The average American living in a city sees an estimated 5000 advertisements a day. Rarely is a blank space unfilled. It is becoming increasingly important to view these ads with thoughtful criticism. Identifying fallacies (errors) in arguments as they are presented to you can help you to become more media literate, educated consumer. The top three pizza chains spend just over half a billion dollars annually on media (Domino’s $185.5 million, Pizza Hut $219.6 million, and Papa Johns $112 million). They are no exception to using fallacious arguments to ultimately persuade the audience to buy their pizza.
The pizza commercial above depicts a heartfelt conversation shared between a father and his son over pizza at CiCi’s. The father is ranting about consistency in baseball while perusing the buffet. The son is listening intently. Toward the end, the son calls his Dad out on taking three different kinds of pizza, negating his father’s point about consistency. The Dad laughs off his son’s cheekiness, and they go to enjoy their meals.
This is an example of one type of emotional fallacy called sentimental appeal. The goal of using a sentimental appeal is to distract the audience from the facts by using “powerful images that evoke emotions in support of that conclusion”(Everything’s An Argument), the conclusion being in this case that you can be a good Dad, too by bringing your kids to CiCi’s! This warm commercial encourages “Dads to take action in their kids lives”; the only solution for deadbeat Dads to strengthen relationship with their kids to grab a slice at CiCi’s and call it a day. Despite the superficial message, it has good value and CiCi’s is engaging in responsible communication.
Another fallacy in pizza advertising can be applied to the photo above, depicting an artful crop circle stunt done for the promotion of Papa John’s new 100% whole wheat crust. I have to admit, its a clever idea. I do not have the nutritional expertise to know all of the benefits of eating whole wheat pizza crust, but I do know that healthy sells. Taking a “health” approach in food has been a major trend in food marketing in the past few years. The above crop circle is a creative example of an argumentative fallacy called bandwagon appeals. “Bandwagon appeals are arguments that urge people to follow the same path everyone else is taking” (Everything’s An Argument). Utilizing current trends often driven by mass media can be an effective way to market your product. When viewing advertisements, the audience must remember that they aren’t always so transparent. Papa John’s celebrates their new 100% whole wheat crust, which connotes healthier pizza. In order to become an informed consumer, the audience should educate themselves on how the dough is processed, but also on other ingredients that go into the pizza like cheese and sauce. One slice of a 14inch whole wheat crust cheese pizza from Papa John’s has “280 calories, 12g fat, 38g carbs, 5g dietary fiber, 13g protein, 730mg sodium” (Fitness). So, although the whole wheat crust might be the better alternative compared to the original recipe, if health is the primary concern, consider going elsewhere for a slice. Creative campaign, though, and Papa John’s is still participating in responsible communication because all of the nutritional information is available to their customers if they are interested enough to look.