Spalding NEVER FLAT™ Advertisement Analyzed “Promise, large promise, is the soul of an advertisement” (Samuel). This quotation claims that a promise, as the soul, is an essential part of any advertisement – it means that a promise is always present in an ad. This has always been true even in a long time ago since it was written by the famous writer Johnson Samuel who lived in the 1700s (Lynch). Furthermore, even in those past years, it can be concluded that advertisements had already greatly influenced the lives of people, that this well-known writer even wrote an essay about it – the “Idler No. 40: The Art of Advertising Exemplified” where the quotation is from. Ads can be seen almost everywhere one turns his/her head on to, – TVs, radios, the internet, magazines, billboards, newspapers, posters, flyers, etc. – and it has greatly influenced people in the society by creating these imaginary ‘needs’ – things that people think they cannot live without because of the pressure advertising is tossing to the society – and setting up social standards for fashion, beauty, fitness, technology, lifestyle, and more.
In the present time, the quote still holds true as observed in current advertisements – ads making large promises in order to induce its targets to buy the products they are advertising. One of these advertisements is the Ad for Spalding, a sports equipment brand, printed in the July-August 2008 issue of Hoop magazine, an official NBA (National Basketball Association) publication, which uses strong and large promises, a well-known NBA player, and repetition of words to effectively impress basketball enthusiasts and make them buy and use this product.
The ad pictures on the right a serious looking Paul Pierce wearing a green, number 34 jersey with his trademark headband on, which is also in green, while holding a basketball on waist level with the brand name “SPALDING” inscribed, and facing front so it shows, and the words “NEVER FLAT” just below the brand name. On the top left side there is a light gray steel plate that goes from side to side with embossed words that read, “NEVER FLAT™. STAYS INFLATED 10X LONGER GUARANTEED*”. Below it is another plate which is smaller and has a darker gray color, and on it is written, “NEVER FLAT™.
No other balls guarantee ten times longer inflation. Spalding NEVER FLAT™ now available in basketball, football, volleyball, and soccer — spalding. com. ” with the image of the balls shown at the bottom. Finally, at the bottom right corner is the logo and the name of the brand with the subtitle “TRUE TO THE GAME™” all colored in white. An associate professor, Stuart Hirschberg, believes that “the claim [an] ad makes is designed to establish the superiority of the product in the minds of the audience and to create a distinctive image for the product…” (290). NEVER FLAT™. STAYS INFLATED 10X LONGER. GUARANTEED*,” – this is what the ad clams. This claim showcases the two factors a product in an ad should have according to Stuart: superiority and a distinctive image. Of course a ball gets flat in time, but the ad asserts that Spalding balls never get flat which makes it unique and distinct from other balls. It sounds impressive, but whether it is true or not, it gives its target consumers – mainly basketball enthusiasts who have subscription to the magazine – the ‘coolness’ that most people want.
The ad has a note with a very small font (so readers will not notice) at the very bottom that reads, “*than traditional balls…” referring to which the ball stays inflated ten times longer than. Large numbers in advertisements represent superiority and entice the eyes of the audience. This ad, however, is somewhat misleading because it hardly states that detail at the bottom and leaves sophisticated target consumers a question as to which ball does it stay inflated longer. Nonetheless, most viewers will ignore this and just look at the product’s superiority – where the ad wants its target consumer’s attention to be.
Also, the ad writes “10X” twice the size of the other words to put emphasis to the product’s level of superiority and to create a greater appeal to its viewers. There are three means by which an advertisement can persuade its target consumers into buying the product it advertises; these are: “the appeal to the audience’s reason (logos),” which can be shown by “formal logic and… citation of relevant facts and objective evidence”; “the appeal to the audience’s emotion (pathos), such as fear, greed, love of comfort, and desire for status”; and “the degree of confidence the [ad] could inspire in the audience (ethos)” (Hirschberg 4).
The claim that the Spalding ad addresses contains all of these three strategies. It creates a strong impact to its target consumers concerning their reasoning, emotion, and confidence on the product. First, adding the word “guaranteed” gives its audience assurance that what is being stated is proven and true – and therefore can be considered a fact. Consumers always want to be secured on the product they are buying; that is why it is a good strategy to put facts and proofs in an ad in order to give its viewers this security that they want.
Second, having a ball that is 10 times better than other balls will most likely make one feel that he/she is also 10 times better than other people – the ad satisfies this desire for status of standing out amongst others which most individuals hunger. Lastly, the statement gives the target consumers confidence to use the product without having to worry about it becoming flat. Furthermore, when someone feels like he/she is better than others, the feeling gives him/her more confidence into what he/she is doing.
Another factor which will give the consumers the confidence and security they want about the product is seeing a famous personality as a model in an ad. Paul Pierce, who is also known as “The Truth”, is the one used as a model of the Spalding ball being advertised in this particular publication. In 2008, when the ad was released, his team, Boston Celtics, won the trophy in the NBA Finals 2008, and he bagged the NBA Finals MVP Award (Zillgitt). This event makes him the perfect person to show up in this ad.
This technique is commonly used in ads wherein they include an individual (or individuals), usually a famous one, endorsing the product as a testimony to what the product claims. It makes the target consumers (basketball enthusiasts) trust the product (Spalding) because the “idol” (Paul Pierce) also trusts the product. This technique is called “testimonials”. Using testimonials is an “effective way to engage and interest [the] audience”, and to “characterize the brand’s personality and relationship with the audience” (McNamara).
