excerpt from the sample essay linked above to see what a rhetorical analysis introduction can look like. See how it introduces the author and article , the context in which it originally appeared , the main claims the author makes , and how this first paragraph ends in a clear thesis statement that the essay will then elaborate on in the following Body section:

Cory Doctorow ’s article on BoingBoing is an older review of the iPad , one of Apple’s most famous products. At the time of this article, however, the iPad was simply the latest Apple product to hit the market and was not yet so popular. Doctorow’s entire career has been entrenched in and around technology. He got his start as a CD-ROM programmer and is now a successful blogger and author. He is currently the co-editor of the BoingBoing blog on which this article was posted. One of his main points in this article comes from Doctorow’s passionate advocacy of free digital media sharing. He argues that the iPad is just another way for established technology companies to control our technological freedom and creativity . In “ Why I Won’t Buy an iPad (and Think You Shouldn’t, Either) ” published on Boing Boing in April of 2010, Cory Doctorow successfully uses his experience with technology, facts about the company Apple, and appeals to consumer needs to convince potential iPad buyers that Apple and its products, specifically the iPad, limit the digital rights of those who use them by controlling and mainstreaming the content that can be used and created on the device . 

Doing the Rhetorical Analysis

The main part of your analysis is the Body , where you dissect the text in detail. Explain what methods the author uses to inform, entertain, and/or persuade the audience. Use Aristotle’s rhetorical triangle and the other key concepts we introduced above. Use quotations from the essay to demonstrate what you mean. Work out why the writer used a certain approach and evaluate (and again, demonstrate using the text itself) how successful they were. Evaluate the effect of each rhetorical technique you identify on the audience and judge whether the effect is in line with the author’s intentions.

To make it easy for the reader to follow your thought process, divide this part of your essay into paragraphs that each focus on one strategy or one concept , and make sure they are all necessary and contribute to the development of your argument(s).

One paragraph of this section of your essay could, for example, look like this:

One example of Doctorow’s position is his comparison of Apple’s iStore to Wal-Mart. This is an appeal to the consumer’s logic—or an appeal to logos. Doctorow wants the reader to take his comparison and consider how an all-powerful corporation like the iStore will affect them. An iPad will only allow for apps and programs purchased through the iStore to be run on it; therefore, a customer must not only purchase an iPad but also any programs he or she wishes to use. Customers cannot create their own programs or modify the hardware in any way. 

As you can see, the author of this sample essay identifies and then explains to the reader how Doctorow uses the concept of Logos to appeal to his readers – not just by pointing out that he does it but by dissecting how it is done.

Rhetorical Analysis Conclusion

The conclusion section of your analysis should restate your main arguments and emphasize once more whether you think the author achieved their goal. Note that this is not the place to introduce new information—only rely on the points you have discussed in the body of your essay. End with a statement that sums up the impact the text has on its audience and maybe society as a whole:

Overall, Doctorow makes a good argument about why there are potentially many better things to drop a great deal of money on instead of the iPad. He gives some valuable information and facts that consumers should take into consideration before going out to purchase the new device. He clearly uses rhetorical tools to help make his case, and, overall, he is effective as a writer, even if, ultimately, he was ineffective in convincing the world not to buy an iPad . 

Frequently Asked Questions about Rhetorical Analysis Essays 

What is a rhetorical analysis essay.

A rhetorical analysis dissects a text or another piece of communication to work out and explain how it impacts its audience, how successfully it achieves its aims, and what rhetorical devices it uses to do that. 

While argumentative essays usually take a stance on a certain topic and argue for it, a rhetorical analysis identifies how someone else constructs their arguments and supports their claims.

What is the correct rhetorical analysis essay format?

Like most other essays, a rhetorical analysis contains an Introduction that presents the thesis statement, a Body that analyzes the piece of communication, explains how arguments have been constructed, and illustrates how each part persuades, informs, or entertains the reader, and a Conclusion section that summarizes the results of the analysis. 

What is the “rhetorical triangle”?

The rhetorical triangle was introduced by Aristotle as the main ways in which language can be used to persuade an audience: Logos appeals to the audience’s reason, Ethos to the writer’s status or authority, and Pathos to the reader’s emotions. Logos, Ethos, and Pathos can all be combined to create the intended effect, and your job as the one analyzing a text is to break the writer’s arguments down and identify what specific concepts each is based on.

Let Wordvice help you write a flawless rhetorical analysis essay! 

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Visual Rhetoric: Analyzing Visual Documents

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This resource covers how to write a rhetorical analysis essay of primarily visual texts with a focus on demonstrating the author’s understanding of the rhetorical situation and design principles.

Definition and Goals of Visual/Rhetorical Analysis

A visual document communicates primarily through images or the interaction of image and text. Just as writers choose their words and organize their thoughts based on any number of rhetorical considerations, the author of such visual documents thinks no differently. Whether assembling an advertisement, laying out a pamphlet, taking a photograph, or marking up a website, designers take great care to ensure that their productions are visually appealing and rhetorically effective.

The goal of any rhetorical analysis is to demonstrate your understanding of how the piece communicates its messages and meanings. One way of looking at this process is that you are breaking the piece down into parts. By understanding how the different parts work, you can offer insights as to the overall persuasive strategies of the piece. Often you are not looking to place a value judgment on the piece, and if there is an implicit or implied argument you may not be ultimately taking a side.

It’s worth asking then: is rhetorical analysis of visual documents any different than this basic description? Yes and no. Sometimes you will encounter an interplay of words and images, which may complicate the number of rhetorical devices in play. Additionally, traditional schooling has emphasized analysis of certain texts for a long time. Many of us are not so accustomed to giving visual documents the same kind of rigorous attention.

We now live in such a visually-dominated culture, that it is possible you have already internalized many of the techniques involved with visual communication (for example, every time you justify the text of your document or use standard margins, you are technically using visual rhetoric).

That said, writing a rhetorical analysis is often a process of merely finding the language to communicate this knowledge. Other times you may find that looking at a document from a rhetorical design perspective will allow you to view it in new and interesting ways.

Like you would in a book report or poetry analysis, you are offering your “reading” of the visual document and should seek to be clear, concise, and informative. Do not only give a re-telling of what the images look like (this would be the equivalent of stopping at plot summary if you were analyzing a novel). Offer your examples, explain the rhetorical strategies at work, and keep your focus on how the document communicates visually.

Resources: Discussions and Assignments

Module 8 discussion: ad rhetorical analysis.

A rhetorical analysis requires taking a closer look at the persuasiveness of a message. In this discussion forum, you will find an advertisement of any sort—a video, print, or radio ad—and complete a critical analysis.

STEP 1 : Post a link to the advertisement you’ve selected. Analyze its effectiveness by first answering the following questions:

  • What is the purpose of the ad?
  • What is the argument of the ad?
  • Who is the “author” of the ad?
  • Who is the intended audience for the ad?
  • What is the tone of the ad?
  • What is the style and tone of the ad?
  • What kind of supporting appeals, evidence, or examples does this ad use or rely on?

Write a summary paragraph about why you believe the ad is effective or ineffective. This paragraph should include a  claim  (whether or not you think it is effective),  evidence,  as demonstrated in the ad, and  support  for that evidence (as explained in the reading on critical analysis from the module).

STEP 2 : Respond in two separate posts to two classmates (in at least 75 words). Explicitly address their examples and try to extend, complicate, or redirect their points in a substantive, knowledge-demonstrating way.

  • Discussion: Advertisement Rhetorical Analysis. Provided by : Lumen Learning. License : CC BY: Attribution

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rhetorical analysis of an advertisement example

Mozart, Mike. "Smellcome to Manhood." JeepersMedia. Flickr. 2 Oct 2014. Web. < ">https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeepersmedia/12462069883/sizes/m/> .

The aim of this lesson is to provide students with an accessible and engaging introduction to rhetorical analysis. Students will view four brief texts—three thirty-second videos and one print advertisement—and try to identify the audience, the speaker, and the argument contained in each.

  • Introduce rhetorical analysis to students
  • Offer a broad illustration of the scope of rhetoric and rhetorical analysis
  • Familiarize students with initial components of rhetorical analysis (audience, speaker, argument)
  • Help students feel comfortable offering their own analyses
  • Media console with overhead projector
  • Class computer with internet connection
  • Preferable, but not essential: personal computers for brief individual research activity.

This lesson is intended to provide a light, engaging, and accessible introduction to rhetorical analysis. Students will survey several contemporary advertisements that vary in a number of ways yet share some broad themes. The order of the texts is intended to subtly help the students progress from basic to more nuanced analyses.

The first moments of this class are open to suit the needs of the instructor. If this is the first day that students will be performing rhetorical analysis, it may be helpful to provide a brief overview of what is to come. 

To begin the analytical portion of the class, play the first text— an Old Spice commercial from the 2010 "Smell Like a Man, Man" campaign. The commercial is both fun and funny, thus students should respond well to it. Moreover, its fast pace and quirky tone will likely get students laughing, which will hopefully loosen them up for analysis.

Once you have played the video, ask the following questions:

  • Who is the speaker?
  • Who is the audience?
  • What is the situation?
  • What is the argument?

What does the text want you to feel?

What does the text want you to believe?

What does the text want you to do?

  • How is the text making that argument? 

Be sure to draw out detailed responses from the students. Play the video again, as needed. One reason this ad is great for an initial analysis is because it has two different speakers (i.e., the spokesman and the company), two different audiences (i.e., implicit and explicit), and plenty of components that students can draw on to support their answers to the argument questions.

Next, play the second and third videos. Each of these are 2008 advertisements from the Corn Refiner Association's "Sweet Surprise" campaign about high fructose corn syrup. Ask students the same series of questions, and encourage them to pay even closer attention to the details that help create this argument. 

Once you feel that your students have adequately analyzed the argument in these two texts, have students go to the website featured at the end of the videos. If students don't have computers, do this together as a class. By this point, hopefully students will have mentioned that the text wants you to go to this website, so this can be a way of getting them to further test the text. Once there, have students try to identify any bias on the website and ask them to list specific examples. This is meant to encourage students to closely examine sources and to consider how word choice and other stylistic choices shape an argument.

If time permits, have students look at one more text— a 2014 print ad from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority . In the ad, one woman remarks about new public transportation changes and another woman responds, "Can't we just talk about shoes?" There are several broad parallels between this text and the former texts, so students should feel comfortable by now analyzing this form of visual rhetoric.

Given the brevity of both these texts and the follow-up questions, it would be a good idea to thoroughly familiarize yourself with each text before presenting them to the class. With this being an introduction to rhetorical analysis, students may feel shy about offering responses, so being prepared with many different ways to prompt their analyses can be helpful.

For the group analysis portion of the class:

Answer the following the questions. Cite evidence to support your response.

For the individual research portion of the class:

  • Go to http://www.sweetsurprise.com
  • Can you identify any bias?
  • Cite specific examples to support your response.

There is no evaluative component to this activity.

This lesson plan was designed for "Rhetoric and Writing", an introductory course.

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Rhetorical Analysis Essay

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example

Nova A.

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example - Free Samples

11 min read

Published on: Apr 4, 2018

Last updated on: Nov 23, 2023

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example

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Writing a rhetorical analysis essay for academics can be really demanding for students. This type of paper requires high-level analyzing abilities and professional writing skills to be drafted effectively.

As this essay persuades the audience, it is essential to know how to take a strong stance and develop a thesis. 

This article will find some examples that will help you with your rhetorical analysis essay writing effortlessly. 

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Good Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example

The step-by-step writing process of a rhetorical analysis essay is far more complicated than ordinary academic essays. This essay type critically analyzes the rhetorical means used to persuade the audience and their efficiency. 

The example provided below is the best rhetorical analysis essay example:

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Sample

In this essay type, the author uses rhetorical approaches such as ethos, pathos, and logos .  These approaches are then studied and analyzed deeply by the essay writers to weigh their effectiveness in delivering the message.

Let’s take a look at the following example to get a better idea;

The outline and structure of a rhetorical analysis essay are important. 

According to the essay outline, the essay is divided into three sections: 

  • Introduction
  • Ethos 
  • Logos 

A rhetorical analysis essay outline is the same as the traditional one. The different parts of the rhetorical analysis essay are written in the following way:

Rhetorical Analysis Introduction Example

The introductory paragraph of a rhetorical analysis essay is written for the following purpose:

  • To provide basic background information about the chosen author and the text.
  • Identify the target audience of the essay. 

An introduction for a rhetorical essay is drafted by:

  • Stating an opening sentence known as the hook statement. This catchy sentence is prepared to grab the audience’s attention to the paper. 
  • After the opening sentence, the background information of the author and the original text are provided. 

For example, a rhetorical analysis essay written by Lee Jennings on“The Right Stuff” by David Suzuki. Lee started the essay by providing the introduction in the following way:

Analysis of the Example: 

  • Suzuki stresses the importance of high school education. He prepares his readers for a proposal to make that education as valuable as possible.
  • A rhetorical analysis can show how successful Suzuki was in using logos, pathos, and ethos. He had a strong ethos because of his reputation. 
  • He also used pathos to appeal to parents and educators. However, his use of logos could have been more successful.
  • Here Jennings stated the background information about the text and highlighted the rhetorical techniques used and their effectiveness. 

Thesis Statement Example for Rhetorical Analysis Essay 

A thesis statement of a rhetorical analysis essay is the writer’s stance on the original text. It is the argument that a writer holds and proves it using the evidence from the original text. 

A thesis statement for a rhetorical essay is written by analyzing the following elements of the original text:

  • Diction - It refers to the author’s choice of words and the tone
  • Imagery - The visual descriptive language that the author used in the content. 
  • Simile - The comparison of things and ideas

In Jennings's analysis of “The Right Stuff,” the thesis statement was:

Example For Rhetorical Analysis Thesis Statement

Rhetorical Analysis Body Paragraph Example 

In the body paragraphs of your rhetorical analysis essay, you dissect the author's work, analyze their use of rhetorical techniques, and provide evidence to support your analysis. 

Let's look at an example that analyzes the use of ethos in David Suzuki's essay:

Rhetorical Analysis Conclusion Example

All the body paragraphs lead the audience towards the conclusion.

For example, the conclusion of “The Right Stuff” is written in the following way by Jennings:

In the conclusion section, Jennings summarized the major points and restated the thesis statement to prove them. 

Rhetorical Essay Example For The Right Stuff by David Suzuki

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example AP Lang 2023

Writing a rhetorical analysis for the AP Language and Composition course can be challenging. So drafting it correctly is important to earn good grades. 

To make your essay effective and winning, follow the tips provided by professionals below:

Step #1: Understand the Prompt

Understanding the prompt is the first thing to produce an influential rhetorical paper. It is mandatory for this academic writing to read and understand the prompt to know what the task demands from you. 

Step #2: Stick to the Format

The content for the rhetorical analysis should be appropriately organized and structured. For this purpose, a proper outline is drafted. 

The rhetorical analysis essay outline divides all the information into different sections, such as the introduction, body, and conclusion.  The introduction should explicitly state the background information and the thesis statement. 

All the body paragraphs should start with a topic sentence to convey a claim to the readers. Provide a thorough analysis of these claims in the paragraph to support your topic sentence. 

Step #3: Use Rhetorical Elements to Form an Argument 

Analyze the following things in the text to form an argument for your essay:

  • Language (tone and words)
  • Organizational structure
  • Rhetorical Appeals ( ethos, pathos, and logos) 

Once you have analyzed the rhetorical appeals and other devices like imagery and diction, you can form a strong thesis statement. The thesis statement will be the foundation on which your essay will be standing. 

AP Language Rhetorical Essay Sample

AP Rhetorical Analysis Essay Template

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example AP Lang

AP Lang Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Examples for Students 

Here are a few more examples to help the students write a rhetorical analysis essay:

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example Ethos, Pathos, Logos

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example Outline

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example College

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example APA Format

Compare and Contrast Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example

Comparative Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example

How to Start Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example High School

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example APA Sample

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example Of a Song

Florence Kelley Speech Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example MLA

Writing a Visual Rhetorical Analysis Essay with Example 

The visual rhetorical analysis essay determines how pictures and images communicate messages and persuade the audience. 

Usually, visual rhetorical analysis papers are written for advertisements. This is because they use strong images to convince the audience to behave in a certain way. 

To draft a perfect visual rhetorical analysis essay, follow the tips below:

  • Analyze the advertisement deeply and note every minor detail. 
  • Notice objects and colors used in the image to gather every detail.
  • Determine the importance of the colors and objects and analyze why the advertiser chose the particular picture. 
  • See what you feel about the image.
  • Consider the objective of the image. Identify the message that the image is portraying. 
  • Identify the targeted audience and how they respond to the picture. 

An example is provided below to give students a better idea of the concept. 

Simplicity Breeds Clarity Visual Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Writing Tips

Follow the tips provided below to make your rhetorical writing compelling. 

  • Choose an engaging topic for your essay. The rhetorical analysis essay topic should be engaging to grab the reader’s attention.
  • Thoroughly read the original text.
  • Identify the SOAPSTone. From the text, determine the speaker, occasions, audience, purpose, subject, and tone.
  • Develop a thesis statement to state your claim over the text.
  • Draft a rhetorical analysis essay outline.
  • Write an engaging essay introduction by giving a hook statement and background information. At the end of the introductory paragraph, state the thesis statement.
  • The body paragraphs of the rhetorical essay should have a topic sentence. Also, in the paragraph, a thorough analysis should be presented.
  • For writing a satisfactory rhetorical essay conclusion, restate the thesis statement and summarize the main points.
  • Proofread your essay to check for mistakes in the content. Make your edits before submitting the draft.

Following the tips and the essay's correct writing procedure will guarantee success in your academics. 

We have given you plenty of examples of a rhetorical analysis essay. But if you are still struggling to draft a great rhetorical analysis essay, it is suggested to take a professional’s help.

MyPerfectWords.com can assist you with all your academic assignments. The top essay writer service that we provide is reliable. If you are confused about your writing assignments and have difficulty meeting the deadline, get help from the  legal essay writing service .

Hire our  analytical essay writing service  today at the most reasonable prices. 

Nova A. (Literature, Marketing)

Nova Allison is a Digital Content Strategist with over eight years of experience. Nova has also worked as a technical and scientific writer. She is majorly involved in developing and reviewing online content plans that engage and resonate with audiences. Nova has a passion for writing that engages and informs her readers.

