In the modern society, many professionals follows the three modes of persuasion (e.g. ETHOS, LOGOS, and PATHOS) by Aristotle. The trio of roles provides guidance for professionals, which support their ability to influence the choice of the target audiences through persuasive communication, because people tends to give attention or raise emotional responses that are believable and carries factual sources with high credibility.
Humans always seek for best way to convey an idea and Walter Lippmann (1922) believes that images have been the most effective way to convey an idea, which follows by long-lasting memories with the power to change human attitudes and behaviors.
Having considered the fundamental role of images in persuasion, it is equally important to explore how images can arouse viewers’ interest and criticism, especially when the advertising images appear to be somewhat controversial. For instance, Benetton clothing company presented with intimidating and shocking advertisements that aimed to emphasize and normalize the multiculturalism, which they utilize the multiculturalism beliefs to promote the equality of various cultures around the world, therefore also promotes cross-cultural understanding and encourages the active participation of cultural representatives in social, economic and political affairs.
At the same time, it also discourages discrimination, disempowerment, hatred and violence in terms of gender, ethnic and marginalized groups. Benetton clothing company carefully constructed the visual messages very well in terms of affecting people’s attitudes and behaviors. But, it is necessary to question ourselves why and how they managed to persuade their target audience successfully. The roles of process, mechanisms, and devices enables persuasive advertising to succeed. The strategies of triggering the audiences not only will generate media attention, but also sales in terms of business perspective.
Unfortunately, in the process of constructing visual messages, many advertisers and corporates sometime fails to provide ethical and appropriate content through pictures such as pictorial stereotypes. It is undoubtedly true that pictorial stereotypes are continually shown in the media even to this day, which results in stereotypes becoming ingrained in our society and culture, while they shaped our way of thinking and evaluating people and situations.
On the other hand, this factor may lead to misjudgements and analyzing images due to attribute meaning to image based on what we know. In addition, there are certain marginalized viewers can be objected to the exploitation of tragedy for advertising purposes such as HIV/AIDS advertisements. As long as media do not produce any morally questionable content to the society, viewers may not reciprocate negatively.
The media is supposed to inform unbiased and truth information, rather than misleading people by digitally alternating information to manipulate the audience to create stereotype inaccuracy and overgeneralization.