How to Use Ethos, Pathos and Logos in Persuasive Advertising

by Manas Chowdhury
9 minutes read

How often have you looked at a compelling ad and thought – “I should definitely get this product because I face that exact predicament?” If the answer is “Often,” you might have been targeted by advertisers using the quality of Pathos! 

Not sure what this means beyond something taught in literature classes? Let’s dig in deeper. 

Persuasive advertising is a way of convincing people to advocate for or buy a certain product or viewpoint using certain biases. While persuasion might seem like an intangible art, Aristotle has actually quantified them to some extent. The art of persuasion uses the strategies of ethos, pathos, and logos. One of the main spheres where these have been used in marketing – but they have also been used in literature, campaigns, political debates, and more. 

Businesses and marketers utilize persuasive advertising as a potent weapon to sway consumers’ actions and decisions – as long as they know what they’re doing. Utilizing these requires a deep understanding of your audience and their psychology. After all, you can’t persuade an audience if you don’t know what drives them or is valuable to them. 

With these 3 techniques, marketers can create captivating advertising, resonating with customers and improving sales and brand loyalty. 

Let’s take a look at the power of ethos, pathos, and logos in advertising, along with some powerful examples. 

Unlocking the Secrets of Persuasive Advertising

The ability to convince people is a vital talent that may considerably enhance one’s personal and professional life. And when used in advertising – it can persuade millions to do something, buy something or avoid something. 

Rhetorical appeals refer to the art of convincing a crowd to do a certain action or adopt a particular viewpoint. Here are some things you should know about rhetoric appeals: 

  1. Politics, advertising, and even interpersonal interactions use these appeals in various communication contexts.
  1. Knowing the audience’s requirements, desires, and views is essential for effective persuasion, as is appealing to them in a way that is relevant to and suitable to them. Hence, in addition to being aware of the various communication methods, you must have a detailed grasp of human psychology and behavior.

Examining the components of persuasion, such as tone, language, and structure, and using them to build persuasion is part of the art of rhetorical appeal. 

This may mean comprehending:

  • how to use storytelling to entertain the audience emotionally, 
  • how to use social validation to verify authority, or 
  • how to use data and statistics to back up a position.

Communicators who follow this strategy can put out messages that are strong and persuasive and ultimately result in the desired action or result. And we’re going to discuss just how!

From Credibility to Emotions to Logic: The Science of Rhetorical Appeals and How to Use Them Effectively

Ethos, pathos, and logos are the three primary categories of rhetorical arguments:

  • Ethos is the use of authority, trustworthiness, and credibility to influence an audience. This may be accomplished by portraying oneself as an authoritative person in a certain industry, using expert testimonies, celebrity endorsements, or a combination of all.
  • Pathos uses tactics like humor, horror, or nostalgia to elicit the desired reaction from the audience by appealing to their emotions. This is seen in numerous advertisements that aim to evoke particular feelings.
  • Logos appeal to the audience’s sense of logic and reason by using arguments supported by facts, figures, and other evidence. This style of appeal is frequently utilized in more intricate or technical goods and services that call for a more in-depth justification.

The three modes of Persuasion: Ethos, Pathos, and Logos:

Philosopher and scholar from ancient Greece, Aristotle, emphasized the value of influence and differentiated three primary types of persuasion: ethos, pathos, and logos. Aristotle thought that a speaker’s ability to influence the audience was based on how successfully they were able to appeal to these senses. 

More than 2000 years later, these three methods of persuasion are still employed today. Let’s dive into each of the three modes. 

Beyond Words: The Non-Verbal Elements of Ethos and Their Impact on Persuasion

Ethos, which relates to the speaker or communicator’s credibility and dependability, is a crucial element in effective communication. It depends on how the listeners view the speaker’s personality, level of subject matter knowledge, and authority.

The speaker must show their subject-matter knowledge, as well as their moral principles, to develop ethos. This can be accomplished by using expert endorsements, testimonials, or tales that show their credibility.

Ethos is particularly significant in professions like politics, law, and business where success depends on credibility and trust. 

Communicators may improve their capacity to convince and influence their audience as well as provide a message that is trustworthy and captivating by building an ethos.