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Rhetorical Analysis Definition and Examples

The analysis can be used on any communication, even a bumper sticker

  • An Introduction to Punctuation

Sample Rhetorical Analyses

Examples and observations, analyzing effects, analyzing greeting card verse, analyzing starbucks, rhetorical analysis vs. literary criticism.

  • Ph.D., Rhetoric and English, University of Georgia
  • M.A., Modern English and American Literature, University of Leicester
  • B.A., English, State University of New York

Rhetorical analysis is a form of criticism or close reading that employs the principles of rhetoric to examine the interactions between a text, an author, and an audience . It's also called rhetorical criticism or pragmatic criticism.

Rhetorical analysis may be applied to virtually any text or image—a speech , an essay , an advertisement, a poem, a photograph, a web page, even a bumper sticker. When applied to a literary work, rhetorical analysis regards the work not as an aesthetic object but as an artistically structured instrument for communication. As Edward P.J. Corbett has observed, rhetorical analysis "is more interested in a literary work for what it does than for what it is."

  • A Rhetorical Analysis of Claude McKay's "Africa"
  • A Rhetorical Analysis of E.B. White's "The Ring of Time"
  • A Rhetorical Analysis of U2's "Sunday Bloody Sunday"
  • "Our response to the character of the author—whether it is called ethos, or 'implied author,' or style , or even tone—is part of our experience of his work, an experience of the voice within the masks, personae , of the work...Rhetorical criticism intensifies our sense of the dynamic relationships between the author as a real person and the more or less fictive person implied by the work." (Thomas O. Sloan, "Restoration of Rhetoric to Literary Study." The Speech Teacher )
  • "[R]hetorical criticism is a mode of analysis that focuses on the text itself. In that respect, it is like the practical criticism that the New Critics and the Chicago School indulge in. It is unlike these modes of criticism in that it does not remain inside the literary work but works outward from the text to considerations of the author and the audience...In talking about the ethical appeal in his 'Rhetoric,' Aristotle made the point that although a speaker may come before an audience with a certain antecedent reputation, his ethical appeal is exerted primarily by what he says in that particular speech before that particular audience. Likewise, in rhetorical criticism, we gain our impression of the author from what we can glean from the text itself—from looking at such things as his ideas and attitudes, his stance, his tone, his style. This reading back to the author is not the same sort of thing as the attempt to reconstruct the biography of a writer from his literary work. Rhetorical criticism seeks simply to ascertain the particular posture or image that the author is establishing in this particular work in order to produce a particular effect on a particular audience." (Edward P.J. Corbett, "Introduction" to " Rhetorical Analyses of Literary Works ")

"[A] complete   rhetorical analysis requires the researcher to move beyond identifying and labeling in that creating an inventory of the parts of a text represents only the starting point of the analyst's work. From the earliest examples of rhetorical analysis to the present, this analytical work has involved the analyst in interpreting the meaning of these textual components—both in isolation and in combination—for the person (or people) experiencing the text. This highly interpretive aspect of rhetorical analysis requires the analyst to address the effects of the different identified textual elements on the perception of the person experiencing the text. So, for example, the analyst might say that the presence of feature x will condition the reception of the text in a particular way. Most texts, of course, include multiple features, so this analytical work involves addressing the cumulative effects of the selected combination of features in the text." (Mark Zachry, "Rhetorical Analysis" from " The Handbook of Business Discourse , " Francesca Bargiela-Chiappini, editor)

"Perhaps the most pervasive type of repeated-word sentence used in greeting card verse is the sentence in which a word or group of words is repeated anywhere within the sentence, as in the following example:

In quiet and thoughtful ways , in happy and fun ways , all ways , and always , I love you.

In this sentence, the word ways is repeated at the end of two successive phrases, picked up again at the beginning of the next phrase, and then repeated as part of the word always . Similarly, the root word all initially appears in the phrase 'all ways' and is then repeated in a slightly different form in the homophonic word always . The movement is from the particular ('quiet and thoughtful ways,' 'happy and fun ways'), to the general ('all ways'), to the hyperbolic ('always')." (Frank D'Angelo, "The Rhetoric of Sentimental Greeting Card Verse." Rhetoric Review )

"Starbucks not just as an institution or as a set of verbal discourses or even advertising but as a material and physical site is deeply rhetorical...Starbucks weaves us directly into the cultural conditions of which it is constitutive. The color of the logo, the performative practices of ordering, making, and drinking the coffee, the conversations around the tables, and the whole host of other materialities and performances of/in Starbucks are at once the rhetorical claims and the enactment of the rhetorical action urged. In short, Starbucks draws together the tripartite relationships among place, body, and subjectivity. As a material/rhetorical place, Starbucks addresses and is the very site of a comforting and discomforting negotiation of these relationships." (Greg Dickinson, "Joe's Rhetoric: Finding Authenticity at Starbucks." Rhetoric Society Quarterly )

"What essentially are the differences between literary criticism analysis and rhetorical analysis? When a critic explicates Ezra Pound's Canto XLV , for example, and shows how Pound inveighs against usury as an offense against nature that corrupts society and the arts, the critic must point out the 'evidence'—the 'artistic proofs' of example and enthymeme [a formal syllogistic argument that is incompletely stated}—that Pound has drawn upon for his fulmination. The critic will also call attention to the 'arrangement' of the parts of that argument as a feature of the 'form' of the poem just as he may inquire into the language and syntax. Again these are matters that Aristotle assigned mainly to rhetoric...

"All critical essays dealing with the persona of a literary work are in reality studies of the 'Ethos' of the 'speaker' or 'narrator'—the voice—source of the rhythmic language which attracts and holds the kind of readers the poet desires as his audience, and the means this persona consciously or unconsciously chooses, in Kenneth Burke's term, to 'woo' that reader-audience." (Alexander Scharbach, "Rhetoric and Literary Criticism: Why Their Separation." College Composition and Communication )

  • Audience Analysis in Speech and Composition
  • Definition and Examples of Ethos in Classical Rhetoric
  • A Rhetorical Analysis of U2's 'Sunday Bloody Sunday'
  • Invented Ethos (Rhetoric)
  • Rhetoric: Definitions and Observations
  • Feminist Literary Criticism
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  • Enthymeme - Definition and Examples
  • Use Social Media to Teach Ethos, Pathos and Logos
  • Persuasion and Rhetorical Definition
  • Pathos in Rhetoric
  • Definition and Examples of Rhetorical Stance
  • Definition and Examples of Analysis in Composition
  • The 10 Best Literary Theory and Criticism Books

Rhetorical Analysis of Nike “Want It All” Advertisement

Abhijeet Pratap

  • December 22, 2017

Rhetorical Analysis of ‘Want It all’ Advertisement by Nike 

Ads are created to affect. However, few of them make their mark and are effective as expected. It is because to persuade your audience can be difficult. Only if your ad has the right appeal, it will reach its target. For a strong appeal, ads use rhetoric whose appeal can be strong or weak. A good advertisement has a strong rhetorical appeal. It has ethos, pathos and logos. Apart from being appealing to the eyes, ads must also appeal to the other senses. Effective ads connect with the hearts of the audience. They do not just use logos or the logical appeal but also ethos and pathos. Nike is known to have made some of the most interesting ads whose theme is mostly energy, courage and dreams. These ads are designed to appeal to people interested in sports. However, they appeal to a broader target audience and the reason is their use of creativity and imagination. Nike advertisements even if they primarily target sports lovers celebrate aspirations and victory. This is why a larger audience loves them. These ads are about ambition, achievement, success and goals.

This is the analysis of a Nike ad released in 2017. Nike is a brand of sports shoes, apparel and equipment. The brand is well known around the world by its logo and brand name. The swoosh logo easily sets it apart from the competition. One among the best known brands in sports and athletic wear, Nike competes with Adidas, Under Armour and Puma . While it has built a great brand image, the brand still invests a lot in marketing and advertising. It brings special creativity to its ads so as to make them shine. Outstanding ads rely on creativity and are made to strike the right chord with the audience. This ad like most other advertisements by Nike is also based on the theme of energy and dreams. Most of the Nike ads are about pushing the line, dreaming, sweating and achieving. Sports are all about energy and courage and this fact is known to millions of sports fans all around the world. Whenever, it is an advertisement by Nike, the themes are bound to be related to courage and enthusiasm.

This  ad starts with a kid watching others play basketball. He is standing by a basketball court where some other kids – teenagers above his age – are playing. The dream sequence continues and passes through stages. From there it reaches a training court. Teenagers are practicing in the court. They are learning from a coach. In the next scene, the kid has grown up. He is watching basketball on TV and dribbling inside his room. His mother cries from another room to stop dribbling. The kid keeps growing and he is a basketball player now. He is playing for his team. The dream sequence continues and shows him growing. He passes through several phases of failures and wins before he becomes a major player. At last, it shows him winning in the basketball court. The ad shows you should not stop because you will at last win. If you are unstoppable you will win.

The ad consists of all the three appeals including ethos, pathos and logos .

Ethos – It means ethical appeal or appeal to the ethics. This appeal is related to the people’s sense of ethics. The ad does not show anything unethical and gains credibility from the Nike sign. It is because Nike is a brand name that millions around the world rely upon and admire. This is how the ad strikes credibility.

Pathos – It is the appeal to emotions. The ad does have a deep emotional appeal. Every heart wants to win. However, to win, you need unending energy and you need to persevere. The ad appeals to the emotions by showing that every young heart has dreams and it aspires to reach its dream. Emotions are there inside every heart. The kid in the ad just symbolises the dreams nestled in the hearts of all basketball fans. These emotions lend us strength and then perseverance and regular practice helps you win.

Logos – After ethos and pathos, it is the logos part that lends strength to the advertisement’s appeal. Logos is the logical part of the advertisement and the logic lies not just in the product but the emotions and spirit it reflects.

The logic of Nike lies in the spirit of basketball which is to never let go and to never stop. Millions of sports fans find logic in this spirit around the world. To add logic the ad stresses upon perseverance and hard work. In this way the ad is rich in terms of all the three appeals. It has ethos, pathos and logos all the three and it has also the creativity needed to strike the right chord with the sports fans. The advertisement ends at “Want it all” – or the heart aspires to achieve everything that it dreams of.

Nike is known to have made some of the world’s best ads whose aim is to inspire energy in its fans. Nike is a sports brand and its customers are mainly the athletes and sports fans. The success of the ad depends upon how much appeal it contains and Nike has done it successfully in this ad. Overall, the ad is highly effective and it does what it intends to do – to connect with the audiences. Nike is among the best of the sport shoes and apparel brands. It has a very large segment of fans and followers all around the globe. These ads help it successfully connect with its followers and to keep their imaginations engaged. High engagement level also translates into higher sales and revenue plus a strong brand image.

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12.4 Analyzing Advertisements: Descriptive Summary and Rhetorical Analysis

When we view a painting, it’s often because we’ve chosen to do so—usually by visiting a museum. Advertisements, on the other hand, enter our field of vision whether we want them to or not. In both print and digital media, advertisements swirl around us. They pop up on websites, appear in our social media feeds, fill the magazines we read, and interrupt the television shows that we watch. They’re everywhere, and because they’re such a routine part of the visual information we take in each day, it’s important to think critically about how these images are designed and for what purpose.

The Elements of Advertisements

We may not consider advertisements to be works of art, but they’re certainly created with an incredible attention to detail and to the viewer’s experience, just like the other examples of paintings and films discussed in this chapter. For that reason, you can use the same techniques for analyzing art work and movies when analyzing advertisements. For example, when analyzing a print advertisement like the one below, it would be important to observe the use of color, tone, perspective, movement, and how the various objects and individuals are arranged in relation to each other, among other elements.

“A dog makes your life happier. Adopt.”

Similarly, when analyzing a commercial, it would be important to observe not only the visual elements but the audio and narrative elements, as well. Commercials may not come close to the depth of character and plot development that films achieve, but they still tell us stories, often quite effectively. (Keep in mind that plenty of people watch the Super Bowl not for the football game but for the especially entertaining commercial breaks.)

The Rhetoric of Advertisements

The reason that ads are created with such care is because, like any image, they are designed to produce effects. Like a painting, they might lead us to reflect on our identity, our culture, or our values. Like a film, they might elicit our emotions or give us a unique narrative experience. Of course, we all know the primary effect that advertisers hope their advertisements will have. Advertisements are meant to persuade us: to spend money, to use products, and to support candidates or causes, among other possibilities. One could argue that all images are persuasive in one way or another, but advertisements are explicitly so. They want something from us, and they’re not shy about asking for it. Consider the example below.

“Liking isn’t helping.”

Because advertisements are persuasive, you can analyze the rhetoric of an ad just like you can with any other text that’s trying to support a particular claim or point of view. Doing so will help you figure out why a particular advertisement was created and whether or not you want to accept its message. The chapter on “Writing Situations” in this textbook offers more information about how to analyze the rhetorical situation of a text. When thinking about advertisements, though, it’s especially important to ask yourself about:

  • The Writer: Who created the ad? What mindset or point of view might this person, group, or organization bring to the subject matter of the ad?
  • The Purpose: What is the ad meant to do? What effect is it supposed to have on the viewer?
  • The Audience: Who are the targeted viewers of the ad? What mindset or point of view could these individuals have, and how could that affect how the ad is received?
  • The Exigence: What motivated the creation of the ad in the first place? What perceived need or larger situation is the ad responding to?

To get some practice analyzing the rhetorical situation of an advertisement, study the sample ad below. What can you determine about its writer, purpose, audience, and exigence?

Coca-Cola.

In addition to analyzing an advertisement’s rhetorical situation (who created it, for whom, and why) you can also analyze the rhetorical appeals that the ad uses in order to achieve its purpose. That is, what features of the ad make it persuasive? Again, you should refer to the chapter on “Writing Situations” in this textbook for more information about rhetorical appeals. A good place to begin, though, is to consider the use of ethos, pathos, and logos in an advertisement. You can consider:

  • Ethos: How does the advertisement establish its credibility? Is there anything about the advertisement itself (its professionalism, its quality, its tone) that persuades viewers to accept its message? Is there anything about the creators or sponsors of the advertisement (their authority, their prestige) that persuades viewers to accept its message?
  • Pathos: How does the advertisement speak to a viewer’s emotions? Does it try to make the viewer happy, angry, fearful, or distressed (among other possibilities) in order to affect the viewer’s judgment of the message?
  • Logos: How does the advertisement use logical argument and support to communicate its message? Does it make reasonable claims? Are those claims supported with sound evidence?

To get some practice analyzing the rhetorical appeals of an advertisement, study the sample ad below. What can you determine about its use of ethos, pathos, and logos to persuade the viewer?

“The choice is yours, and it’s simple.”

In many ways, analyzing the rhetoric of an advertisement is like analyzing the rhetoric of any text. It’s always important to think about the writer, purpose, audience, and exigence, as well as about rhetorical appeals like ethos, pathos, and logos. That said, there are special considerations to keep in mind when analyzing the rhetoric of an advertisement.

Advertisements are a genre quite unlike the other texts you’ll read and write about in College Composition, many of which are long-form academic essays. Advertisements are also different from the other visual genres discussed in this chapter, particularly when you think about how quickly ads are meant do their work. While we might spend an hour or more watching a film or several minutes contemplating a work of art, we usually just glance at a print advertisement or watch a few seconds of a commercial. In order to understand how an ad could possibly persuade a viewer in so short a time, we have to consider how they use features such as:

  • Brief, catchy slogans or dialogue
  • “Power words” that draw attention and elicit emotion (free, easy, exciting, delicious, etc.)
  • Attention-grabbing fonts, images, and sounds
  • Use of white space and color to quickly direct the viewer’s focus
  • Foregrounding or repetition of key words, product names, or sponsors
  • Use of name recognition or endorsement to establish authority

To get some practice analyzing how ads use these strategies, consider the sample ad below.

McDonald’s. “On your right.”

The Ideology of Advertisements

One of the most effective ways for an advertisement to persuade us is by appealing to our values and assumptions. We often support candidates and organizations whose ads support our own worldview, for instance. Similarly, we may purchase products because we believe our bodies, attitudes, and choices should resemble those of the models or spokespeople endorsing them. To fully understand how ads try to persuade us, it’s necessary to think about how they try to confirm our assumptions (or our fears) about ourselves, our culture, and our world.

Of course, even when the values and assumptions embedded in an advertisement are not part of a deliberate attempt to persuade us, it’s important to notice them and think critically about them.  Advertisements are powerful. They’re everywhere. They can be flashy, provocative, and even fun. For these reasons, advertisements can normalize some beliefs (about race, for example, or body image or gender roles) and challenge or exclude others.

The critical theories already introduced in this chapter will help you to understand how the advertisements you analyze participate in our culture’s conversations about gender, race, class, and many other topics. You can find more information about these theories in this textbook’s chapter on “Literary Theory in the College Composition Classroom.”

An example of one scholar using critical theory (in this case, gender studies) to study advertisements is The Gender Ads Project by Scott A. Lukas. This site collects and analyzes advertisements in order to understand how they influence our ideas about gender and sexuality.

To practice thinking about how ads can reveal or even shape our assumptions about gender, consider the sample advertisement below.

Gucci

Writing Exercise: Analyze an Advertisement

Use the strategies for visual analysis that you’ve learned about in this chapter to analyze the rhetoric of a print ad or commercial of your choice. Compose an analysis that:

  • Describes the advertisement using the visual and narrative elements discussed in this chapter.
  • Explains the advertisement’s rhetorical situation and use of rhetorical appeals.
  • Explains how the advertisement reflects or challenges prominent cultural ideas about gender, race, class, sexuality, disability, or any of the other cultural issues discussed in this chapter.

Continue Reading: 12.5 Analyzing Public Art: Descriptive Summary and Rhetorical Analysis

Composition for Commodores Copyright © 2023 by Mollie Chambers; Karin Hooks; Donna Hunt; Kim Karshner; Josh Kesterson; Geoff Polk; Amy Scott-Douglass; Justin Sevenker; Jewon Woo; and other LCCC Faculty is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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ENG 103: Rhetorical Analysis of a Print Ad

  • Getting Started
  • Company and Advertising Information
  • Information about the Decades
  • Citation Sources

Locating Advertisements

In order to find an advertisement you would to browse the Bound Periodicals collection on the west side of the 2nd floor.  Titles are arranged alphabetically. Here is a short list magazines with advertisements include...

