Assignment 6


Rhetoric is a mean of argumentation that is used to produce an effect of truth, to convince, which can also represent a way of oppressive and achieving power on over one person, one group. It is often depicted as the art of persuasion.

Simons defines « persuasion » as followed : « persuasion is human communication designed to influence the autonomous judgments and actions of others ». It is not coercitive, nor helpt by any material mean such as money.

In Sonesson’s paper, those concept are largely applied in various ways :

Sonesson divides rhetoric into 5 big categories :

  • inventio : what to talk about, how to influence
  • dispositio : the structure, putting the discourse in order
  • elocutio : stylistic elaboration
  • memoria
  • actio

He emphasizes the fact that in rhetoric and in the process of persuasion, there is most importantly a process of communication implying 2 parts : the creator of the message, and the concretisor, whch perceive the message. There is no message without someone to concretize this message, the receptor.

He then explains how the process of persuasion relies on doxa, that is to say presuppositions that are most of the time very specific to a particular socio cultural context. To illustrate this statement, the author takes for instance the example of a Turkish advertisement for cars : the cars were associated with burgers, which make no sense at all from a Westerner’s point of view. The westerner will see the car associated with food, consumerism, bad health… whereas the Turkish will directly comprehend that the message embedded in the advertisement is that the car repair is as fast and easy as a fast food.

The other example developed is the one of Sweden, a country from where is created both Ikea and Absolut Vodka. Whereas Ikea reinvendicate its Swedish roots as a strong point of the brand, Absolut does not rely on this aspect at all and on the contrary hides it. For the US campaign of Absolute, the persuasive strategy was to show Absolut as part of the « old-continent patrimony », whereas Sweden as in fact nothing to do with Anthic Greece, Naple or so…

Here we can see according to the author that rhetoric as elocutio proceeds through a symbolic reorganization of the world.

We can very well illustrate this last point with the example of the beer Desperados. It is a Tequila flavoured beer, which name and imagery rely on Western-centric vision of Mexico. The Mint flavoured Desperados is called « Verde », the logo features the spanish ytraduction of beer « Cerveza » , a sunrise, grass, a lizard… to convey the idea of exotism in the western’s imagination of what Mexico and Mexican culture is. The packaging relies on red, green and white colors, the colours of the mexican flag. In an ad we can see a special type of Desperados which because of its spicy flavour is called « Fuego »




Since the beer is by no way mexican but produced in France by a French compagny, we can here get the persuasive idea of reorganization of the world through steretypical and visual doxas. It relies on preconceptions of what is Mexican’s culture, that only Westerner are sharing, to produce a convincing marketing argument through a various set of symbols. The advertisement campaogn and the imagery of Desperados relies then paradoxically on its own consumers paradigm of thoughts and imaginations, showing once again the double-sided dimension of persuasion : when it comes to rhetoric and persuasion, the concretisor is as important as the creator of the message.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *