Posted by Floyd Diebel 1 Comment

ἔθος, λόγος, & πάθος

The scrambled looking characters in the title of this post (that may or may not be seen correctly in your web browser) are the greek words ethos, logos, and pathos.

I’ve been thinking a bunch lately about how these words relate to advertising thought I’d ramble on a little about it…

ἔθος (ethos)

From televangelists to Microsoft, creating confidence by demonstrating moral competence (in Aristotle‘s words) allows you to persuade people to give you (or your clients) their mindshare, and their money. Whether the persuader is a responsible business, a government agency, or an ad agency doesn’t really matter, and its often easier for unscrupulous charlatans (I love that word!) to create confidence through lies and omitting truths than it is for an honest enterprise to do the same.

Aristotle said that ethos can only be recognized by what a man says, not by what one thinks of his character before he speaks. Way to go Aristotle, you created an opening for advertisers to come in and tell that story.

λόγος (logos)

There’s got to be an element of logic or some kind of appeal to reason in every successful “sale” of an idea…  even if its a lie.

I might try to sell you tires, and use truthful facts based on the product’s positive attributes, and you might then think those tires are a logical choice for you.

Whether those facts are based in truth or lies, its the end result that matters – creating a logical reason for you to accept what I’m selling.

πάθος (pathos)

Pathos is an appeal to emotions and desires.

I might try to sell you bath products by demonstrating how once you use this product you will be hunted relentlessly by hot, under dressed, sub-human chicks wanting to have sex with you. You might think that would be pretty awesome, and look into using that product. The english word pathetic comes from pathos, and is strangely appropriate in this case.

The moral of the story:

Don’t blame me! BLAME ARISTOTLE.

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