Browse the collection for more examples.

Finding Articles Related to Research Topic

You may find articles related to your research question using these resources.  Search using keywords that relate to your topic and refine your search using terms that you discover by looking at the search results list.

  • Business Source Complete This link opens in a new window Good for information about your companies, advertising, advertising campaigns, etc. more... less... Description: Business Source Complete covers all disciplines of business, including marketing, management, accounting, banking, finance, and more. Time Period: 1886 to present Sources: Indexes more than 6,700 journals and magazines plus thousands of reports and other sources. Subject Headings: Art & Architecture, Business, Education, News, Social Sciences (Accounting, Finance, Management, Business Education, Banking, Economics, Marketing, Computer Science) Scholarly or Popular: Scholarly Primary Materials: Abstracts, Case Studies, Citations, Conference Papers, Journal Articles, Magazine Articles, News, Other, Report, Reviews, Trade Publications Information Included: Abstracts, Full Text, Citations FindIt@BALL STATE: Yes Print Equivalent: None Publisher: EBSCO Updates: Daily Number of Simultaneous Users: Unlimited
  • Academic Search Complete This link opens in a new window Good for all sorts of topics including advertising, psychological aspects of advertising and consumer behavior. more... less... Description: Good database for most research topics and contains lots of full text, peer reviewed articles. More than 18,000 of the journal titles indexed are peer reviewed and almost all of the full text is. Provides searchable cited references for more than 1,000 journal titles so you can easily see what sources a given article cites. Time Period: 1911 to present Sources: Indexes nearly 18,000 journals and magazine and provides full text for more than 8,700. Subject Headings: Art & Architecture, Business, Education, English & Linguistics, General, Health, History, Humanities, Law, Music, News, Philosophy & Religion, Psychology, Science, Social Sciences, Technology Scholarly or Popular: Semi-scholarly Primary Materials: Abstracts, Case Studies, Citations, Conference Papers, Images, Journal Articles, Magazine Articles, News, Other, Reviews Information Included: Abstracts,Full Text,Citations FindIt@BALL STATE: Yes Print Equivalent: None Publisher: EBSCO Updates: Daily Number of Simultaneous Users: Unlimited
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  • Last Updated: Feb 23, 2024 8:37 AM
  • URL: https://bsu.libguides.com/c.php?g=1010020
  • 9.3 Glance at Genre: Rhetorical Strategies
  • 1 Unit Introduction
  • Introduction
  • 1.1 "Reading" to Understand and Respond
  • 1.2 Social Media Trailblazer: Selena Gomez
  • 1.3 Glance at Critical Response: Rhetoric and Critical Thinking
  • 1.4 Annotated Student Sample: Social Media Post and Responses on Voter Suppression
  • 1.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically About a “Text”
  • 1.6 Evaluation: Intention vs. Execution
  • 1.7 Spotlight on … Academia
  • 1.8 Portfolio: Tracing Writing Development
  • Further Reading
  • Works Cited
  • 2.1 Seeds of Self
  • 2.2 Identity Trailblazer: Cathy Park Hong
  • 2.3 Glance at the Issues: Oppression and Reclamation
  • 2.4 Annotated Sample Reading from The Souls of Black Folk by W. E. B. Du Bois
  • 2.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically about How Identity Is Constructed Through Writing
  • 2.6 Evaluation: Antiracism and Inclusivity
  • 2.7 Spotlight on … Variations of English
  • 2.8 Portfolio: Decolonizing Self
  • 3.1 Identity and Expression
  • 3.2 Literacy Narrative Trailblazer: Tara Westover
  • 3.3 Glance at Genre: The Literacy Narrative
  • 3.4 Annotated Sample Reading: from Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass
  • 3.5 Writing Process: Tracing the Beginnings of Literacy
  • 3.6 Editing Focus: Sentence Structure
  • 3.7 Evaluation: Self-Evaluating
  • 3.8 Spotlight on … The Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives (DALN)
  • 3.9 Portfolio: A Literacy Artifact
  • Works Consulted
  • 2 Unit Introduction
  • 4.1 Exploring the Past to Understand the Present
  • 4.2 Memoir Trailblazer: Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • 4.3 Glance at Genre: Conflict, Detail, and Revelation
  • 4.4 Annotated Sample Reading: from Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain
  • 4.5 Writing Process: Making the Personal Public
  • 4.6 Editing Focus: More on Characterization and Point of View
  • 4.7 Evaluation: Structure and Organization
  • 4.8 Spotlight on … Multilingual Writers
  • 4.9 Portfolio: Filtered Memories
  • 5.1 Profiles as Inspiration
  • 5.2 Profile Trailblazer: Veronica Chambers
  • 5.3 Glance at Genre: Subject, Angle, Background, and Description
  • 5.4 Annotated Sample Reading: “Remembering John Lewis” by Carla D. Hayden
  • 5.5 Writing Process: Focusing on the Angle of Your Subject
  • 5.6 Editing Focus: Verb Tense Consistency
  • 5.7 Evaluation: Text as Personal Introduction
  • 5.8 Spotlight on … Profiling a Cultural Artifact
  • 5.9 Portfolio: Subject as a Reflection of Self
  • 6.1 Proposing Change: Thinking Critically About Problems and Solutions
  • 6.2 Proposal Trailblazer: Atul Gawande
  • 6.3 Glance at Genre: Features of Proposals
  • 6.4 Annotated Student Sample: “Slowing Climate Change” by Shawn Krukowski
  • 6.5 Writing Process: Creating a Proposal
  • 6.6 Editing Focus: Subject-Verb Agreement
  • 6.7 Evaluation: Conventions, Clarity, and Coherence
  • 6.8 Spotlight on … Technical Writing as a Career
  • 6.9 Portfolio: Reflecting on Problems and Solutions
  • 7.1 Thumbs Up or Down?
  • 7.2 Review Trailblazer: Michiko Kakutani
  • 7.3 Glance at Genre: Criteria, Evidence, Evaluation
  • 7.4 Annotated Student Sample: "Black Representation in Film" by Caelia Marshall
  • 7.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically About Entertainment
  • 7.6 Editing Focus: Quotations
  • 7.7 Evaluation: Effect on Audience
  • 7.8 Spotlight on … Language and Culture
  • 7.9 Portfolio: What the Arts Say About You
  • 8.1 Information and Critical Thinking
  • 8.2 Analytical Report Trailblazer: Barbara Ehrenreich
  • 8.3 Glance at Genre: Informal and Formal Analytical Reports
  • 8.4 Annotated Student Sample: "U.S. Response to COVID-19" by Trevor Garcia
  • 8.5 Writing Process: Creating an Analytical Report
  • 8.6 Editing Focus: Commas with Nonessential and Essential Information
  • 8.7 Evaluation: Reviewing the Final Draft
  • 8.8 Spotlight on … Discipline-Specific and Technical Language
  • 8.9 Portfolio: Evidence and Objectivity
  • 9.1 Breaking the Whole into Its Parts
  • 9.2 Rhetorical Analysis Trailblazer: Jamil Smith
  • 9.4 Annotated Student Sample: “Rhetorical Analysis: Evicted by Matthew Desmond” by Eliana Evans
  • 9.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically about Rhetoric
  • 9.6 Editing Focus: Mixed Sentence Constructions
  • 9.7 Evaluation: Rhetorical Analysis
  • 9.8 Spotlight on … Business and Law
  • 9.9 Portfolio: How Thinking Critically about Rhetoric Affects Intellectual Growth
  • 10.1 Making a Case: Defining a Position Argument
  • 10.2 Position Argument Trailblazer: Charles Blow
  • 10.3 Glance at Genre: Thesis, Reasoning, and Evidence
  • 10.4 Annotated Sample Reading: "Remarks at the University of Michigan" by Lyndon B. Johnson
  • 10.5 Writing Process: Creating a Position Argument
  • 10.6 Editing Focus: Paragraphs and Transitions
  • 10.7 Evaluation: Varied Appeals
  • 10.8 Spotlight on … Citation
  • 10.9 Portfolio: Growth in the Development of Argument
  • 11.1 Developing Your Sense of Logic
  • 11.2 Reasoning Trailblazer: Paul D. N. Hebert
  • 11.3 Glance at Genre: Reasoning Strategies and Signal Words
  • 11.4 Annotated Sample Reading: from Book VII of The Republic by Plato
  • 11.5 Writing Process: Reasoning Supported by Evidence
  • 12.1 Introducing Research and Research Evidence
  • 12.2 Argumentative Research Trailblazer: Samin Nosrat
  • 12.3 Glance at Genre: Introducing Research as Evidence
  • 12.4 Annotated Student Sample: "Healthy Diets from Sustainable Sources Can Save the Earth" by Lily Tran
  • 12.5 Writing Process: Integrating Research
  • 12.6 Editing Focus: Integrating Sources and Quotations
  • 12.7 Evaluation: Effectiveness of Research Paper
  • 12.8 Spotlight on … Bias in Language and Research
  • 12.9 Portfolio: Why Facts Matter in Research Argumentation
  • 13.1 The Research Process: Where to Look for Existing Sources
  • 13.2 The Research Process: How to Create Sources
  • 13.3 Glance at the Research Process: Key Skills
  • 13.4 Annotated Student Sample: Research Log
  • 13.5 Research Process: Making Notes, Synthesizing Information, and Keeping a Research Log
  • 13.6 Spotlight on … Ethical Research
  • 14.1 Compiling Sources for an Annotated Bibliography
  • 14.2 Glance at Form: Citation Style, Purpose, and Formatting
  • 14.3 Annotated Student Sample: “Healthy Diets from Sustainable Sources Can Save the Earth” by Lily Tran
  • 14.4 Writing Process: Informing and Analyzing
  • 15.1 Tracing a Broad Issue in the Individual
  • 15.2 Case Study Trailblazer: Vilayanur S. Ramachandran
  • 15.3 Glance at Genre: Observation, Description, and Analysis
  • 15.4 Annotated Sample Reading: Case Study on Louis Victor "Tan" Leborgne
  • 15.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically About How People and Language Interact
  • 15.6 Editing Focus: Words Often Confused
  • 15.7 Evaluation: Presentation and Analysis of Case Study
  • 15.8 Spotlight on … Applied Linguistics
  • 15.9 Portfolio: Your Own Uses of Language
  • 3 Unit Introduction
  • 16.1 An Author’s Choices: What Text Says and How It Says It
  • 16.2 Textual Analysis Trailblazer: bell hooks
  • 16.3 Glance at Genre: Print or Textual Analysis
  • 16.4 Annotated Student Sample: "Artists at Work" by Gwyn Garrison
  • 16.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically About Text
  • 16.6 Editing Focus: Literary Works Live in the Present
  • 16.7 Evaluation: Self-Directed Assessment
  • 16.8 Spotlight on … Humanities
  • 16.9 Portfolio: The Academic and the Personal
  • 17.1 “Reading” Images
  • 17.2 Image Trailblazer: Sara Ludy
  • 17.3 Glance at Genre: Relationship Between Image and Rhetoric
  • 17.4 Annotated Student Sample: “Hints of the Homoerotic” by Leo Davis
  • 17.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically and Writing Persuasively About Images
  • 17.6 Editing Focus: Descriptive Diction
  • 17.7 Evaluation: Relationship Between Analysis and Image
  • 17.8 Spotlight on … Video and Film
  • 17.9 Portfolio: Interplay Between Text and Image
  • 18.1 Mixing Genres and Modes
  • 18.2 Multimodal Trailblazer: Torika Bolatagici
  • 18.3 Glance at Genre: Genre, Audience, Purpose, Organization
  • 18.4 Annotated Sample Reading: “Celebrating a Win-Win” by Alexandra Dapolito Dunn
  • 18.5 Writing Process: Create a Multimodal Advocacy Project
  • 18.6 Evaluation: Transitions
  • 18.7 Spotlight on . . . Technology
  • 18.8 Portfolio: Multimodalism
  • 19.1 Writing, Speaking, and Activism
  • 19.2 Podcast Trailblazer: Alice Wong
  • 19.3 Glance at Genre: Language Performance and Visuals
  • 19.4 Annotated Student Sample: “Are New DOT Regulations Discriminatory?” by Zain A. Kumar
  • 19.5 Writing Process: Writing to Speak
  • 19.6 Evaluation: Bridging Writing and Speaking
  • 19.7 Spotlight on … Delivery/Public Speaking
  • 19.8 Portfolio: Everyday Rhetoric, Rhetoric Every Day
  • 20.1 Thinking Critically about Your Semester
  • 20.2 Reflection Trailblazer: Sandra Cisneros
  • 20.3 Glance at Genre: Purpose and Structure
  • 20.4 Annotated Sample Reading: “Don’t Expect Congrats” by Dale Trumbore
  • 20.5 Writing Process: Looking Back, Looking Forward
  • 20.6 Editing Focus: Pronouns
  • 20.7 Evaluation: Evaluating Self-Reflection
  • 20.8 Spotlight on … Pronouns in Context

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Identify key rhetorical strategies that authors use to persuade readers.
  • Analyze texts to demonstrate understanding of key rhetorical concepts.
  • Identify genre conventions and explain how they are shaped by purpose, culture, and expectation.

Rhetorical analysis is the genre , or type of writing, that examines the way writers and speakers use language to influence readers. Rather than describing or summarizing content—the what of characters or themes—rhetorical analysis focuses on the individual parts of a text to show how language works to create the effects the writer wants. In other words, in addition to content, writers use rhetorical strategies to deliver and strengthen their ideas and thus influence their readers. A rhetorical analysis should, therefore, address the rhetorical situation , or conditions of communication that surround the rhetoric. These consist of the author (who), message (what), readers (to whom), purpose (why), means (how), context (where and when), and culture (community).

Culture refers to the way of life that a defined group of people establish. Their beliefs, laws, customs, and habits represent them as a group and may provide a signature to identify who they are and what they have accomplished. Rhetorical analysis must take these factors into full consideration, especially because cultural patterns are constantly changing and evolving with new knowledge and behaviors. Moreover, culture will vary greatly from group to group. Subgroups within a larger culture—for example, minorities within a majority population—may have distinct expressions of culture. When rhetorical analysis approaches language of a particular culture, questions may arise about who is best equipped to do the analysis and on what criteria, based on time and place.

Writers of rhetorical analyses consider these elements carefully and ask questions based on them. What are the goals of the author of the text? What factors are at play in the author’s choice of strategies used to make a rhetorical impact? What may occur in the interaction between the writer and reader? Will readers approach the piece neutrally, with no previous opinions? Are they likely to agree because they are of the same opinion, or are they hostile and ready to reject the arguments? Have they heard or read the ideas before? Will the ideas be too radical or too familiar? Are readers likely to see the author as sharing the field with them or as a stranger who must win their confidence?

The Workings of Rhetorical Analysis

The aim of rhetorical analysis is not to find agreement with or praise for the writer, although either may be implied or stated. The essential task of analyzing requires a detachment that will convince the readers of the validity and effectiveness (or lack thereof) of the writing by identifying the writer’s tools and what they accomplish.

As you formulate your rhetorical analysis, be aware of the following approaches and strategies that writers use to persuade an audience. Your goal will be to identify them in your analysis, explain their use, and evaluate their effectiveness.

  • Establishing credibility. Writers include their credentials or experience with the subject to ensure that readers will take them seriously as someone who knows what they’re talking about. To reinforce their authority, they cite reliable sources as support for their points.
  • Sharing personal experience. Sharing a personal experience related to the subject enhances credibility and may also appeal to readers’ emotions.
  • Targeting emotional concerns. By specifically addressing those incidents or outcomes that readers may fear or desire, the author can rally them to take a particular position. Emotional concerns also include appeals to the five senses and to broader sentiments such as love, loyalty, anger, justice, or patriotism.
  • Using devices that draw attention to claims. These include literary devices such as parallelism, repetition, and rhetorical questions that writers and speakers use to emphasize points and unify a text.
  • Supporting claims with convincing evidence. Ways of supporting claims include quoting, summarizing, or paraphrasing expert opinions; relating anecdotes and examples; and citing appropriate statistics and facts.
  • Acknowledging the opposition. If a writer makes a point of explaining other groups’ positions carefully and respectfully, readers from those groups, as well as the target audience, are more likely to be responsive to the writer. By acknowledging the opposition, writers show they have considered opposing views and can then demonstrate that their position is preferable.
  • Questioning the motivation of the opposition. By exposing others’ possibly conflicting interests, the writer can undermine the credibility of an opponent’s character or argument.

In addition to these, writers may use more questionable rhetorical devices to persuade readers. While the techniques of each strategy differ, all lead away from the actual argument and seek to persuade through means other than reasonable, logical thought. Such strategies include bandwagon, ad hominem (name-calling), bait and switch, and more. Recall the roommates’ use of some of these in their efforts at persuasion in Breaking the Whole into Its Parts .

Rhetorical Strategies in Advertising and Public Policy

The strategies and other devices of rhetorical writing that are open to analysis are present in many types of communication, including multimodal examples such as advertisements that combine visuals with carefully crafted texts, dialogue, and voice-over.

Look at the M&Ms commercial, for example, in this collection of Super Bowl ads. Starting at minute 4:57, the prize-winning ad for M&Ms initially shows the widely recognizable candy in its multiple colors as both speaking cartoon figures and symbols of human behavior. The simple pitch: when people have offended others in one of a range of interpersonal blunders, the candy is offered as a peace offering. For example, the first image shows a man on a plane bumping into another passenger’s seat, causing him to spill his drink. The offender then offers the passenger a package of M&Ms. What is the rhetorical strategy behind the situation and the gesture? The ad appeals to pathos in the sense that people feel the need to be liked. Despite the humorous twist in the comment that he kicked the seat on purpose, the offending man nonetheless doesn’t want to be disliked. Nor do the others who commit other blunders. The sense of taste—sweetness—also comes into play, appealing to the senses, as does the sense of sight in the images of the colorful candy.

Furthermore, placing the ad during the Super Bowl targets an audience of game watchers whose ages, interests, and habits have been studied. They may be in a snacking frame of mind, so the appeal of candy is timely (kairos). The ad combines sophistication, appropriate adult behavior, and childishly amusing animation and personification. Seeing the product makes it more memorable. On the other hand, note the subtle use of the bandwagon fallacy: different people in different situations are doing the same thing—offering M&Ms. The bandwagon implication is that if you do something you’re sorry for or should be sorry for (or even if you don’t), giving out M&Ms is the way to apologize and be likable. Because travelers, businesspeople, the religiously observant, and others from different walks of life are doing it, so should you.