In this ad, a celebrity who is compatible to the brand’s personality is being used – Paul Pierce who is a basketball player modeling a basketball equipment brand –; thus, making the ad more powerful and giving its target consumers instant recognition and interest to the product. Another technique that is commonly used in an ad can be observed in the model. This is the illusion that Pierce is staring directly at the viewers’ eyes as if he is talking to them, and trying to build an interaction with them even though he is still and not moving.
This way, the ad can produce a higher response from its target consumers than an ad with a picture of a celebrity looking elsewhere. One more feature that is very noticeable in this ad is repetition. This technique helps to “keep a brand or product in the forefront of [the target consumers’] minds (Magloff). Repetition of words is extensively used in this ad. This technique is commonly used for newly introduced products in order to familiarize the consumers with the product or brand.
One of the technologies used by Spalding is called the “Spalding NEVER FLAT™” which is the “first ever ball with Pressure Retention Technologies and is the only ball guaranteed to stay fully inflated for at least 1 year” (Spalding). NEVER FLAT™, introduced in 2006, is a fairly new technology to the public by the time the ad was published (in 2008). Therefore, to familiarize the brand to the target consumers, which in this case are basketball enthusiasts subscribed to the magazine, the ad uses repetition of words such as “Spalding”, and “Never Flat”.
In total, “Never Flat” is repeated eight times, and “Spalding” six times which is certainly enough to make its viewers be well-familiarized to the brand when they see this ad. Furthermore, repetition is also used to put emphasis to a brand’s feature or to its quality. As shown in the ad, the words “10 times longer” and “guaranteed” are repeated at least twice to instill into the target consumers’ minds that the product is “guaranteed” to stay inflated “ten times longer” than traditional balls.
Though repetition of the words can be effective, excessive use of the same words can end up to “consumer fatigue” where target customers become so tired of the ad that they do not want to continue reading or watching it. And so, in order to avoid this, “repetition must occur in the right proportion” (Magloff). To some people, this ad can be too repetitive, but it can also be just right for some – it depends on the target customers’ way of perceiving the ad. The use of impressive claims and repetition of words efficiently interest the target consumers of this ad to at least try the product.
However, there is one more feature that the ad uses to add up to its effectiveness – the font. “NEVER FLAT” is always written in capital letters to put stress to the brand’s unique feature. Moreover, as already mentioned, “10X” is written in a larger font to make it more visible and noticeable so as to lay emphasis on its superiority. Lastly, the footnote at the bottom is written with a very tiny font so that it can be barely seen, and with the intent of hiding its weakness.
Small fonts are also used for not-so-important words or things like the contacts, legal rights, credits, disclaimers or signature of the company doing the advertising to bring the target customers’ focus to the product itself. This can be seen at the very left edge of the ad where the legal right is at – it can barely be seen because it is so tiny, the color is almost the same as the background, and the previous page covers most of it if the magazine is not stretched.
Advertisements are created in such a way to create an immediate reaction from a target customer; they are designed to strike someone’s attention in just a glance. Viewers will usually just take a glimpse of the ad for a second or two, so advertisements shall try to make the best out of it. This Spalding NEVER FLAT™ ad portrays an impressive-sounding, clear, straight-to-the-point, and visually inviting image that one will absolutely notice. It straightforwardly drops this large promise of quality and distinction which infuses different appeals to its target customers.
It manipulates its target viewers’ attention by using a personality who is well-recognized and trusted by them who, perhaps, are his (Pierce’s) supporters or fans. Finally, it uses certain techniques and strategies to excellently highlight the brand and its astonishing features. However effective this ad (or any other ad) can be, it is always in the hands of the viewer to whether or not fall to the ad’s alluring power.
- Hirschberg, Stuart. “Rhetoric and Persuasion”. Arguing Across the Disciplines: A Rhetoric and Reader. Eds. Stuart Hirschberg and Terry Hirschberg. New York: Pearson Longman, 2007. 3-5. Print.
- Hirschberg, Stuart. “The Rhetoric of Advertising”. Arguing Across the Disciplines: A Rhetoric and Reader. Eds. Stuart Hirschberg and Terry Hirschberg. New York: Pearson Longman, 2007. 290-294. Print.
- Lynch, Frank. “Brief Biography”. The Samuel Johnson Sound Bite Page. Web. 26 Sept. 2012. Magloff, Lisa. “Repetition as an Advertisement Technique”. Chron. Texas: Houston Chronicles, n. p. Web. 30 Sept. 2012.
- McNamara, Steven Lorin. “Advertising Technique: Testimonials”. AdCracker: The World’s Favorite Digital Creative Partner. N. p. , n. d. Web. 29 Sept. 2012.
- Samuel, Johnson. “Idler 040 [No. 40: The art of advertising exemplified]”. Read Book Online. Web. 26 Sept. 2012.
- Spalding. Spalding. com. Russell Brands, LLC, n. p. Web. 30 Sept. 2012.
- Spalding: True to the Game™. Advertisement. Hoop. July-Aug. 2008. Zillgitt, Jeff. “Pierce Takes Home NBA Finals MVP Award”. USA Today. N. p. , June 18 2008. Web. 27 Sept. 2012.