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Introduction and description
In this essay, I am going to illustrate how three advertising appeals feature in a popular TV commercial. For this purpose, I have selected the Walk with Giants spot for alcohol brand Johnnie Walker, which features 27-time world record holder Ethiopian Haile Gebrselassie (Gabriel 1). The advertisement shows Gebrsellassie running through a poverty-stricken area in Ethiopia. There are people carrying heavy animal feed, a man using a hammer to fix a damaged fence, and women busy trying to make a sell in the market. It is done in grayscale, to show the intensity. Gebrselassie’s voice comes in to offer a description of how he rose from the poverty of Ethiopia to a world-acclaimed sportsman (Gabriel 1). This is as he runs through a rocky mountain to emerge in a city, where he slows down into a jog, then a walk. During the length of the advertisement, video clips from his athletics exploits are brought in, by placing them in a bar setting where individuals are seated enjoying a drink (presumable Johnnie Walker) while cheering him on. Below is the voice-over that runs along with the video.
“I grew up here. Every day was a struggle against hardship. As a boy I had to run 20 kilometers to school and back. And that is where I learnt to find that one big push; deep inside. One push is for my mother and my father and my family’s hopes. One push to break from the poverty and the challenges of the past. One push for those who said I couldn’t do it and one push for the dreams of Africa. There is one push waiting inside you. Just keep going, keep walking,” (Gabriel 1).
The advertisement appeals to the need to dominate (Biagi 206). This is fundamentally shown by Gebresellassie’s narration, which indicates that through his challenges he emerged to be a respected and world-renowned person. Success in sport is only achieved by one rising above competitors in order to be deemed successful. In this advertisement we see Gebrsellassie outdo competition on the track to receive acclaim from the entire world. The advertisement aims at showing Johnnie Walker as an alcoholic brand that enables one to attain success in life. The runner capitalized on the lack of a better way to travel to and from school to make a successful career in athletics. The advertisement also carries the subtle message that for one to dominate in any field, he must put in a lot of hard work. The advertiser hopes that individuals who watch the advertisement will be inspired to start small on their way to greatness and in the process maintain loyalty with Johnnie Walker for opening their eyes.
The advertisement described above also appeals to the need for prominence. This is fundamentally the desire to be respected and admired as well as be accorded a higher social status (Biagi 206). From the spot, the Ethiopians crowded in front of a small television set regard Gebrsellassie as their liberator from poverty. They are tense as the race proceeds, hopeful that their man will win the race, which ultimately they believe will be a win for them. Most people have the desire to have others regard them in high esteem by appearing better than them. While watching the advertisement, the average person would like to picture themselves in Gebrsellassie’s shoes. They would like to be the ones other people are counting on. At the end of the race, the runner is given an ovation by the people at the stadium and many others watching on television. The makers of the advertisement almost want to show that consuming Johnnie Walker gives one the same prominence as winning a marathon.
The other appeal that the Johnnie Walker advertisement looks at is the need to escape (Biagi 206). Through the sequence of events and the narration, Gebrselassie creates the impression that running helped him overcome the poverty he was experiencing in his childhood. In the advertisement, he runs through a rural setting, crossing a hilly terrain and emerging in an urban area, where he slows down and starts walking. It seems like his desire was to run away from the misery of rural life and once he meets his objectives, he settles down to enjoy the fruits of his labor. It is true that hard work pays and the people who know Gebrsellassie’s story know that he emerged from the realms of poverty to a millionaire, with plenty of investments in his home country of Ethiopia. The advertiser would like people to think that by consuming the drink they can overcome all their problems in the same way that Gebrselassie flew away from poverty. But as part of the hidden message in the advertisement, the company would like people to know that for you to afford to consume the drink you must first go through turmoil. Johnnie Walker is among the high-end alcoholic drinks and it is only the people who are financially strong that can purchase it.
Biagi, Shirley. Media impact: An introduction to mass media. Wadsworth: Cengage Learning, 2006. Print.
Gabriel, Ian. “Johnnie Walker – Haile Gebrselassie.” Online video clip.YouTube. YouTube, 2011. Web.