Figure 9.4 is an image from the U.S. Forest Service that also reflects the use of rhetorical strategies. Smokey Bear is a symbol created in 1944 to raise awareness of the danger of forest fires. Images of this gentle, personified bear are often accompanied by the slogan “Remember . . . only you can prevent forest fires” or a variation of it. The image shows Smokey dressed in rolled-up jeans, a name belt, and a ranger’s hat. He is reading letters delivered by a mail truck and sent to his own ZIP code, 20252, from children and adults promising to cooperate with his environmental efforts. The entire image is among the most recognizable of American cultural symbols.

The continuing identification of the bear and his appeal over decades is an example of the powerful use of rhetorical devices that speak without seeming to become dated and lose impact. First, a wild and dangerous animal is personified and made credible so that the credibility (ethos) of Smokey as a domesticated father figure with a fuzzy, playful cub climbing on the family mailbox removes any sense of danger and instead makes him into a believable voice for safety. No humans are emphasized in the illustration; the mail truck is seen only in the distance after having delivered another stack of fan mail. Other small animals are present in the background, as are familiar household items such as a shovel, a mailbox, an American flag, a boat on crystal clear water, and the playful images of the ranger’s hat and rolled-up jeans on crossed legs. The drawing features bright primary colors and the dark forest green of bountiful nature. The print medium in the center of the illustration, the sign reading “Prevent forest fires,” unifies the visual.

Because the images are emotionally accessible to children as well as adults, they appeal to widely shared pathos. The unspoken implication is that preventing forest fires will allow these young animals and forest plants to live rather than die in a carelessly started—and deadly—fire. In addition, it will allow human life to continue safely and pleasurably, as viewers can see, far in the background, people sailing and enjoying the water. If children’s wisdom and receptivity to images are present, this idealized picture has great appeal. Rather than a harsh rebuke for adult negligence, the lesson of Smokey relies on the power of rhetoric to modify behavior with specific, carefully crafted appeals. Yet the most frequently used slogan, “Only you can prevent forest fires,” is an example of hyperbole. Certainly “you” are not the sole person responsible for starting or preventing fires. Other people and other factors are at work aside from yourself.

More explicit, however, is this earlier image:

The rhetorical strategy again is pathos, appealing to a sense of guilt. If these children can help prevent fires, then surely adults can do the same, as they are likely more knowledgeable and care for the safety and health of their children.

Rhetorical Analysis: Key Terms

Rhetorical appeals.

When doing a rhetorical analysis, notice these appeals writers use to persuade their audiences.

  • Ethos : believable, authoritative voice that elicits credibility and audience trust.
  • Kairos : sense of appropriate timing when attempting to persuade.
  • Logos : credible information—facts, reasons, or examples—presented as evidence that moves toward a sensible and acceptable conclusion.
  • Pathos : the use of appeals to feelings and emotions shared by an audience. Some of the general categories are fear, guilt, anger, love, loyalty, patriotism, and duty.

Rhetorical Devices and Language Use

When doing a rhetorical analysis, notice these devices writers use to organize and emphasize their writing.

  • Figurative language : similes and metaphors. Comparing one aspect of things that in other ways are completely different is an essential part of rhetorical language. Simile example: “The treasure chest of nature’s wonders shone like a pirate’s gold tooth.” Metaphor example: “The pizza was a disk of saucy sunlight.”
  • Numerical data : statistics and figures. When accurate, numerical data can strengthen an argument.
  • Parallel structure : repetition of the same pattern of words to show that ideas are equally significant. Parallel structure, or parallelism, calls attention to these ideas, achieves balance, and makes the statements more memorable. Example: “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.”
  • Personification : giving an inanimate or nonhuman object human characteristics to make it seem alive and relatable. Examples: “The virus packed its bags and spread across the ocean”; “Twitter erupted in outrage.”
  • Repetition : repeating a single word or group of words to build emphasis. Example: “The first underline cause end underline is poverty; the second underline cause end underline is poor health; the third underline cause end underline is discrimination. These underline causes end underline have been studied, but to what effect?”
  • Rhetorical question : a question that is not expected to be answered, one for which there is no answer, or one that creates a dramatic effect. Examples: “Has it occurred to you to ask why the economy is so unstable? A first point to consider is . . .”; “Do you think poverty will go away by itself?”
  • Understatement : presenting something as less important than it is as a way of distancing from the truth. Understatement is often used sarcastically or ironically. Example: “It may not have occurred to politicians that poverty leads to a host of health-related issues.”

Rhetorical Fallacies

When doing a rhetorical analysis, notice these fallacies writers may use to unethically persuade their audiences.

  • Ad hominem : logical fallacy that attempts to discredit a person, not an argument. Ad hominem , meaning “against the man,” is often termed name-calling . Examples: “She’s just a leftover from another era who can’t accept change”; “He’s a stupid bully and an outright thief.”
  • Bait and switch : logical fallacy that introduces a point about one thing that is likely to be accepted and then changes the terms once initial agreement occurs. Example: “Buy these phones at this price before they’re all gone!” When you go to buy one, moments later, the phones are gone—and they’re far more expensive.
  • Bandwagon : logical fallacy often used in advertising and propaganda. It tries to make people do something or think a certain way because everyone is doing it, and if they don’t go along, they will be excluded. Example: “Everyone is buying these sneakers; get yours now before you’re left out.” Negative example: “This style is so dated; no one wears things like this now.”
  • Causal fallacy : the faulty logic of claiming or believing that an event that follows another event is the result of it. For example, losing your keys after going to a concert does not mean the events are connected causally; going to the concert did not cause you to lose your keys.
  • Hyperbole : exaggeration. Hyperbole is one of the staples of advertising language. Examples: “Season’s Best Peppermint Glazed Delights”; “I have a ton of homework.”

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What Is a Rhetorical Analysis and How to Write a Great One

Helly Douglas

Helly Douglas

Cover image for article

Do you have to write a rhetorical analysis essay? Fear not! We’re here to explain exactly what rhetorical analysis means, how you should structure your essay, and give you some essential “dos and don’ts.”

What is a Rhetorical Analysis Essay?

How do you write a rhetorical analysis, what are the three rhetorical strategies, what are the five rhetorical situations, how to plan a rhetorical analysis essay, creating a rhetorical analysis essay, examples of great rhetorical analysis essays, final thoughts.

A rhetorical analysis essay studies how writers and speakers have used words to influence their audience. Think less about the words the author has used and more about the techniques they employ, their goals, and the effect this has on the audience.

Image showing definitions

In your analysis essay, you break a piece of text (including cartoons, adverts, and speeches) into sections and explain how each part works to persuade, inform, or entertain. You’ll explore the effectiveness of the techniques used, how the argument has been constructed, and give examples from the text.

A strong rhetorical analysis evaluates a text rather than just describes the techniques used. You don’t include whether you personally agree or disagree with the argument.

Structure a rhetorical analysis in the same way as most other types of academic essays . You’ll have an introduction to present your thesis, a main body where you analyze the text, which then leads to a conclusion.

Think about how the writer (also known as a rhetor) considers the situation that frames their communication:

  • Topic: the overall purpose of the rhetoric
  • Audience: this includes primary, secondary, and tertiary audiences
  • Purpose: there are often more than one to consider
  • Context and culture: the wider situation within which the rhetoric is placed

Back in the 4th century BC, Aristotle was talking about how language can be used as a means of persuasion. He described three principal forms —Ethos, Logos, and Pathos—often referred to as the Rhetorical Triangle . These persuasive techniques are still used today.

Image showing rhetorical strategies

Rhetorical Strategy 1: Ethos

Are you more likely to buy a car from an established company that’s been an important part of your community for 50 years, or someone new who just started their business?

Reputation matters. Ethos explores how the character, disposition, and fundamental values of the author create appeal, along with their expertise and knowledge in the subject area.

Aristotle breaks ethos down into three further categories:

  • Phronesis: skills and practical wisdom
  • Arete: virtue
  • Eunoia: goodwill towards the audience

Ethos-driven speeches and text rely on the reputation of the author. In your analysis, you can look at how the writer establishes ethos through both direct and indirect means.

Rhetorical Strategy 2: Pathos

Pathos-driven rhetoric hooks into our emotions. You’ll often see it used in advertisements, particularly by charities wanting you to donate money towards an appeal.

Common use of pathos includes:

  • Vivid description so the reader can imagine themselves in the situation
  • Personal stories to create feelings of empathy
  • Emotional vocabulary that evokes a response

By using pathos to make the audience feel a particular emotion, the author can persuade them that the argument they’re making is compelling.

Rhetorical Strategy 3: Logos

Logos uses logic or reason. It’s commonly used in academic writing when arguments are created using evidence and reasoning rather than an emotional response. It’s constructed in a step-by-step approach that builds methodically to create a powerful effect upon the reader.

Rhetoric can use any one of these three techniques, but effective arguments often appeal to all three elements.

The rhetorical situation explains the circumstances behind and around a piece of rhetoric. It helps you think about why a text exists, its purpose, and how it’s carried out.

Image showing 5 rhetorical situations

The rhetorical situations are:

  • 1) Purpose: Why is this being written? (It could be trying to inform, persuade, instruct, or entertain.)
  • 2) Audience: Which groups or individuals will read and take action (or have done so in the past)?
  • 3) Genre: What type of writing is this?
  • 4) Stance: What is the tone of the text? What position are they taking?
  • 5) Media/Visuals: What means of communication are used?

Understanding and analyzing the rhetorical situation is essential for building a strong essay. Also think about any rhetoric restraints on the text, such as beliefs, attitudes, and traditions that could affect the author's decisions.

Before leaping into your essay, it’s worth taking time to explore the text at a deeper level and considering the rhetorical situations we looked at before. Throw away your assumptions and use these simple questions to help you unpick how and why the text is having an effect on the audience.

Image showing what to consider when planning a rhetorical essay

1: What is the Rhetorical Situation?

  • Why is there a need or opportunity for persuasion?
  • How do words and references help you identify the time and location?
  • What are the rhetoric restraints?
  • What historical occasions would lead to this text being created?

2: Who is the Author?

  • How do they position themselves as an expert worth listening to?
  • What is their ethos?
  • Do they have a reputation that gives them authority?
  • What is their intention?
  • What values or customs do they have?

3: Who is it Written For?

  • Who is the intended audience?
  • How is this appealing to this particular audience?
  • Who are the possible secondary and tertiary audiences?

4: What is the Central Idea?

  • Can you summarize the key point of this rhetoric?
  • What arguments are used?
  • How has it developed a line of reasoning?

5: How is it Structured?

  • What structure is used?
  • How is the content arranged within the structure?

6: What Form is Used?

  • Does this follow a specific literary genre?
  • What type of style and tone is used, and why is this?
  • Does the form used complement the content?
  • What effect could this form have on the audience?

7: Is the Rhetoric Effective?

  • Does the content fulfil the author’s intentions?
  • Does the message effectively fit the audience, location, and time period?

Once you’ve fully explored the text, you’ll have a better understanding of the impact it’s having on the audience and feel more confident about writing your essay outline.

A great essay starts with an interesting topic. Choose carefully so you’re personally invested in the subject and familiar with it rather than just following trending topics. There are lots of great ideas on this blog post by My Perfect Words if you need some inspiration. Take some time to do background research to ensure your topic offers good analysis opportunities.

Image showing considerations for a rhetorical analysis topic

Remember to check the information given to you by your professor so you follow their preferred style guidelines. This outline example gives you a general idea of a format to follow, but there will likely be specific requests about layout and content in your course handbook. It’s always worth asking your institution if you’re unsure.

Make notes for each section of your essay before you write. This makes it easy for you to write a well-structured text that flows naturally to a conclusion. You will develop each note into a paragraph. Look at this example by College Essay for useful ideas about the structure.

Image showing how to structure an essay

1: Introduction

This is a short, informative section that shows you understand the purpose of the text. It tempts the reader to find out more by mentioning what will come in the main body of your essay.

  • Name the author of the text and the title of their work followed by the date in parentheses
  • Use a verb to describe what the author does, e.g. “implies,” “asserts,” or “claims”
  • Briefly summarize the text in your own words
  • Mention the persuasive techniques used by the rhetor and its effect

Create a thesis statement to come at the end of your introduction.

After your introduction, move on to your critical analysis. This is the principal part of your essay.

  • Explain the methods used by the author to inform, entertain, and/or persuade the audience using Aristotle's rhetorical triangle
  • Use quotations to prove the statements you make
  • Explain why the writer used this approach and how successful it is
  • Consider how it makes the audience feel and react

Make each strategy a new paragraph rather than cramming them together, and always use proper citations. Check back to your course handbook if you’re unsure which citation style is preferred.

3: Conclusion

Your conclusion should summarize the points you’ve made in the main body of your essay. While you will draw the points together, this is not the place to introduce new information you’ve not previously mentioned.

Use your last sentence to share a powerful concluding statement that talks about the impact the text has on the audience(s) and wider society. How have its strategies helped to shape history?

Before You Submit

Poor spelling and grammatical errors ruin a great essay. Use ProWritingAid to check through your finished essay before you submit. It will pick up all the minor errors you’ve missed and help you give your essay a final polish. Look at this useful ProWritingAid webinar for further ideas to help you significantly improve your essays. Sign up for a free trial today and start editing your essays!

Screenshot of ProWritingAid's web editor

You’ll find countless examples of rhetorical analysis online, but they range widely in quality. Your institution may have example essays they can share with you to show you exactly what they’re looking for.

The following links should give you a good starting point if you’re looking for ideas:

Pearson Canada has a range of good examples. Look at how embedded quotations are used to prove the points being made. The end questions help you unpick how successful each essay is.

Excelsior College has an excellent sample essay complete with useful comments highlighting the techniques used.

Brighton Online has a selection of interesting essays to look at. In this specific example, consider how wider reading has deepened the exploration of the text.

Image showing tips when reading a sample essay

Writing a rhetorical analysis essay can seem daunting, but spending significant time deeply analyzing the text before you write will make it far more achievable and result in a better-quality essay overall.

It can take some time to write a good essay. Aim to complete it well before the deadline so you don’t feel rushed. Use ProWritingAid’s comprehensive checks to find any errors and make changes to improve readability. Then you’ll be ready to submit your finished essay, knowing it’s as good as you can possibly make it.

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Helly Douglas is a UK writer and teacher, specialising in education, children, and parenting. She loves making the complex seem simple through blogs, articles, and curriculum content. You can check out her work at hellydouglas.com or connect on Twitter @hellydouglas. When she’s not writing, you will find her in a classroom, being a mum or battling against the wilderness of her garden—the garden is winning!

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Home — Essay Samples — Business — Nike — Rhetorical Analysis of ‘want It All’ Advertisement by Nike

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Rhetorical Analysis of ‘want It All’ Advertisement by Nike

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Published: May 19, 2020

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Works Cited

  • Armstrong, L., & Foddy, M. (Eds.). (2013). The Routledge Handbook of Sport Expertise. London, UK: Routledge.
  • Bloyce, D., & Smith, A. (Eds.). (2010). The Social Impact of Sport: Cross-Cultural Perspectives. London, UK: Routledge.
  • Nike. (2017). Nike Want It All - Full Version. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=obdd31Q9PqA
  • Pritchard, A., & Morgan, N. (2017). Advertising in Tourism and Leisure. Wallingford, UK: CABI.
  • Schmitt, B., & Rogers, D. (2018). Handbook on Brand and Experience Management. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing.
  • Shank, M. D. (2010). Sports Marketing: A Strategic Perspective. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.
  • Slack, T., & Parent, M. M. (Eds.). (2005). Experiential Learning in Sport Management: Internships and Beyond. Morgantown, WV: Fitness Information Technology.
  • Smith, A. C., & Stewart, B. (Eds.). (2010). Sporting Cultures: Global Perspectives. New York, NY: Routledge.
  • Thompson, J. L., & Sullivan, A. P. (2018). Sport Public Relations and Communication. New York, NY: Routledge.
  • Walters, G., & Trenberth, L. (2016). The Political Economy of Sport. London, UK: Routledge.

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Assignment instructions

Rhetorical analysis of print advertisements, purpose: what do i want the student to do.

This essay is designed to teach students how to successfully manage a research project, specifically identifying a thesis to research, locating applicable research sources, managing and evaluating those research sources, and writing an acceptable research paper.  Secondly, this project is designed to encourage students to become more proficient at thinking both critically and rhetorically about advertising and to become more aware at recognizing how this media shapes viewers’ responses to the outside world. 

This research project will be a balance between the two types of research modes typically assigned by your future professors: assigned topics and invented topics.

  • Assigned topics : I will be requiring you to focus your attention on one particular area – the effectiveness of a specific advertising technique  or  the sociological effects of advertising.  This will give you experience in dealing with a topic that you are both unfamiliar with and required to address.
  • Invented topic : I will be requiring you to select on your own the particular technique or effect that interests you.  This will require you to examine the general field and decide which technique or effect appeals to you.  This will give you experience in examining your own interests and curiosity and incorporating those interests into your academic work.

Advertisers use many recognizable techniques in order to better convince the public to buy or adopt a product, service, idea and/or belief.  Secondly, advertising in general have many effects on viewers, some of them positive, some of them negative.  Your goal in this assignment is to identify one of these techniques or effects, research how it works and use two print advertisements as examples .  As the power of advertising as a cultural and marketing force continues to grow, it is imperative that consumers understand the rhetorical techniques advertisers use to shape the public's attitude towards and desire for these commodities.

Understand that we will not discuss in detail the marketing strategies used by advertisers in class, nor will be discussing in detail the social effects, other than to briefly suggest ideas for locating them (for example, color, celebrity endorsement and sexual imagery as technique –  racism, sexism or negative body image as social issues).  Research papers  are designed to teach you how to teach yourself , using proper research methods and tools.  You will learn these advertising methods or effects on your own.  

Project Overview: How do I want the student to do the assignment?

Focus your research paper on answering  one  of the questions below:

  • What makes a particular advertising technique so effective? (For example, “What makes celebrity endorsements so effective?) 
  • What evidence do companies use to justify spending so much money on print advertising?
  • What specific damage to society does advertising do, and how exactly is advertising to blame?

