Rhetorical Analysis of an Anti-smoking Advertisement


Effective advertising requires creativity that applies different rhetoric tools. It is worth to note that use of images in print media adverts is a common practice. Convincing the viewer to buy a given product or shun a bad habit entails blend of pictures and words. In this case, a smoking room ceiling mural advert shows the fate of smokers. Like any other advert, this anti-smoking campaign advert emphasizes concept of logical fallacy, organization of an advert, and effect of personality.

Smoking room ceiling mural


An advert featured in Snope.com exhibit application of rhetoric techniques to ensure effective conveyance of the message on risks of smoking. This advert shows a room with the ceiling mural that depicts a grave. The advert gives a warning to smokers on the cost of the habit. The smoking room has the ceiling painted with a bold and visible burial mural. The artist and the advert agency target both smoking and non-smoking community. As the smokers engage in taking puffs, the sight of such a ceiling sends shivers to their spine. In that regard, they are able to reconsider their addictive behavior.


In the advert, the artist has applied several persuasive techniques to capture the attention of the audience and pass a convincing message (Gunter 89). This advert seeks to arouse the view and thoughts of its audience on the ultimate price of smoking cigarettes. The smokers are in a room, which is lying below a grave symbolizing coffin. At the top of the grave is a bishop and mourners apparently bidding farewell to the dead before covering them with soil. The presence of the Bishop on top of a graveside with smokers enjoying themselves oblivious of the danger is a clear indication of just how cigarettes smokers court death unknowingly. The artist’s exaggeration target existing and prospective smokers who do not believe that smoking is deadly. The creative presentation of smokers inside a room with soil precariously hanging above their head offers a convincing ground for any audience that see the advert.

In this work Logos as a rhetoric tool is evident. In fact the artist portrays indisputable logic in terms of roles of various people and objects in the advert. In common understanding, the advert communicates the impending danger of tobacco among the cigarettes smokers (Rail 179). The audience is able to deduce that smoking has no advantage whatsoever. The aspect of deadly consequences of smoking is achieved by the application of objects positioning such that a visual appeal is created (Gunter 92). Graphic design, size, spacing, texture and color variation demonstrates how the artist possesses active command of the piece of art. There is color tone transition from the smokers’ location, the mouth of the grave and the outside where Mourners and bishop stand. While the room has smooth texture on the sides symbolizing coffin, the rough texture of the soil hanging just on top of the grave evokes the reality of burial in progress. The work looks original as the smokers, mourners and bishop are real people. However, the artist offer limited explanation on any positive effect of smoking. Instead, the exaggeration emphasizes death as the absolute end of a smoker. Besides, the effects on secondary smokers are not featured.

The advert provides concrete evidence into the societal loss of people when they succumb to smoking-related infections. The artist offers attractive information pertaining to the loss of life to smoking. The viewer can easily note the theme of the advert that discourages smoking, and it influences a negative attitude towards cigarettes addiction. Mourners and bishop depicts members of the society that stand to lose and sympathize with the tobacco addicts.

The concept of Pathos is well presented in the advert. At the sight of grave and people destined to be buried from smoking, a strong emotional appeal is provoked on the audience. Death is widely feared and the artist’s depiction of a burial initiate empathy towards the cigarettes smoke victims. Any viewer will internally synthesize and conclude the outcome of cigarettes smoking and the poisonous content of tobacco.

The organization of the advert portrays creativity and yields significant attraction of audience. The physical attraction has been created by the way the artist employed colors, texture, graphics sizes and styles, and space. These features gave this advert a great visual appeal in its totality. The color inside the grave is fairly dull while the mouth of the grave is dark depicting imminent burial. The artist placed the smokers underground and mourners on top to emphasize that smoking is the subject of discussion. It can also be depicted from the advert that the bishop is offering last prayer before the smokers can be buried. The positioning of objects in the advert makes it easy for one to see the smokers as the dead from their action. Close scrutiny of the smokers’ posture and mood depicts relaxation with complete ignorance to the consequences of their action. The systematic presentation of action, mood and consequences made it easy for the advertisement to convey the message to the smokers and non-smokers. With a twist of hilarious depiction of the smokers reluctantly enjoying cigarettes while their burial is abound, the author’s idea attracts attention of the readers to look at the advert (Rail 183). The author’s choice of objects, their positioning, color, texture and mood is deliberate and effective. In that respect, the advert exhibit personality effect (Percy and Richard 114).

The advert also presents logical fallacies (Kaye 54). In this advert, some of the outstanding logical fallacies include over exaggerated mood of the smokers and the how the grave is presented. These depictions are not clear and give an indifferent impression to the people reading the advert. This shows that logical fallacies need to be minimized in adverts as they most like create false impressions to the audience.


Critical aspects of rhetoric techniques in adverts can be concluded in this work. The advertising agency is accurate in terms of target audience. Besides, the artist has shown creative and critical thinking in expressing a serious issue in a simplified but captivating form. The overriding effect of image on people and the power of symbolism is evident in this advert. In fact, rhetoric techniques are boosted by visual presentation and symbolic interpretation. The advert in question has utilized key concepts hence effective in meeting its set objectives.

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