A Fergilicious Rhetorical Analysis
If one were to scroll through the channels on their television, they would likely come across a show or movie glamorizing teen pregnancy. These programs are so common now, that the shock factor has been lost, it’s just daytime entertainment. As a non-profit organization, The Candies Foundation “works to shape the way the youth in America think about the devastating consequences of teen pregnancy and parenthood.” (The Candies Foundation). The campaign aims to spread awareness of the negative side of teen pregnancy by advertising their cause on PSA advertisements. In a 2007 advertisement featuring Fergie, The Candies Foundation uses elements like celebrity culture, slang and statistics, and specific language to persuade its younger audience to avoid teen pregnancy. The ad uses the phrase “Not really the way you pictured your first crib, huh?” followed by the annual cost of raising a child, and the campaigns mission statement at the bottom. (The Candies Foundation PSA Fergie)
The ad uses the musical artist Fergie to add a sense of familiarity to the advertisement. Being the only female member of the Black Eyed Peas (Biography.com), Fergie’s name is one that’s become well known by teenagers everywhere, making her an influential figure amongst young girls who look up to her, and feel they can identify with her and trust her. However, Fergie holds no connection to teen pregnancy. In fact, The Candies Foundations PSA generally feature celebrities who, like Fergie, aren’t and were never teen moms. The only celebrity to break this mold was Bristol Palin and son Triff, who were featured in a 2010 PSA. (The Candies Foundation PSA Bristol) If one were to recognize this, the advertisements might not be as effective.
The advertisement uses persuasive words and language familiar to teenagers in an attempt to identify and influence its audience. The word “crib” is used as a slang term used to describe ones house, and a literal term to describe a bed in which an infant sleeps (World Wide Words). Being as the ad is directed towards teenagers, using slang makes it easier to identify with. The ad presents the campaigns mission statement “Providing information about the devastating consequences of teen pregnancy” at the bottom of the ad. (The Candies Foundation PSA Fergie) The word “devastating” holds a very strong negative connotation and adds a sense of freight of unwanted teenage pregnancy. “Pause before you play” located at the bottom of the ad (The Candies Foundation PSA) also adds a sense of familiarity. Teenagers are often very familiar with music, and using this phrase indirectly refers to stopping and thinking, or stopping and preparing before having sex.
The ad appeals to Logos through factual information, as it states in the PSA “Raising a baby can cost over 10,000 dollars a year” (The Candies Foundation PSA Fergie). By using statistics, the audience will see the ad as holding more credibility and will thus give the advertisement a stronger footing. The ad uses Pathos through the line “Not really the way you pictured your first crib, huh?” (The Candies Foundation PSA Fergie). This phrase appeals to the audience’s material values of owning a nice house. Common knowledge is that teenagers often picture their first homes as something extravagant. By going against this idea and having the teen picture his/her first “crib” as literally a child’s crib, the ad instills a sense of fear for the future in its audience.
If Fergie was not placed in the advertisement, and the audience couldn’t read, the ad would still carry an appeal. The advertisement conveys power by using a capitalized, bolded text, and appeals to young girls by using hot pink throughout the ad. The image of an empty baby crib adds a sense of sadness and emptiness to the advertisement, and would challenge teenagers to think about the reality of having a baby, not just the glamorized version they see on television and build in their minds.
The Candies Foundation has attempted, and slightly succeeded in moving me to think more so about the prevention of teen pregnancy, regardless of the obvious flaws in the advertisement. While the ad is mildly outdated, I do believe the creator of the text is rhetorically effective. Incorporating elements that the audience can connect with works to persuade them to take the ad into stronger consideration. Regardless of whether they consider the fact that Fergie holds no connection to teen pregnancy, I understand how the advertisement would hold an appeal to teenagers, females specifically.