  

Conduct a rhetorical analysis that evaluates  two  advertisements for their rhetorical elements. The two advertisements must fulfill one of these conditions:

  • Both ads are for the  same  product but were run at least five years apart ( history ).
  • Both ads are for the  same  product but were created for  two very different cultures, geographical areas  or audiences  (such as American/European, American/Asian, male/female, gay/straight, rural/urban, etc). 
  • The two ads are for  competing  products that occupy a similar market niche.

The assignment will be broken into the following five sections:

  • Abbreviated   Research Proposal —the Abbreviated Research Proposal   is designed to put you on the right track when producing your research project.  Here you will identify your  thesis  (a hypothesis that you intend to prove with evidence uncovered in your Final Research Paper) and  locate viable research material . 
  • Annotated Bibliography —the Annotated Bibliography will organize your research to make the research project easier to handle and enable you to understand fully all of your research.
  • Proposed Outline —the outline will organize your future essay, prioritizing your thoughts and simplifying the drafting process.
  • First Draft Research Paper  (5-7 pages)—the Research Papers will be  formal essays  in which you introduce your thesis, support your thesis in the body using evidence from academically sound sources, provide a conclusion, and produce a works cited page with at least  5 academically sound resources .
  • Second Draft Research Paper  (5-7 pages)—a final draft to ensure me that you can indeed produce an acceptable research paper for future professors.

Advertising Technique Possibilities  

Advertisers use hundreds of techniques in order to sway viewers to buy or adopt their product.  Below is a list of possible topics to research.  (This list is by no means complete.  Every semester students surprise me with new topics.)

  • Celebrity endorsement (Celebrity branding)
  • Color symbolism
  • Emotional appeals (for example, fear)
  • Family values
  • Informative
  • Lifestyle or imitation
  • Narrative (storytelling)
  • Print techniques such as gaze, typography, framing or bleed techniques
  • Sexual imagery
  • Shock (startling or overtly offensive)
  • Subliminal messaging
  • Testimonials

Advertising in general can affect viewers’ behaviors and alter viewers’ perceptions of reality.  Below is a list of possible topics to research. (This list is by no means complete.)

  • Racism and ethnic stereotyping
  • Sexism or gender discrimination
  • Negative body issues
  • Negative health practices (obesity, smoking, alcoholism)
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Rhetorical Analysis Of An Advertisement Example

In order to analyze the rhetoric of an advertisement, we must first understand what rhetoric is. Rhetoric is “the art of using language to persuade”. In other words, it’s all about how words are used to influence or affect an audience.

When it comes to advertising, rhetoric is used in order to sell a product or service. Advertisers use carefully chosen words and images in order to create an emotional response in their audience. This response can be positive (I want that!) or negative (I need that!). Either way, the goal is to get people to take action, whether that’s buying a product or simply paying attention to the ad.

Let’s take a look at a recent ad featuring a woman. This ad is for a new brand of jeans, and the woman in the ad is shown wearing them. The ad copy reads: “The perfect fit for every body. Finally, a jean that looks good on you.”

There are several things going on here rhetorically. First, the use of the word “perfect” is meant to create a sense of desire in the reader. We all want to look perfect, so this ad is playing on that insecurity. Second, the word “every” is inclusive language that makes us feel like this product is meant for everyone. And lastly, the phrase “looks good on you” is designed to make us feel good about ourselves. It’s a way of saying that no matter what your body type is, you can look good in these jeans.

So, what can we learn from this ad? Advertising is all about persuasion, and advertisers use rhetoric to achieve their goals. By understanding how rhetoric works, we can be better consumers and make more informed decisions about the products and services we buy.

There are an innumerable number of different advertisements on the internet. They’re all over the place, whether it’s on TV, radio, or in a magazine. They’ve created an ad especially for that target demographic. Of course, they’re hoping to sell their goods. This billion-dollar industry thrives on advertisers looking at every angle to capture consumers’ attention. One approach used to promote items is through sex, which some people view as controversial in certain ways.

In this essay, I will be analyzing a perfume advertisement that uses a woman’s body to sell the product.

This particular advertisement is for the new scent from the company Givenchy. The ad features a close-up of a woman’s face with smoky makeup and red lips. Her hair is styled in big, loose curls. She’s wearing a black leather jacket with nothing else. The copy on the ad reads, “Givenchy Dahlia Noir. A dangerous femininity.” Immediately, we can see that they’re trying to sell the idea of a strong, sexy woman who is also dangerous.

Looking at the image alone, we can see that they’re using sex appeal to sell their product. The close-up of the woman’s face and the suggestion of her bare chest implies a sexual nature. The black leather jacket is also a symbol of sexiness and power. Combined with the copy, it’s clear that they’re trying to sell the idea of a dangerous femme fatale.

While there is nothing wrong with using sex appeal in advertising, it’s important to consider the context in which it’s being used. In this case, Givenchy is selling a perfume that is supposed to make women smell sexy. There’s nothing wrong with that. However, they’re using a very specific image of a woman to sell their product. They’re not just selling the idea of smelling good, they’re selling the idea of being a certain type of woman.

The target demographic is males and females in their late teens to mid-twenties. By attracting the attention of and interest in the attractive woman on the right with vivid colors, as well as the bottle of whiskey in the middle of the page, this firm captures the male side of the equation. The beauty of this picture is that it has an exceptionally attractive lady posing in next to nothing, which attracts people’s attention.

The fact that she is not wearing a lot of clothing shows that this company does not shy away from showing some skin to get attention, but they are also using a very popular drink among men, whiskey. This company has used a model that is guaranteed to keep the attention of their target market, males in their late teens to mid twenties.

The second thing this company does well is use pathos by saying ” be seen with the right crowd.” What they are trying to say is that if you drink their whiskey then you will be accepted into the “in-crowd” and become popular. This is an emotional appeal that speaks to people who want to be accepted and feel like they belong somewhere. This is a very effective way to get people to buy their product because it is speaking to a very real emotion that people feel.

The last thing this company does well is use logos by saying ” smooth like silk.” This is a way of saying that their whiskey is the best on the market and that it is so smooth that it feels like silk going down your throat. This is an effective way to get people to buy their product because they are saying that their whiskey is better than any other kind on the market.

So, to get women to look at and read their advertising, they employ a plain woman who looks like a typical young girl. Then, beside her, they display the same lady who is now a stunning woman that seems far more powerful and certain of herself. Drinking Evan Williams Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey might help you accomplish that.

This is because Advertising plays a very big role in our society, especially when it comes to alcohol. It is shown in this advertisement that if you drink Evan Williams you will become more attractive and just be an all around better person. This is not only directed at females but also males as well. Advertising does a lot to our society good and bad. It helps promote products but sometimes those products are things that can be harmful like cigarettes or alcohol. So while advertising does have its benefits, it is important to be aware of what we are being sold and the implications it might have on our lives.

In conclusion, this company uses three different kinds of rhetoric to appeal to their target market of males in their late teens to mid twenties. They use an attractive model to get their attention, pathos to speak to their emotions, and logos to appeal to their sense of logic. All of these things together make for a very effective advertisement.

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Rhetorical Analysis Sample Essay

Harriet Clark

Ms. Rebecca Winter

13 Feb. 2015

Not Quite a Clean Sweep: Rhetorical Strategies in

Grose's "Cleaning: The Final Feminist Frontier”

A woman’s work is never done: many American women grow up with this saying and feel it to be true. 1 One such woman, author Jessica Grose, wrote “Cleaning: The Final Feminist Frontier,” published in 2013 in the New Republic, 2 and she argues that while the men recently started taking on more of the childcare and cooking, cleaning still falls unfairly on women. 3 Grose begins building her credibility with personal facts and reputable sources, citing convincing facts and statistics, and successfully employing emotional appeals; however, toward the end of the article, her attempts to appeal to readers’ emotions weaken her credibility and ultimately, her argument. 4

In her article, Grose first sets the stage by describing a specific scenario of house-cleaning with her husband after being shut in during Hurricane Sandy, and then she outlines the uneven distribution of cleaning work in her marriage and draws a comparison to the larger feminist issue of who does the cleaning in a relationship. Grose continues by discussing some of the reasons that men do not contribute to cleaning: the praise for a clean house goes to the woman; advertising and media praise men’s cooking and childcare, but not cleaning; and lastly, it is just not fun. Possible solutions to the problem, Grose suggests, include making a chart of who does which chores, dividing up tasks based on skill and ability, accepting a dirtier home, and making cleaning more fun with gadgets. 5

Throughout her piece, Grose uses many strong sources that strengthen her credibility and appeal to ethos, as well as build her argument. 6 These sources include, “sociologists Judith Treas and Tsui-o Tai,” “a 2008 study from the University of New Hampshire,” and “P&G North America Fabric Care Brand Manager, Matthew Krehbiel” (qtd. in Grose). 7 Citing these sources boosts Grose’s credibility by showing that she has done her homework and has provided facts and statistics, as well as expert opinions to support her claim. She also uses personal examples from her own home life to introduce and support the issue, which shows that she has a personal stake in and first-hand experience with the problem. 8

Adding to her ethos appeals, Grose uses strong appeals to logos, with many facts and statistics and logical progressions of ideas. 9 She points out facts about her marriage and the distribution of household chores: “My husband and I both work. We split midnight baby feedings ...but ... he will admit that he’s never cleaned the bathroom, that I do the dishes nine times out of ten, and that he barely knows how the washer and dryer work in the apartment we’ve lived in for over eight months.” 10 These facts introduce and support the idea that Grose does more household chores than her husband. Grose continues with many statistics:

[A]bout 55 percent of American mothers employed full time do some housework on an average day, while only 18 percent of employed fathers do. ... [W]orking women with children are still doing a week and a half more of “second shift” work each year than their male partners. ... Even in the famously gender-neutral Sweden, women do 45 minutes more housework a day than their male partners. 11

These statistics are a few of many that logically support her claim that it is a substantial and real problem that men do not do their fair share of the chores. The details and numbers build an appeal to logos and impress upon the reader that this is a problem worth discussing. 12

Along with strong logos appeals, Grose effectively makes appeals to pathos in the beginning and middle sections. 13 Her introduction is full of emotionally-charged words and phrases that create a sympathetic image; Grose notes that she “was eight months pregnant” and her husband found it difficult to “fight with a massively pregnant person.” 14 The image she evokes of the challenges and vulnerabilities of being so pregnant, as well as the high emotions a woman feels at that time effectively introduce the argument and its seriousness. Her goal is to make the reader feel sympathy for her. Adding to this idea are words and phrases such as, “insisted,” “argued,” “not fun,” “sucks” “headachey,” “be judged,” “be shunned” (Grose). All of these words evoke negative emotions about cleaning, which makes the reader sympathize with women who feel “judged” and shunned”—very negative feelings. Another feeling Grose reinforces with her word choice is the concept of fairness: “fair share,” “a week and a half more of ‘second shift’ work,” “more housework,” “more gendered and less frequent.” These words help establish the unfairness that exists when women do all of the cleaning, and they are an appeal to pathos, or the readers’ feelings of frustration and anger with injustice. 15

However, the end of the article lacks the same level of effectiveness in the appeals to ethos. 16 For example, Grose notes that when men do housework, they are considered to be “’enacting “small instances of gender heroism,” or ‘SIGH’s’—which, barf.” 17 The usage of the word “barf” is jarring to the reader; unprofessional and immature, it is a shift from the researched, intelligent voice she has established and the reader is less likely to take the author seriously. This damages the strength of her credibility and her argument. 18

Additionally, her last statement in the article refers to her husband in a way that weakens the argument. 19 While returning to the introduction’s hook in the conclusion is a frequently-used strategy, Grose chooses to return to her discussion of her husband in a humorous way: Grose discusses solutions, and says there is “a huge, untapped market ... for toilet-scrubbing iPods. I bet my husband would buy one.” 20 Returning to her own marriage and husband is an appeal to ethos or personal credibility, and while that works well in the introduction, in the conclusion, it lacks the strength and seriousness that the topic deserves and was given earlier in the article. 21

Though Grose begins the essay by effectively persuading her readers of the unfair distribution of home-maintenance cleaning labor, she loses her power in the end, where she most needs to drive home her argument. Readers can see the problem exists in both her marriage and throughout the world; however, her shift to humor and sarcasm makes the reader not take the problem as seriously in the end. 22 Grose could have more seriously driven home the point that a woman’s work could be done: by a man. 23

Works Cited

Grose, Jessica. “Cleaning: The Final Feminist Frontier.” New Republic. The New Republic, 19 Mar. 2013. Web. 28 Mar. 2014.

  • Article author's claim or purpose
  • Summary of the article's main point in the second paragraph (could also be in the introduction)
  • Third paragraph begins with a transition and topic sentence that reflects the first topic in the thesis
  • Quotes illustrate how the author uses appeals to ethos
  • Analysis explains how the quotes show the effective use of ethos as noted in the thesis
  • Transition and topic sentence about the second point from the thesis
  • Quote that illustrates appeals to logos
  • Analysis explains how the quotes show the effective use of logos, as noted in the thesis
  • Transition and topic sentence about the third point from the thesis
  • Quotes that illustrate appeals to pathos
  • Analysis explains how the quotes show the effective use of pathos, as noted in the thesis
  • Transition and topic sentence about fourth point from the thesis
  • Quote illustrates how the author uses appeal to ethos
  • Analysis explains how quote supports thesis
  • Transition and topic sentence about fourth point from thesis
  • Conclusion returns to the ideas in the thesis and further develops them
  • Last sentence returns to the hook in the introduction

Learn more about the " Rhetorical Analysis Graphic Organizer ."

Learn more about " Pathos, Logos, and Ethos ."

  • Open access
  • Published: 26 February 2024

Exposure and power of TV food advertising during the COVID-19 pandemic in Brazil: a content analysis

  • Michele Bittencourt Rodrigues 1 ,
  • Juliana de Paula Matos 1 ,
  • Marina Oliveira Santana 1 ,
  • Ana Paula Bortoletto Martins 2 , 3 ,
  • Rafael Moreira Claro 1 , 2 &
  • Paula Martins Horta 1  

BMC Public Health volume  24 , Article number:  618 ( 2024 ) Cite this article

Metrics details

With the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions imposed to contain the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the Brazilian population has increased the time spent at home and watching television (TV). Since food advertising exposure is a key driver of food choices, this study described the content of food advertisements (ads) on Brazilian TV during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is an exploratory study. A total of 684 h of TV programming comprised of three free-to-air channels and two pay-per-view channels was recorded from 06 a.m. to 12 a.m. for eight non-consecutive days in June 2020. A content analysis of all the food-related ads was carried out. The data collection process followed INFORMAS Protocol for TV food advertising monitoring.

The sample was composed of 7,083 ads, 752 (10.6%) of which were food-related and 487 (6.9%) were promoting ultra-processed foods. The content analysis indicated seven thematic categories, all of them with reference to the COVID-19 pandemic: brand and product differentials (79.8%); visual and sound effects (70.2%); thematic campaigns (56.0%); digitization (22.9%); convenience (16.5%); economic benefits (11.9%); and commensality and social interaction (6.1%). Ads content varied according to the day of the week, the time of the day, the length of the ad, and the channel type.

Conclusions

The thematic of food advertising on Brazilian TV during the COVID-19 pandemic is aligned with the country’s health crisis context and varied during the programming.

Peer Review reports

Overweight is one of the most serious public health issues in the world. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2016, more than 1.9 billion adults were overweight, with more than 650 million obese [ 1 ]. In Brazil, the prevalence of obesity in the adult population increased from 12.2% to 26.8% in less than 20 years (from 2003 to 2019). In the same period, the prevalence of overweight increased from 43.3% to 61.7% [ 2 ]. Sedentary behaviors, along with diets rich in ultra-processed foods are important factors in the etiology of overweight, obesity, and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) [ 1 ].

Food choice is a complex process that involves social and environmental factors, including exposure to advertising [ 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 ]. Integral to the food choice paradigm is food advertising, encompassing food and beverage advertising across various spaces where individuals engage, including television (TV) [ 7 ], digital environment (i.e., social media, websites, applications) [ 8 ], and outdoor mediums (i.e., public transport, posters, flyers, flags, banners, transit shelters, or benches, and billboards) [ 9 , 10 , 11 ] among others. Food advertising is currently focused on unhealthy foods frequently containing persuasive marketing strategies that stimulate the individuals’ desire for the advertised product and their loyalty to food brands [ 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 ]. Examples of these strategies are advertisement (ad) repetition, product demonstration, peer popularity appeal, celebrity endorsement, and premium offers [ 12 , 13 ]. Notably, these advertising strategies have a significant impact, especially on children [ 14 , 15 ]. This was confirmed by a study conducted on school-age children in Malaysia, which showed that children tend to prefer ads promoting unhealthy products like sugar-sweetened beverages, fast food, and snacks [ 14 ]. The study also highlighted that ads employing attractive branding, promotional characters, and toy giveaways were particularly effective [ 14 ].

Television (TV) remains one of the most dominant and pervasive forms of media globally, shaping cultural, social, and economic landscapes in diverse societies. Globally estimated 79% of households have at least one TV set, highlighting the widespread influence of this medium [ 16 ].

In Brazil, TV is the most used media by food companies to advertise their products, representing 71% of the advertising investments [ 17 ]. Additionally, a review of evidence over the last fifteen years on food and beverage marketing in Latin American countries emphasized TV as the primary advertising medium, with growing relevance for digital platforms, indicating the regional challenges related to unhealthy eating and the need for comprehensive research [ 18 ]. According to a monitoring study carried out in April 2018, the three most popular Brazilian TV channels promoted 14.2% of food-related ads, more than 90% of them containing at least one ultra-processed food and with one or more persuasive marketing strategies [ 19 , 20 ]. In this country, 96.8% of the households have at least one TV set [ 21 ], and 25% of the population is exposed to this media for more than three hours a day [ 22 ].

The COVID-19 pandemic precipitated a significant surge in screen time worldwide, particularly among children [ 23 ]. As lockdowns and remote learning measures necessitated increased reliance on electronic media for education and entertainment [ 23 ]. A study conducted in Canada found that children's screen time doubled during the pandemic, with TV viewing accounting for a substantial portion of their daily activities [ 24 ]. In Brazil, this exposure increased by 1 h and 20 min after the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic [ 25 ]. This unprecedented shift in media consumption patterns has raised concerns about the potential long-term implications for health and well-being, particularly in relation to sedentary behavior and its impact on physical activity levels and overall fitness [ 26 , 27 ].

