Smoking is an epidemic that has persistently plagued the us population for over a



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Ad Analysis

Smoking is an epidemic that has persistently plagued the US population for over a

century. Because of the harsh effects that smoking can cause, many organizations, including

federal agencies, have employed various methods of anti-advertisements to denounce the use of

cigarettes. Through its use of intense imagery and sinister tone, the US Food and Drug

Administration’s commercial “The Real Cost: Your Skin” condemns the use of tobacco products

and is able to successfully publicize the real costs that smoking can cause to users, both old and

young.


The Real Cost: Your Skin” uses several appeal techniques, such as pathos and logos, to

help it stand out as a successful anti-advertisement. The commercial opens showing a run down,

isolated gas station on a dreary night, setting the scene for the overall tone of the commercial. As

the shot begins to zoom in, viewers are able to notice a large, flickering sign in the shape of a

frightening clown located near the gloomy convenient store. The clown, as well as the worn

down nature of the sign and the light that it emits, indicate the grave effects that smoking can

cause. As the commercial transitions to the next scene, viewers can observe the glowing lights

that emanate from inside the store, creating a sharp contrast with the darkness of the night. The

commercial then progresses inside the store, where a young girl requests to buy a pack of

cigarettes from the older clerk. However, the clerk replies, “You need a little bit more, honey,” denoting that cigarettes have more of an effect than many believe. As the store worker lowers herhead and eyes in disappointment, the girl agonizingly rips off part of the skin from her cheek andshamefully sets it on the counter. In a somewhat more upbeat tone, the store worker replies to the girl saying she will see her again, depicting the addictive nature of cigarettes. In this commercial, the young girl is not only losing her smooth skin due to cigarettes, but she is also losing her self- control because she is becoming so addicted. The commentator can then be heard warning viewers that smoking can cause premature wrinkles. Although young cigarette users, like the girl in the commercial, might feel older and more mature by smoking at a young age, they will pay for the consequences overtime as a result of its effects. Finally, the commercial closes with the commentator asking the audience, “What are cigarettes costing you?” Cigarettes have more than just a monetary effect, and by concluding with this statement, viewers are urged to question themselves to see if the effects of smoking are actually worth it.

“The Real Cost: Your Skin” highlights the grave effects that smoking can cause by

tapping into the viewers’ emotions, as well as presenting logical information to condemn

smoking. Based on the age of the main character in the commercial, the FDA is targeting

teenagers and young adults in order to compel them to quit smoking at early stages. The FDA

states, “Every day in the United States, more than 2,600 youth under age 18 smoke their first

cigarette… In fact, tobacco use is almost always started and established during adolescence”

(“The Real Cost Campaign”). By showing young viewers some of the harsh side effects that

smoking can cause, the FDA is trying to convince them that the consequences are not worth the

temporary gratification and that they should abandon this habit before they become addicted. In

addition, this commercial reveals a simple yet effective fact towards at the end of the

commercial, which resonates with the viewer because of its severity. By saying that smoking

causes premature wrinkles in such a straightforward manor, viewers are left in apprehension and

mystery as the commercial commences. This use of logos is effective in conveying to the

viewers that smoking actually does have an undesirable impact.

In addition to this commercial’s logical appeal, it also utilizes pathos to call upon the

viewers’ emotions through its ominous tone and graphic imagery. The use of emotional appeal

in “The Real Cost: Your Skin” plays a very important role in the success of this anti-

advertisement because of the fear that is evoked during the commercial. Kevin Roberts, CEO of

Saatchi and Saatchi Advertising states, “What consumers want now is an emotional

connection—they want to be able to connect with what’s behind the brand, what’s behind the

promise “ (“The Persuaders: Introduction”). Although there have been other ads attempting to

stop the public from smoking, “The Real Cost: Your Skin” is particularly effective in

condemning smoking because of its more aggressive approach, especially relating to pathos. As

the girl in this commercial pulls off a layer of her own skin in order to pay for the cigarettes, fear

and disgust is instilled in the viewers. By showing the girl in such agony, viewers subconsciously

put themselves in her place and realize that they do not want to experience this level of pain.

Additionally, the fact that the girl was pulling off her skin was also important in contributing to

the overall effectiveness of the ad. Because beauty is so highly valued in our society today,

publicizing that smoking can cause wrinkles is an automatic turn off, particularly for young girls

who place a significant amount of focus on their appearance. Many viewers do not wish to

voluntarily get wrinkles, so by leaving the viewers disturbed as they watch this scene, this anti-

advertisement campaign proves to be quite persuasive.

Overall, the FDA’s “The Real Cost: Your Skin” is effective in conveying their message

against smoking to the viewers. With its use of grave imagery and enduring facts, this anti-

advertisement is able to make a lasting impact by leaving fear and mystery fixed in the minds of



the viewers. The use of pathos and logos in “The Real Cost: Your Skin” effectively denounces

the use of cigarettes and publicizes the real costs that smoking can cause.

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