The analysis of food advertising during the COVID-19 pandemic presents an opportunity to illuminate discussions on multiple fronts. Restricting food advertising is a global imperative for health organizations, encouraging civil society organizations, academic researchers, and governments to actively monitor and tackle this issue [ 28 , 29 , 30 ]. Monitoring food advertising serves as a critical tool in comprehending the intricacies of consumer behavior, especially in the context of promoting healthy food choices and mitigating the risks associated with the prevalence of unhealthy food products. Robust monitoring initiatives facilitate the evaluation of advertising trends, empowering policy-makers and public health authorities to formulate evidence-based strategies for regulating the marketing of foods and beverages, particularly those targeting vulnerable populations such as children and adolescents. Consequently, providing results from diverse regions and countries offers valuable insights into the global landscape of food advertising practices, shedding light on the disparities in regulatory frameworks, advertising standards, and industry practices.

In Brazil, no single study has described the characteristics of TV food advertising during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, international literature indicates that the food industry took advantage of the high exposure of individuals to mass media during the pandemic (31) and innovated in advertising campaigns, using marketing strategies aligned with the context of social distancing and with strong appeals for corporate social responsibility. In other words, the food industry made use of a period marked by health, political, and economic crises to consolidate their market share and reach new consumers [ 31 , 32 , 33 , 34 ].

Considering the potential negative impacts of the expansion of TV food advertising after the COVID-19 pandemic, the lack of evidence in this field, and the importance of adopting new methodological approaches that can potentially serve as a framework for delineating advertising practices worldwide, this study aimed to analyze the thematic content of food-related ads in five TV Brazilian channels during the first phase (June 2020) of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is a cross-sectional study based on the Food Promotion Module: Food Marketing—Television Protocol [ 35 ] developed by the International Network for Food and Obesity/Non-Communicable Diseases Research, Monitoring and Action Support (INFORMAS).

TV broadcasts were recorded from three free-to-air and two pay-per-view channels, selected by their high audience in Brazil. The two pay-per-view channels are aimed at children, and the three free-to-air channels, although not exclusively dedicated to children, did include programming specifically designed for young audiences as part of their content offerings. Data were recorded by a media auditing service for eight non-consecutive days (four weekdays and four weekend days) randomly selected during June 2020, from 6 a.m. to 12 a.m. In total, 684 h of broadcasts were recorded (due to a recording failure, two days (36 h) of a pay-per-view channel were lost).

Ad information was extracted through a digital questionnaire using the software Epi Info ™ (version 7.2.2.6). All data extraction was conducted independently by pairs of trained researchers. All datasets were cross-checked to correct any mistakes (inter-coder reliability ranged = from 97.6% to 99.5%). Each non-food-related ad received a single generic code, while all food-related ads received a unique code. Food-related ads were then sub-classified in:

Food or drink product – food company/brand (ultra-processed foods vs. non-ultra-processed foods);

Food or drink company or brand (no retailer) without food or drink product;

Food or drink retailer (supermarket or convenience store) with food or drink product;

Food or drink retailer (supermarket or convenience store) without food or drink product;

Food or drink retailer (restaurant or takeaway or fast food) with food or drink product;

Food or drink retailer (restaurant or takeaway or fast food) without food or drink product [ 18 ].

The variables investigated for each food-related ad included: date of recording (i.e., day of the week or weekend); time of the day (i.e., morning, afternoon, or evening); ad length (i.e., less or equal 5 s, between 6 and 15 s, or between 16 and 30 s) and the channel type (i.e., free-to-air or pay-per-view).

We also carried out a thematic content analysis of the food-related ads according to Braun and Clarke [ 36 ] using the NVivo software (version 16.1) and Microsoft® Excel (version 16.59). The analysis followed the steps:

Pre-analysis: two researchers carried out an initial analysis and took notes about the main thematic (advertising messages and appeals) that appeared in each ad;

Generation of initial codes: a researcher systematically coded the pre-analysis from the entire set of annotated data, grouping relevant data for each code. This step generated 42 initial codes;

Selection of categories: a researcher grouped the codes into potential categories, clustering all relevant data for each potential category. This step generated 12 initial categories;

Review of the categories: after a review of the coded data and categories, a thematic ‘map’ was generated for analysis and discussed among three researchers. This step resulted in a set of 7 thematic categories;

Treatment of the categories: a researcher carried out a general analysis to inspect the features of each category. As a result, definitions and clear names were generated for each category;

Interpretation of results: two researchers independently analyzed ads according to the categories found in the previous steps;

Consistency analysis of the interpretation: all results were compared, and divergences were verified and corrected.

Also, an inspection was carried out for each ad aiming to identify content making any reference to the COVID-19 pandemic. Publicity references to staying at home, social distancing, minimal contact, boredom in quarantine, or some companies endorsing healthcare professionals, are examples of related mentions.

For the quantitative data analyses, the first step was to estimate the absolute number, proportion, and 95% confidence interval (CI) of each ad type and of each category identified in the content analysis (applies only to food-related ads). Then, we estimated the absolute number, proportion, and 95% CI of each ad type and content category stratified by COVID-19 reference, day of the week, time of the day, ad length, and channel type. Differences between values were considered statistically significant when their 95% CI did not overlap. All statistical analysis was carried out using the Stata statistical software package (version 18).

A total of 7,083 ads were recorded during 684 h of programming (= 2.07 ads per hour per channel). Food-related ads totaled 752 (10.6%; 0.22 food-related ads per hour per channel), most of them featuring a food or drink product by a food company or brand ( n  = 618; 8.7%), mainly ultra-processed foods ( n  = 487; 6.9%) (Table  1 ). Notably, 15% of the food-related ads directly referenced the COVID-19 pandemic. Among these ads, a significant number, 58 instances, involved food or drink products by a food company or brand (51.3%). Additionally, 48 instances highlighted the promotion of a food company or brand (42.5%) (Table  1 ).

The thematic content analysis of food-related ads showed seven thematic categories: (i) ‘brand and product differentials’: ads highlighted the product, production process, brand, and/or ingredients; (ii) ‘sound and visual effects’: eye-catching and dynamic ads using visual and sound effects that aroused viewers’ emotions and feelings; (iii) ‘thematic campaigns’: ads with specific thematic campaigns such as special dates, aimed at children, care and well-being, and social responsibility; (iv) ‘digitization: ads that expanded the viewer’s contact with the brand, through new digital technologies; (v) ‘convenience’: ads with appeal of practicality and ease of consumption or buying the product; (vi) ‘economic benefits’: ads with the appeal to economic benefits, such as discounts, loyalty programs, among others; and (vii) ‘commensality and social interaction’: ads with references to eating together and encouraging social interaction, both online and physically. Each of these thematic is described in detail and exemplified in Table  2 .

Food-related ads that addressed the ‘brand and product differentials’ and ‘sound and visual effects’ were the most frequent: 79.8% (95% CI: 76.7; 82.5) and 70.2% (95% CI: 66.8; 73.4), respectively. Subsequently, the ‘thematic campaigns’ were identified in 56.0% of the ads (95% CI: 52.4; 59.5) and ‘digitization’ in 22.9% (95% CI: 20.0; 26.1). The other categories represented less than 20% of the ads. Food-related ads also made reference to the COVID-19 pandemic in all the seven thematic categories. However, this reference was more common in ads that addressed ‘thematic campaigns’ (73.4% – 95% CI: 64.5; 80.9), ‘brand and product differentials’ (69.9% – 95% CI: 60.8; 77.6), and ‘sound and visual effects’ (54.0% – 95% CI: 44.7; 62.9) (Table  3 ).

Table 4 shows the frequencies of the thematic categories present in the food-related ads stratified by the day of the week and the time of the day the advertising was broadcasted. In the first case, ‘brand and products differentials’ was more common during the week (81.8%) than on the weekend (76.5%). On weekends ‘sound and visual effects’ was the second promoted category (76.1%). Also, ‘digitization’ thematic was more frequent in ads broadcasted on weekends (24.2%) than during the week (18.9%). ‘Commensality and social interaction’ was the least frequent thematic, both on weekends (7.0%) and during the week (8.3%).

According to the time of the day in which the ads were broadcasted, ‘brand and product differentials’, ‘sound and visual effects’, and ‘thematic campaigns’ were the most frequent thematic categories in the three time periods. Ads classified in ‘thematic campaigns’ category were more broadcasted in the afternoon (62.3%) than in the evening (51.0%). For the other categories, no other differences were noted (Table  4 ).

Table 5 shows the frequencies of thematic categories stratified by ad length and channel type. In the first case, the ‘brand and products differentials’ and ‘sound and visual effects” were the most frequent categories in the three-length ad’ groups. Additionally, the thematic campaigns were also frequent among both the ‘between 6 and 15 s’ and ‘between 16 and 30 s’ groups. In contrast, no ad with ‘less or equal 5 s’ was classified in the economic benefits’, and ‘commensality and social interaction’ categories. While the categories ‘brand and products differentials’ and ‘sound and visual effects’ remained consistent across all three ad length categories, the remaining thematic categories exhibited a notably lower frequency in ads ‘less or equal 5 s’ compared to those ‘between 6 and 15 s’ or ‘between 16 and 30 s’.

According to the channel type in which the ads were broadcasted, the ‘brand and products differentials’ thematic was more frequent in the ‘free-to-air’ programming (80.4%) than in ‘pay-per-view’ channels (70.9%). In the ‘pay-per-view’ channels, on the other hand, the most frequent thematic category was ‘sound and visual effects’ (80.2%). Also, ads classified in the category of ‘commensality and social interaction’ were more commonly seen in the ‘free-to-air’ channels (7.0% – 95% CI: 5.2; 9.2) than in the ‘pay-per-view’ channels (0% – 95% CI: no variation on cases). In contrast, ‘digitization’ thematic was more used in ads broadcasted in the ‘pay-per-view’ programming (36.0% – 95% CI: 26.6; 46.6) than in the ‘free-to-air’ channels (21.1% – 95% CI: 18.2; 24.4).

This study analyzed the thematic content of food-related ads on five TV channels during the first phase of the COVID-19 pandemic in Brazil. This was a period when Brazilians were encouraged to stay at home and were more exposed to TV programming. The findings revealed that food and beverage companies predominantly promoted ultra-processed foods, employing diverse content and references to the COVID-19 pandemic to engage viewers and encourage them to purchase their products. This content was distributed differently during the programming, according to the day of the week (with more informative ads on weekdays and more relaxed ads on weekends), the time of the day (with ads targeted at a specific audience according to the time of day), the length of the ad (with longer ads including a mix of themes), and the TV channel type (with pay-per-view channels targeting their content for children). These observations suggest that food companies strategically align their advertising messages with the audience profile, which can strongly influence the purchase decision.

A global overview of food advertising content on 22 countries’ TV programming showed that food-related ads accounted for 23% of all ads. The study also found four times more ads for foods and beverages with inadequate nutrients than for those with adequate nutrient content [ 7 ]. In Brazil, previous analyses have demonstrated a range in the prevalence of food-related ads in TV programming, spanning from 10.2% to 14.2% [ 19 , 37 , 38 , 39 ]. Notably, multiple factors specific to each country may influence the prevalence of food advertising, thereby contributing to the observed differences in advertising proportions [ 40 ]. Possible explanations for the relatively lower occurrence of food advertising in Brazil compared to other countries could include (i) cultural preferences and eating habits that emphasize less food advertising or prioritize alternative marketing strategies, (ii) market dynamics and competitive scenarios in the Brazilian food industry, potentially leading to reduced emphasis on TV ads for food products, and (iii) differences in the marketing approaches adopted by the Brazilian advertising industry, focusing on a diverse range of platforms for content dissemination. Despite the lower occurrence of this type of ad on Brazilian TV in comparison to the global data [ 7 ], the Brazilian studies’ results corroborate the high presence of unhealthy food in TV programming [ 19 , 37 , 38 , 39 ]. This is a concerning scenario from a public health point of view, especially during a health crisis when excessive consumption of unhealthy foods can increase the risk of COVID-19 aggravation [ 41 ].

The impact of food marketing on food consumption and health outcomes depends on both, “exposure” and the concept of “power” [ 42 ], which involves the utilization of various creative strategies. Previous research on the influence of advertising has primarily focused on food ads targeting children [ 42 ], examining the presence of objectively determined persuasive marketing strategies [ 43 , 44 , 45 ]. Our study introduces an innovative approach by analyzing advertising characteristics across a comprehensive range of ads, not limited to those targeting children, and employing thematic analysis instead of a structured analysis of individual marketing strategies within the ads. The thematic analysis allows for a more flexible research methodology, facilitating the identification of key characteristics through a comprehensive examination of the marketing strategies and themes employed. This approach enables us to identify similarities, differences, and recurring patterns within the ads, offering valuable insights and interpretations of social and behavioral implications. Ultimately, it provides a comprehensive and effective analysis of how the food industry employs marketing to shape consumer behavior [ 36 ].

Our findings showed three main thematic categories that were particularly prominent in TV food advertising in Brazil during the COVID-19 pandemic: ‘brand and product differentials’; ‘sound and visual effects’; and ‘thematic campaigns’. The first thematic category explored brand or product features, such as the production process (e.g., slowly roasted), the ingredients used (e.g., 100% sustainable cocoa), and the brand or product's positioning in the market (e.g., the best). When references to COVID-19 were made, the brand aligned itself with consumers, offering products that promote pleasure and well-being during the challenging period we were all experiencing.

The elements of ‘Brand and product differentials’ are commonly recognized in the marketing field as the “communication of the brand image” and have a more informative purpose. This type of content creates an idea of uniqueness, which is related to how much the brand and its products differ from competitors in the customers’ minds [ 46 , 47 , 48 ]. Therefore, when communicating their image, the brands need to target a wider audience, which could justify the fact that this type of content has been broadcasted more on ‘weekdays’ and ‘free-to-air channels’, as observed in our results.

The second most frequent thematic category among the food-related ads was ‘Sound and visual effects’. Using sensory resources (e.g., ingredients mixing to form a delicious product and very creamy cheese wrapping a pasta dish) that engage the consumers’ sensory senses and affect their perception, judgment, and behavior, food companies make the product attractive and reaffirm the qualities of both the brand and the product [ 49 , 50 ]. In the context of COVID-19, ads classified in this category often employed emotionally evocative soundtracks, alluding to moments of uncertainty. Additionally, some ads associated sound with visual effects, for example, in the case of an ad that simulated a sea wave bringing a bottle (i.e., the beverage that was being advertised) and associated it with happy moments with friends on a summer day at the beach. These sound and visual effects could have been used in association to reinforce the message that happy days would come back.

A survey with seventy-two participants of two nationalities (Chinese and Danish) demonstrated that specifically tailored music can direct consumers’ visual attention to specific foods, suggesting that the brain does indeed integrate multiple streams of sensory information during decision-making [ 51 ]. Furthermore, initial research has suggested that certain sound effects can aid in enhancing viewers' recollection of an advertised product and increase their attentiveness to the ad [ 52 , 53 ]. Visual effects can effectively convey persuasive messages, swiftly capturing viewers' attention and stimulating consumer demand [ 54 ]. For example, an ad showing a chocolate bar melting generates the sensation of dynamism and movement and the spectator continues to remember the image in movement. Consequently, this strategy encourages consumers to spend more time engaging with the ad [ 50 ].

Given these characteristics, it is understandable why ‘sound and visual effects’ were more frequent in the ads broadcasted on ‘pay-per-view’ channels, which primarily target children in Brazil. A review of marketing strategies employed by food and beverage companies for communicating with children on TV showed the frequent use of visual effects (e.g., animation, fast cutting, slow motion, dynamic images) are among the five more commonly used strategies [ 55 ]. ‘Sound and visual’ effects were also more common on weekend days when individuals have different eating behaviors in relation to the days of the week. Consumers are more likely to consume more palatable meals and foods on Saturdays and Sundays that escape the usual routine. Brazilians’ energy intake and ultra-processed food consumption are higher on weekends compared to weekdays [ 56 ].

‘Thematic campaigns’ was the third most common thematic category in the food-related ads broadcasted on Brazilian TV during COVID-19. Thematic advertising campaigns are intended to communicate with specific audiences. In the context of our study, one of these audiences is youth and adults. We found some ads with emotional appeal focused on Valentine’s Day (celebrated in Brazil on June 12) that associated the consumption of a food product with the celebration of couples and happy moments. The ads emphasized how couples were facing this moment together and promoted special events for Valentine’s Day as “Brahma Live”, with performances by famous singers in Brazil sponsored by a beer brand. Thus, ads created a new way of communication that uses storytelling to establish emotional connections with customers. According to Elías Zambrano et al. (2018), storytelling is a powerful marketing tool that enhances brand visibility by creating superior advertisement production quality and heightened sensitivity. This is especially true for television advertising, where the effective use of storytelling techniques sets certain brands apart from others [ 57 ].

Furthermore, some ads in ‘thematic campaigns’ targeted women directly, emphasizing product uniqueness and special production methods to promote health benefits and overall well-being. Within the context of the COVID-19 crisis, one ad depicted the human throat as a common site for SARS-CoV-2, suggesting the use of certain drops as a preventive measure. A document from the Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI) has already pointed out the claims used by the food industry that some foods or beverages act as a booster for the immune system in the era of COVID-19 [ 32 ]. These claims create a misleading "halo of health" around low-nutritional-quality food and beverage products, potentially leading to misinformed dietary choices [ 58 ], particularly concerning individuals vulnerable to the fear of illness during a pandemic.

Engagement with the children’s audience was also noted within the ‘thematic campaigns’ category. We noticed an array of aspects, such as auditory appeals (e.g., children’s language and jingles); visual appeals (e.g., graphic design, animation); appeal to fun, taste, fantasy, adventure, or action; and the use of promotional characters. The companies also directed the ads to families, especially to mothers. These messages used images of children and women and were related to the act of caring and the concern of feeding children with quality products; through emotional appeals, they were able to involve the viewer. This thematic category was predominantly broadcasted on ‘pay-per-view’ channels and in the afternoon. While specific data on the peak TV viewing times for different age groups in Brazil is not publicly available, it is common for Brazilian children to spend several hours watching TV, particularly as they attend school part-time, either in the morning or afternoon. Thus, the afternoon can be considered a strategic time for food companies to directly target children [ 59 ]. Additionally, due to the limited children's programming on free-to-air channels, mostly restricted to a few hours during weekend mornings, 'pay-per-view' channels have become a primary attraction for children, thereby becoming a crucial target for the food and beverage industry's advertising efforts [ 19 , 20 ].

Social responsibility content represented the fourth type of appeal included in the ‘thematic campaigns’ category. In this category, companies produced ads that presented solidarity campaigns, such as one major food delivery company that encouraged customers to order meals through their delivery app, with a promise to donate a meal to support vulnerable communities for every order placed. Additionally, another strategy of the companies was to present security measures that the companies were adopting to protect their employees and customers. This approach has been named COVID-washing by other authors and has been reported on food industry content posted on social media platforms from Australia, the United States, Uruguay, Argentina, Bolivia, and Guatemala [ 34 , 60 , 61 , 62 , 63 ]. In the context of the pandemic, food industries disseminated symbolic information about their contributions to health and well-being. Companies use this approach to build an image of a responsible and committed company, as consumers prefer food brands that care about society, the environment, and/or their employees [ 47 , 48 ].

The category ‘Digitalization’ emerges as a thematic category in 1 out of every 5 TV ads. Although TV is still one of the main channels of communication, the digital era, characterized by the significant influence of the Internet and digital technologies, has also promoted a change in advertising [ 64 ]. Currently, advertising content is becoming increasingly interactive, spanning multiple communication channels, enabling personalized content and a more extensive reach to diverse audiences [ 65 ]. This was observed in our study through the ads that presented elements of ‘digitization’, such as the presence of QR codes and links.

The category ‘digitization’ was more frequent in pay-per-view channels. However, the digital elements were not directed to children (for example, links to download games), as previously shown by other studies [ 55 ]. In our study, the main links were aimed at the family, when informing about a product or providing offers from a supermarket. In the context of COVID-19, links were also used to direct the viewer to websites containing information on the protective measures adopted by companies (e.g., food delivery companies) to prevent the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 among their employees and consumers. Moreover, companies shared links and/or QR codes to facilitate secure and convenient online purchases.

In Brazil, online purchases grew during the pandemic, and a food delivery market monitoring survey showed that 68% of Brazilian users ( n  = 1,500) of these platforms use the service on weekends [ 66 ]. This may justify that ads containing digitization elements are served more on weekends. Additionally, the growing prominence of e-commerce, coupled with the rising usage of smartphones for food purchases among Brazilians, further supports the prevalence of ads featuring digital elements, especially during weekend broadcasts.

Our findings also revealed that the thematic categories ‘convenience’ and ‘economic benefits’ represented a lower percentage of food-related ads. According to our analysis, this observation may be attributed to the innovative approaches adopted by the food industry in their advertising strategies. Consequently, while the literature suggests that convenience and affordability are commonly employed appeals in ads for ultra-processed foods [ 20 ], these two appeals may have been replaced by more casual and interactive messages, and with fewer commercial elements, to reach new customers.

In Brazil, food advertising during the COVID-19 pandemic moved away from strategies that emphasize convenience and price, with a deliberate alignment to the context of social distancing. Notably, companies predominantly adopted empathetic and solidarity-oriented messages, fostering a closer rapport between the brand and the consumer, reflecting a growing trend of humanizing the brand [ 33 ]. This strategic shift signifies the food industry's effort to self-promote through persuasive strategies, particularly during times of heightened vulnerability. Furthermore, the advertising strategies adopted by this industry aimed to generate market demand, influence the consumer purchase decision, and increase their loyalty to the supplier brands [ 33 ].

The last thematic category identified in this content analysis was ‘commensality and social interaction’. The term “commensality” refers to the positive social interactions that are associated with people eating together [ 67 ]. Eating together is an essential aspect highlighted in the Dietary Guidelines for the Brazilian population [ 68 ]. The food industry may have appropriated recommendations by the Brazilian dietary guidelines and included them in the ads, although the Ministry of Health document advocates a diet rich in natural foods, and nutritionally balanced meals, and promotes socially and environmentally sustainable food systems [ 68 ]. This appropriation has taken place at strategic moments, such as on weekends, when socialization appeal is already more frequent in TV ads, and on ‘free-to-air channels’, aiming to communicate with a more diversified audience.

Besides the day of the week, the time of the day, and the type of channel, another interesting feature that can help to understand how food advertising influences consumer choices is the variety of thematic categories used according to the duration of advertising. We observed that ads with longer duration had a greater diversity of thematic categories. This suggests that food companies leverage longer ad durations to incorporate a mix of themes. In our study, at least five of the seven identified thematic categories were most commonly featured in longer-duration ads. Longer-duration ads make it possible to use different appeals and communicate to different audiences. For example, an ad lasting ‘between 16 and 30 s’ contained appeals on commensality and social interaction in association with a QR code (i.e., digitization element), which allowed the consumer to know more about the advertised products. A potential inference is that longer ads have greater ‘power’, resulting in a stronger impact on consumers' consumption choices.

Our study contributes to the characterization of food advertising on Brazilian TV by employing an expanded and in-depth thematic content analysis of the power of strategies, a methodology not adopted by previous studies on the subject in the country. Our findings can help to understand how these thematic categories can potentially influence the consumer and how the broadcast of these ads in a non-random way during programming can be strategic for companies. Moreover, the results reinforce the need to continue to measure, monitor, and combat the use of persuasive techniques in food advertising. To address these issues, we propose some paths for future research and policy development. First, our results point to the need to carry out new studies on the subject, especially studies with an experimental design to understand how individuals are influenced by different patterns of marketing strategies. Second, it is necessary to impose regulatory limits that align with the nature of the identified marketing strategies, mainly on those that exploit the vulnerability of minors and lead consumers to errors on the profile of the advertised foods. Third, it is necessary to educate and empower the population about the nature of the persuasive strategies used in food ads and the harmful effects associated with the excessive consumption of ultra-processed foods.

Regarding the study limitations, first, thematic analysis is a subjective type of analysis. Therefore, data collection was carried out by two trained researchers, and any divergence was discussed and cross-verified with a third researcher to standardize all information and minimize subjectivity. Additionally, after completing the ‘treatment of the categories’ (step v of the thematic content analysis), the authors re-evaluated each ad to verify if all the thematic categories were correctly assigned to the ads. Second, the results represent food advertising during the first phase of the COVID-19 pandemic in Brazil. The thematic content of food ads may have changed as the pandemic advanced in the country.

The food and beverage companies employed diverse thematic categories and references to the COVID-19 pandemic to promote ultra-processed foods, engage with viewers, and stimulate product purchases. This promotional content was broadcast unevenly throughout the programming schedule, according to the day of the week, the time of day, the duration of the ad, and the type of TV channel. This demonstrates that food advertising on Brazilian TV during the COVID-19 pandemic is aligned with the context of the country’s health crisis and exhibits characteristics within programming.

Availability of data and materials

The datasets generated and/or analyzed during the current study are not publicly available but are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

Abbreviations

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Confidence interval

Global Health Advocacy Incubator

International Network for Food and Obesity/Non-Communicable Diseases Research, Monitoring and Action Support

Non-communicable diseases

World Health Organization

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This study received financial support of the Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) under the process number 442789/2019–0. This study was financed in part by the Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior—Brasil (CAPES)—Finance Code 001. The author R.M.C has a research scholarship from CNPq (Brazil) (311170/2019–6).

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Rodrigues MB participated in data collection and in the interpretation of the results and draft the article; Matos JP participated in data collection and in the interpretation of the results and revised the text critically for important intellectual content; Santana MO participated in data collection and revised the text critically for important intellectual content; Martins AP participated in the interpretation of the results and revised the text critically for important intellectual content; Claro RM participated in the interpretation of the results and revised the text critically for important intellectual content; Horta PM made substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work, participated in the interpretation of the results and revised the text critically for important intellectual content. All authors gave final approval of the version to be published.

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Does transanal drainage tubes placement have an impact on the incidence of anastomotic leakage after rectal cancer surgery? a systematic review and meta-analysis

  • Yating Liu 1   na1 ,
  • Xuhua Hu 2   na1 ,
  • Yu Huang 1 ,
  • Pengfei Zhang 1 ,
  • Yaoguang Hao 1 ,
  • Hongyan Li 1 &
  • Guiying Wang 3  

BMC Cancer volume  24 , Article number:  263 ( 2024 ) Cite this article

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Metrics details

Whether Transanal drainage tubes (TDTs) placement reduces the occurrence of anastomotic leakage (AL) after rectal cancer (RC) surgery remains controversial. Most existing meta-analyses rely on retrospective studies, while the prospective studies present an inadequate level of evidence.

A systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective studies on TDTs placement in RC patients after surgery was conducted. The main analysis index was the incidence of AL, Grade B AL, and Grade C AL, while secondary analysis index was the incidence of anastomotic bleeding, incision infection, and anastomotic stenosis. A comprehensive literature search was performed utilizing the databases Cochrane Library, Embase, PubMed, and Web of Science. We recorded Risk ratios (RRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for each included study, and a fixed-effect model or random-effect model was used to investigate the correlation between TDTs placement and four outcomes after RC surgery.

Seven studies (1774 participants, TDT 890 vs non-TDT 884) were considered eligible for quantitative synthesis and meta-analysis. The meta-analysis revealed that the incidence of AL was 9.3% (83/890) in the TDT group and 10.2% (90/884) in the non-TDT group. These disparities were found to lack statistical significance ( P  = 0.58). A comprehensive meta-analysis, comprising four studies involving a cumulative sample size of 1259 participants, revealed no discernible disparity in the occurrence of Grade B AL or Grade C AL between the TDT group and the non-TDT group (Grade B AL: TDT 34/631 vs non-TDT 26/628, P  = 0.30; Grade C AL: TDT 11/631 vs non-TDT 27/628, P  = 0.30). Similarly, the incidences of anastomotic bleeding (4 studies, 876 participants), incision infection (3studies, 713 participants), and anastomotic stenosis (2studies, 561 participants) were 5.5% (24/440), 8.1% (29/360), and 2.9% (8/280), respectively, in the TDT group, and 3.0% (13/436), 6.5% (23/353), and 3.9% (11/281), respectively, in the non-TDT group. These differences were also determined to lack statistical significance ( P  = 0.08, P  = 0.43, P  = 0.48, respectively).

The placement of TDTs does not significantly affect the occurrence of AL, Grade B AL, and Grade C AL following surgery for rectal cancer. Additionally, TDTs placement does not be associated with increased complications such as anastomotic bleeding, incision infection, or anastomotic stenosis.

Trial registration

PROSPERO: CRD42023427914

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Introduction

Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the most common malignancy of the digestive tract, with the third highest incidence of all malignancies worldwide and the second leading cause of cancer death [ 1 ].The incidence of rectal cancer (RC) in China has been on the rise [ 2 ]. As part of a comprehensive treatment, RC is currently treated with surgery. Due to the rapid development of Total Neoadjuvant Therapy (TNT), the multimodal approach in the treatment of rectal cancer and various anastomosis and reconstruction techniques in recent years, the treatment of RC with colorectal surgery has made great progress and the incidence of postoperative complications and dysfunction was also significantly reduced in some patients [ 3 ]. Nevertheless, anastomotic leakage (AL), a serious complication, remained prevalent [ 4 , 5 ].

Patients with AL have a poor prognosis, lengthy treatment times, and immense economic and psychological burdens, as well as complications such as peritonitis and sepsis [ 6 ].The occurrence of AL will also contribute to a higher local recurrence rate and a lower survival rate [ 7 ]. The factors influencing AL are not entirely clear at present. Several studies have shown that TDTs placement after the surgery of RC can reduce the risk of AL [ 6 , 8 , 9 ] or Grade C AL [ 10 ], but some studies have shown different results. The placement of TDTs can replace the effect of enterostomy in protecting the anastomosis and avoiding the reoperation, according to some researchers [ 11 ]. However, some researchers believe that TDTs placement will not reduce the occurrence of AL but may also cause anastomotic bleeding and intestinal perforation due to mechanical stimulation [ 6 ]. Therefore, through a systematic review and meta-analysis of TDTs placement and AL after RC surgery in prospective studies, this study further clarified the internal relationship between them, aiming to provide theoretical references for clinical practice.

Materials and methods

Literature search.

A comprehensive search was conducted across four prominent literature databases (Web of Science, Embase, Cochrane Library, PubMed) to identify records published in the English language prior to August 15, 2023. We used the terms "Rectal Neoplasms", "Anastomotic Leak", "Prospective Studies" as subject terms. As free words, I used "Rectum tumor", "transanal tube", "Transanal drainage tube", "Anastomotic Leakage", "Leaks, Anastomotic", "Prospective Study", "Study, Prospective" etc. In order to enhance the efficacy of retrieval outcomes, we integrated the subject term with an unrestricted term. Due to the absence of the subject term "Transanal drainage tube" in PubMed, an unrestricted term search was conducted for the object. To prevent research from being missed, further relevant studies were identified by manually searching references in the online databases and systematic reviews that have been previously published. The literature retrieval processes were comprehensively outlined in Table  1 .

Outcomes of interest and definition

Anastomotic leakage was defined as a defect in the intestinal wall at the anastomotic site that allows communication between the intraluminal and extraluminal compartments [ 12 ]. Grade A AL: Patients are usually free of clinical symptoms and laboratory abnormalities. There is no necessity for therapeutic intervention, as the patient exhibits clinical wellness. Grade B AL: Patients usually have abdominal pain, abdominal distension, and fever, and intra-operatively placed pelvic drains may discharge turbid/purulent or fecal fluid. The patient often needs aggressive interventions such as the implementation of antibiotic therapy, along with the utilization of pelvic drain placement or transanal lavage. Grade C AL: Patients are often quite ill and require operative re-laparotomy [ 12 ]. Anastomotic bleeding was defined as a notable decrease in hemoglobin and active and the presence of ongoing rectal bleeding were not associated with any other cause [ 13 ]. Anastomotic stenosis was defined as the 12-diameter mm colonoscopy cannot passes through the benign narrowing of the anastomosis. Incision infection was defined as an inflammation in the incision and bacterial growth in the incision secretion culture.

Study selection

We used inclusion criteria and exclusion criteria to screen literature related to this study. The following criteria were used to select the studies for the meta-analysis: (1) published as an original article; (2) belonged to prospective study; (3) evaluated the association between the placement of TDTs and the occurrence of AL after RC surgery; (4) given the number of participants.; (5) the risk estimates are presented alongside their respective 95% confidence intervals (95% CI). In the present study, we will proceed to exclude research investigations that are relevant to any of the following categories: (1) Emergency surgery; (2) review paper; (3) animal trials; (4) conference papers; (5) the full text is not accessible; (6) the data cannot be extracted.

Data extraction and quality assessment

The entirety of the articles' content was thoroughly examined during the review process. Data extraction and full-text review were carried out independently based on the preferred reporting items for systematic reviews, A Measurement Tool to Assess Systematic Review 2 (AMSTAR2) and meta-analyses (PRISMA) guidelines by two reviewers and the inconsistencies were rectified by a third author. To eliminate any instances of duplication, the extracted study will be imported into the Endnote Software X9.0, after which the titles and abstracts will be reviewed by two researchers. Furthermore, adherence to the MOOSE (meta-analysis of observational studies in epidemiology) guidelines is recommended [ 14 ]. The collection of data was carried out utilizing standardized forms that were developed by the research team. The information included in the data extraction will be as follows: year of publication, design of study, authors, the quantity of individuals participating in the study. Furthermore, we also conducted an examination of the clinical data and indicators: (1) design of study (Randomized controlled trials vs. Prospective Cohort study vs. Non-randomized controlled trials); (2) case/participants; (3) area (Asia vs. Europe); (4) publication year (≤ 2015 vs. > 2015); (5) quality score (≤ 7 vs. > 7).

Statistical analysis

The meta-analysis was conducted using the Review Manager 5.3 and Stata15.0 software programs. Given that this study obtained binary data from prospective studies, the effect size was determined by employing the risk ratio (RR) calculation. The I 2 index and Cochran's Q tests were utilized to quantify the levels of incoherence and heterogeneity among the studies, respectively. The I 2 index was assessed as a metric for evaluating the extent of heterogeneity across the studies. The data was examined through the utilization of a fixed-effect model in instances where there was an absence of heterogeneity ( P value from the \(\chi\) 2 test > 0.05 and I 2 statistic value < 50%) among studies, while a random-effects model was employed when heterogeneity was present ( P value from the \(\chi\) 2 test ≤ 0.05 and I 2 statistic value ≥ 50%) among studies. To explore potential causes of heterogeneity, sensitivity and subgroup analyses were conducted. Multiple confounding factors were present, including design of the study, quality score, area, and publication year. In addition, sensitivity analyses were carried out to evaluate the robustness of the primary results. Moreover, Egger's correlation tests accounted for the influence of publication bias, and a P value < 0.05 (*) was deemed to be statistically significant [ 15 ].

Search results

From the initial literature, 124 relevant studies were identified (10 studies from PubMed, 21 studies from Cochrane Library, 65 studies from Embase, and 28 studies from Web of Science). The first stage involved the elimination of duplicate articles based solely on titles among predefined databases. Due to duplication, 37 articles were excluded, leaving 87 articles for screening based on titles and abstracts. As well as the 58 studies we excluded, we also excluded studies in animals, case reports, and review articles. 29 studies were reviewed comprehensively. 16 articles were excluded for not reporting relevant results, 2 articles were excluded from the analysis due to unavailability of the full text, and 4 articles were excluded since data was not available. Ultimately, we included 7 articles including 1774 participants between 2006 and 2022 in our meta-analysis [ 4 , 9 , 13 , 16 , 17 , 18 ]. Fig.  1 illustrates the process of literature retrieval.

figure 1

Description of the entire process from literature retrieval to the selection of 7 target articles

Study characteristics, and quality assessment

Table 2 provided a comprehensive overview of the key attributes of the studies that were incorporated. A total of 1774 participants were involved in the 7 studies published between 2006 and 2022. These studies were carried out 1 in Japan, 1 in Denmark, 1 in France, and 4 in China. In addition, 1 was a non-randomized controlled trial, 4 studies were randomized controlled trials, and 2 were Prospective cohort studies. And TDTs placement has no inherent relationship with the occurrence of AL after RC surgery in all studies. Each study successfully adhered to all criteria pertaining to the avoidance of selection and outcome bias.

TDT placement and AL after RC surgery risk

In Fig.  2 , we extracted RRs from 7 studies after multivariable adjustment. We analyzed the data using a random-effects model to compare the association between TDTs placement and the occurrence of AL after RC surgery because of the presence of heterogeneity ( P  = 0.05, \(\mathrm{\rm I}\) 2  = 52%). The meta-analysis revealed that the occurrence of AL was 9.3% (83/890) in the TDT group and 10.2% (90/884) in the non-TDT group. Upon thorough analysis of the combined results from all tests, it was ascertained that there exists no statistically significant association between the placement of TDTs and the incidence of AL following RC surgery (RR = 0.89, 95%CI 0.57–1.37, P  = 0.58). Four studies [ 4 , 9 , 19 ] were identified that reported the occurrence of Grade B AL and Grade C AL, which were subsequently subjected to analysis. Upon analysis of the data on Grade B AL, the outcomes of the heterogeneity test indicated no statistically significant level of heterogeneity ( P  = 0.59, \(\mathrm{\rm I}\) 2  = 0%), thus leading to the adoption of the fixed-effect model. The findings from the meta-analysis indicate that the occurrence of Grade B AL in the TDT group was 5.4% (34/631), which did not exhibit a statistically significant disparity when compared to the 4.1% (26/628) observed in the non-TDT group (RR = 1.30, 95%CI 0.79 -2.14, P  = 0.30) (Fig.  3 ). The heterogeneity test indicated statistically significant heterogeneity in the data on Grade C AL ( P  = 0.09, I 2  = 55%), leading to the adoption of the random-effects model. Similar to the result of Grade B AL, the results of the meta-analysis demonstrate that the prevalence of Grade C AL in the TDT group was 1.7% (11/631), which did not display a statistically significant difference when compared to the (4.3% (27/628) observed in the non-TDT group (RR = 0.52, 95%CI: 0.16 ~ 1.77, P  = 0.30) (Fig.  4 ).

figure 2

A random-effect model was used to analyze the RRs of 7 articles to compare the association between transanal drainage tubes placement and the occurrence of anastomotic leakage after rectal cancer surgery. RR = 0.89, 95%CI 0.57–1.37, P  = 0.58

figure 3

A fixed-effect model was used to analyze the RRs of 4 articles to compare the association between transanal drainage tubes placement and the occurrence of Grade B anastomotic leakage after rectal cancer surgery. RR = 1.30, 95%CI 0.79–2.14, P  = 0.30

figure 4

A random-effect model was used to analyze the RRs of 4 articles to compare the association between transanal drainage tubes placement and the occurrence of Grade C anastomotic leakage after rectal cancer surgery. RR = 0.52, 95%CI 0.16–1.77, P  = 0.30

Subgroup analyses were conducted by area, design of the study, publication year, and quality score (Table  3 ). Initially, a subgroup analysis was performed according to area. The findings from the Asian subgroup (RR = 0.68,95%CI 0.47 ~ 1.00, P  = 0.05), comprising five studies [ 4 , 9 , 13 , 16 , 18 ], indicated that the placement of TDTs effectively prevented AL. Conversely, the results from the European subgroup (RR = 1.61,95%CI 1.03 ~ 2.52, P  = 0.04), consisting of two studies [ 17 , 19 ], demonstrated a significant correlation between TDTs placement and a heightened occurrence of AL. Moreover, the subgroup analyses concerning variables such as the design of study, publication year, and quality score resulted in inconclusive findings ( P  = 0.17, P  = 0.38, P  = 0.92, respectively). Detailed results of the subgroup analysis are presented in Table  3 .

TDTs placement and other clinic outcomes risk

In this study, the correlation between the placement of TDTs and anastomotic bleeding, incision infection, and anastomotic stenosis was further investigated. Due to the lack of significant heterogeneity among the studies, a fixed-effect model was used. Studies found no statistically significant association between the placement of TDTs and anastomotic bleeding (RR = 1.77, 95%CI 0.94 -3.33, P  = 0.08), incision infection (RR = 1.24, 95%CI 0.73 -2.09, P  = 0.43), or anastomotic stenosis (RR = 0.73, 95%CI 0.30 -1.77, P  = 0.48). The comprehensive findings are presented in Table  4 .

Sensitivity analysis

To investigate potential sources of heterogeneity, a sensitivity analysis was conducted. Fig.  5 shows the sensitivity analysis results. Except for any individual study, the collective findings exhibited a range of 0.69(95%CI = 0.56–0.78) to 1.21(95%CI = 1.08–1.42). The findings of the study indicate that the exclusion of a single study did not yield any significant disparity between the combined RR and the total RR. This suggests that the placement of TDTs following RC surgery does not exhibit any correlation with a reduced occurrence of AL. As a result, the main result is robustness.

figure 5

Sensitivity analyses were performed to investigate potential sources of heterogeneity and showed the main result was robustness. The overall results ranged from 0.69(95%CI = 0.56–0.78) to 1.21(95%CI = 1.08–1.42)

Publication bias

To identify the presence of publication bias within the studies that were included, both the Egger test and Egger test plot were employed (Fig.  6 ). The analysis concluded that there was no substantial evidence of publication bias between the placement of TDTs and the occurrence of AL after RC surgery by Egger's test ( P  = 0.10).

figure 6

Egger test and Egger test plot were performed to confirm that there was no significant publication bias between the placement of transanal drainage tubes and the occurrence of anastomotic leakage after rectal cancer surgery. P  = 0.10

Disscussion

Currently, a variety of adjuvant therapy techniques and anastomosis methods are used to treat RC, which results in a higher rate of Sphincter Preserve. However, the incidence of AL after RC surgery is still at a high level. Therefore, a clear understanding of the risk factors and protective factors of AL can bring great benefits to patients. The TDTs is used to drain the proximal intestinal contents and reduce the stimulation of the anastomoses. It can reduce intestinal cavity pressure and the tension of anastomoses. However, there is no consensus on whether the placement of TDTs can reduce the occurrence of AL.

AL following RC surgery cannot be reduced with the placement of TDTs, according to 7 prospective studies in this study. At the level of the original study, according to Tumura [ 16 ] and Zhao [ 4 ] there was no statistical significance between the placement of TDTs and AL, which is consistent with our findings. Meanwhile, the study of Xiao [ 9 ] and Zhao [ 13 ] demonstrated that TDTs placement was a protective factor for AL. Additionally, meta-analyses of the placement of TDTs and AL after RC surgery have had inconsistent results. A meta-analysis of Deng [ 20 ] found that TDTs placement reduced AL incidence in low-risk patients (OR = 0.29, 95%CI = 0.13–0.63, P  = 0.002), but not in high-risk patients undergoing neoadjuvant treatment. The meta-analysis conducted by Zhao [ 10 ]found no significant association between the placement of TDTs and the prevalence of AL. However, it did reveal a reduction in the occurrence of Grade C AL (RR = 0.33, 95%CI = 0.11–1.01, P  = 0.05). The discrepancies in the results between Deng [ 20 ], Zhao [ 10 ], and this study may be attributed to the inclusion of different types of studies and Differences in sample size. Deng [ 20 ] included both prospective and retrospective studies, this study included prospective studies, and Zhao [ 10 ] only included randomized controlled trials. In Guo's [ 21 ] subgroup analysis of the meta-analysis, it was determined that TDTs placement did not exhibit a significant association with the low incidence of AL in randomized controlled trials. However, in observational studies, there was a notable association between TDTs placement and the occurrence of low AL. This finding underscores the influence of study design on the obtained results. Among the seven original papers included by Deng [ 20 ] it is noteworthy that only three of them were prospective studies. Consequently, the divergent conclusion reached by Deng's [ 20 ] study in comparison to the present study can plausibly be attributed to the heterogeneity of results arising from the inclusion of distinct study types. This study exhibits a degree of resemblances to the studies conducted by Deng [ 20 ] and Zhao [ 10 ]. Nevertheless, Deng's [ 20 ] research primarily centers on retrospective studies. The limited evidentiary value of retrospective cohort studies hinders the broad applicability of their findings. Despite the inclusion of the most rigorous randomized controlled trials in Zhao's [ 10 ] study, it was relying solely on three primary research papers. In contrast, this study incorporated seven prospective studies. In comparison to Deng's [ 20 ] study, the prospective studies integrated into this study entail rigorous data quality control during case screening. This practice serves to mitigate the bias arising from case–control studies to a certain degree, thereby enhancing the reliability of the findings. Furthermore, it encompassed a greater volume of original literature and a larger sample size than Zhao’s [ 10 ] study. As a result, this study provides a higher level of evidence and relatively more reliable outcomes.

AL was categorized into one of three grades (Grade A, B, or C) based on its influence on clinical management [ 12 ]. Presently, there is a consensus within the academic community regarding the placement of TDTs to alleviate the severity of AL. When AL ensues, the anal sphincter frequently persists in contracting because of inflammation, pain, and other causative factors. Furthermore, AL frequently manifests during the initial postoperative phase, when the intestinal function has not been restored, and the intestinal contents cannot be eliminated in time, resulting in intestinal high pressure. Physical stimulation caused by high pressure in the intestinal cavity and chemical stimulation caused by intestinal contents is not conducive to the healing of the AL. Drainage of intestinal contents by placing TDTs reduces pressure in the lumen and promotes fecal excretion [ 9 , 22 ], thus promoting recovery of AL. The findings of this meta-analysis indicate that there is no significant correlation between TDTs placement and a reduced occurrence of AL following RC surgery (RR = 0.89, 95%CI 0.57–1.37, P  = 0.58). Considering the following three factors, the relationship between TDTs placement and the incidence of different grades AL was analyzed: (1) Distinct grades of AL necessitate distinct clinical management principles, (2) Grade C AL is of significant concern, as it necessitates a subsequent surgical intervention and escalates the likelihood of restomy and other postoperative complications, (3) TDTs placement can reduce the severity of AL. Given that only four studies in the original literature included recorded the detailed incidence of AL across all levels, it is noteworthy that two out of these four studies did not document the occurrence of Grade A AL. As a result, the present study directed its analysis towards Grade B AL and Grade C AL, while excluding Grade A AL from consideration. The findings of this research indicate that the implementation of TDTs does not result in a decrease in the occurrence of Grade B AL or Grade C AL. Based on the analysis of data from three randomized controlled trials, Zhao’s study determined that the p-value for the association between TDTs placement and the occurrence of Grade C AL was 0.05. Consequently, the researchers of the study of Zhao [ 10 ] reached the determination that the placement of TDTs could potentially yield positive outcomes in mitigating Grade C AL. However, Zhao’s [ 10 ]study did not yield any statistically significant association between the placement of TDTs and the mitigation of Grade B AL. This research group holds a dissenting perspective on the notion that the implementation of TDTs is incapable of diminishing the occurrence of minor Grade B AL, yet it can effectively mitigate the prevalence of severe Grade C AL, while nor does Zhao’s [ 10 ] article offer an explanation for the possible underlying mechanism. As a result, this study augmented the sample size and arrived at an alternative conclusion, namely, the placement of TDTs does not exhibit no correlation with the low occurrence of Grade C AL. This finding suggests that while the placement of TDTs may mitigate the severity of AL, it does not have a significant impact on the occurrence rate of AL.

Furthermore, the present study revealed that the placement of TDTs did not result in a higher occurrence of postoperative complications, including anastomotic bleeding, incision infection, and anastomotic stenosis. The drainage of TDTs, to a certain extent, can support the anastomotic stoma and can be used to detect complications such as anastomotic bleeding and anastomotic infection early, which allows clinicians to take action timely. By using anoscopes and other instruments under direct vision, at the same time, TDTs with moderate hardness was selected, which can minimize the injury of the anastomosis. TDTs of appropriate size and hardness will not cause injury and bleeding of anastomosis. Hence, in cases of AL, the placement of an economical, efficient, and secure TDTs can be employed as a measure to mitigate the extent of AL.

Positive results were observed exclusively in subgroup analysis conducted on area, revealing that TDTs placement served as a protective factor for AL in the Asian group, whereas it posed a risk in the European group. This outcome could potentially be attributed to variations in the study's sample size, discrepancies in the assessment of AL, and the utilization of diverse types of TDTs.

Several factors contribute to AL, and more studies are being conducted to determine the causes and development of AL. It has been confirmed that some factors are closely related to AL's development, such as albumin levels lower than 4 g/dL [ 23 ] and operation time longer than 3 h [ 5 ]. As a common clinical treatment, the placement of TDTs has low technical requirements and is suitable for hospitals of every level. Multiple studies have documented the occurrence of unfavorable incidents associated with the placement of TDTs subsequent to RC surgery, with anal pain being the most frequently reported complication [ 4 ]. Due to the lack of comprehensive documentation regarding adverse events following TDTs placement in the original literature included in this meta-analysis, statistical analysis pertaining to such events was not performed in this study. The visual analogue scale was employed to assess the pain perception experienced by the patients, which is also suitable for the assessment of anal pain after the placement of TDTs. The score ranges from 0 to 10, where 0 denotes the absence of pain and 10 signifies the most severe pain that can be imagined [ 24 ]. The pain was subsequently categorized into four distinct levels. No pain: score of 0, indicating the absence of pain; Mild pain: score of 1–3, representing pain that is tolerable; Moderate pain: score of 4–6, indicating pain that may disrupt sleep but remains tolerable; Severe pain: score of 7–10, signifying pain that is unbearable. A randomized controlled study found that TDTs placement caused anal pain in 46.4% of patients, moderate pain in 3.9%, and unbearable pain in 3 patients [ 4 ]. What's more, other studies have documented iatrogenic perforation resulting from the placement of TDTs [ 6 , 25 ], as well as cases necessitating emergency laparotomy due to such perforations [ 25 ]. In addition, studies have reported that no expected drainage effect occurs after the placement of TDTs, manifested as fecal discharge from the anus rather than from the TDTs [ 4 ].Despite the lack of correlation between the placement of TDTs and the occurrence of AL after RC surgery. However, it is considered that the placement of TDTs can reduce the severity of AL, and healthcare professionals can enhance patient outcomes by proactively optimizing preoperative nutrition, limiting surgical duration to a maximum of three hours, and implementing the placement of TDTs following AL. The placement of TDTs helps to discharge the intestinal contents in time, which is conducive to reducing the length of hospital stay. Studies have found that patients with high-risk factors for anastomotic leakage, such as diabetes and open surgery, have a higher probability of readmissions within 30 days [ 26 ]. The placement of TDTs positively affects the timely and rapid detection of intestinal abnormalities. Thus, the disease can be treated earlier and the reoperation rate can be reduced.

There are several strengths of this meta-analysis: All relevant prospective studies ( n  = 7) from recent years with rich data and high statistical power were included. In addition, our study included recently published randomized controlled trials and more participants ( n  = 1774) than previous meta-analyses. Finally, a sensitivity analysis was performed to assess the potential influence of utilizing adjusted risk ratios on the aggregated effect estimates.

There remain certain limitations within this study. Primarily, the present meta-analyses were unable to mitigate heterogeneity, whether in the overall population or in subgroup analyses. Furthermore, while gender and age are commonly recognized as confounding factors in numerous studies, there exist additional variables that may also hold significant importance, such as the type of TDTs, presence of diverting stoma, and utilization of Neoadjuvant therapy, which may also possess considerable significance. However, none of these phenomena have been thoroughly investigated. The third aspect pertains to the highly intricate and diverse nature of AL. The existing model is incapable of mitigating this heterogeneity. Fourth, the sample size of some included documents is small, and the statistical impact may exhibit constraints, thereby posing challenges in terms of generalizability of the findings.

Conclusions

In conclusion, the placement of TDTs does not yield significant results in terms of reducing the occurrence of AL after RC surgery, including Grade B AL, and Grade C AL. Furthermore, TDTs placement does not lead to heightened complications such as anastomotic bleeding, incision infection, or anastomotic stenosis. Based on the potential for anal pain, iatrogenic perforation, and limited efficacy associated with TDTs placement, we advise against the immediate placement of TDTs following RC surgery. The findings of this research are derived from a compilation of seven prospective studies. Given the current scarcity of data and the variability observed among studies, the conclusion remains subject to scrutiny. Consequently, future investigations should prioritize the implementation of meticulously planned randomized controlled trials with substantial sample sizes to corroborate this assertion.

Availability of data and materials

The raw data supporting the conclusions of this article will be made available by the authors, without undue reservation.

Abbreviations

  • Transanal drainage tubes
  • Anastomotic leakage
  • Rectal cancer

Risk ratios

Confidence intervals

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This work was supported by the Hebei Provincial Natural Science Foundation precision medicine joint project (H2020206485) and Hebei Provincial Department of science and technology key project (206Z7705G).

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Yating Liu and Xuhua Hu contributed equally to this work and co-first authors..

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Department of Gastrointestinal Surgery, the Third Hospital of Hebei Medical University, Shijiazhuang, P.R. China

Yating Liu, Yu Huang, Xu Yin, Pengfei Zhang, Yaoguang Hao & Hongyan Li

The Second General Surgery, the Fourth Hospital of Hebei Medical University, Shijiazhuang, P.R. China

Department of Gastrointestinal Surgery, the Second Hospital of Hebei Medical University, Shijiazhuang, P.R. China

Guiying Wang

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Yating Liu, Xuhua Hu, Hongyan Li, and Guiying Wang contributed to the conception and design of the study. Yating Liu, Yu Huang, Xu Yin, Pengfei Zhang, and Yaoguang Hao acquired and analyzed the data. Yating Liu and Xuhua Hu drafted and revised a significant portion of the manuscript or figures. Xu Yin and Yaoguang Hao conducted the statistical analysis. Yating Liu, Xuhua Hu, and Yu Huang wrote the paper. All authors read and approved the present version of the manuscript to be published.

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Liu, Y., Hu, X., Huang, Y. et al. Does transanal drainage tubes placement have an impact on the incidence of anastomotic leakage after rectal cancer surgery? a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Cancer 24 , 263 (2024). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12885-024-11990-8

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