Examples of Ethos in Advertising:

  • Case Study 1: Nike’s “Just Do It” Campaign

Nike is a company that gained a reputation due to its excellent performance in the sports industry. 

Their “Just Do It” advertising campaign is a great illustration of how a business can employ ethos to convey a powerful message. 

The “Just Do It” motto was included in a series of advertisements for the campaign, which also featured then-rookie sportsmen who later achieved fame – including Michael Jordan and Bo Jackson.

Nike gained credibility and authority in the sports industry by showcasing these sportsmen alongside their brand. As their wins grew, so did the trust in Nike. The campaign also positioned Nike as a company dedicated to the quality and performance of sneakers, which connected with its target market of athletic and energetic people.

  • Case Study 2: Apple’s “Think Different” Campaign

Another excellent example of how a business may operate ethos to develop an irresistible message is Apple’s “Think Different” campaign. Ads for the campaign enclosed famous people such as Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and Albert Einstein. 

In addition to being well-known, these people were also seen as imaginative and creative, which enhanced Apple’s brand values.

The campaign also positioned Apple as a company that was dedicated to questioning the current status quo and adopting novel ideas, which connected with their target market of tech enthusiasts and creative professionals.

  • Case Study 3: The Plain Folks Persuasive Advertising Technique

The Plain Folks style is a kind of ethos-based marketing technique that aims to make the speaker or business seem approachable and real. 

The Dove “Real Beauty” ad is one instance of this strategy in use. Instead of using photographs of professional models, the campaign used photos of regular women to promote inclusive and realistic beauty standards.

The campaign further positioned Dove as a company dedicated to fostering self-worth and a good body image, which connected deeply with its target demographic of female consumers. This came at a day and age when realistic beauty and body image standards are being promoted worldwide as opposed to heavily curated and edited standards. 

Ethos is a powerful promotion strategy that also obliges companies to be reliable and uphold their standards. These case studies show how ethos may be utilized to craft effective advertising strategies that connect with target audiences, providing tangible commercial benefits.

The Power of Pathos: Emotional Appeal in Advertising

The approach that is dependent on opinions and emotions is called pathos. Advertisers utilize it as a tool to engage more deeply with their target demographic. Companies can elicit a sense of empathy, inspiration, or urgency that motivates action by appealing to the audience’s emotions.

For instance, a charity may use pictures of hungry children to arouse empathy and inspire donors. In contrast, a luxury automobile advertisement may include pictures of a slick, sophisticated vehicle to arouse sentiments of want and aspiration.

Pathos is a strong technique that may be utilized to build an intense emotional bond with the audience. 

Examples of  Pathos in Advertising:

  • Case Study 1: Gillette’s “First Shave” ad

Gillette recently came out with an ad that depicts a father teaching his son how to shave. On the surface, this evokes certain emotions for its target audience – the newness of puberty and the task of shaving. 

But it goes a bit deeper than that. The son featured here is Samson Bonkeabantu Brown – a well-known transgender activist. Now it’s more than just shaving, but also dealing with the challenges that come with navigating this landscape. By using pathos, Gillette establishes their viewpoint regarding this topic – featuring the first transgender man in a shaving ad – as well as produces an ode which most men, young and old can relate with. 

  • Case Study 2: Nike’s “Dream Crazy” Campaign

Another example of emotion in promotion is Nike’s “Dream Crazy” campaign. The commercial featured Colin Kaepernick, a former NFL quarterback who gained fame for kneeling during the playing of the national anthem to criticize racial inequity and police cruelty. 

Believe in something, says Kaepernick in the advertisement. Even if it demands giving up everything. The promotion then continues with a montage of other sportsmen who have won through challenges to achieve excellence.

To engage its viewers, the advertisement combined visuals and moving narration. Serena Williams, LeBron James, and Shaquem Gryphon were among the athletes that were featured in it. All of them had overcome barriers and hardships in their life to pursue their objectives. 

Images of common people following their aspirations, like a little girl playing football and a guy who had lost both of his legs completing a marathon, were also featured in the advertisement.

The “Dream Crazy” advertising campaign was a huge hit with viewers all around the world. It won acclaim for conveying a message of tenacity and resolve, and it strengthened Nike’s reputation as a brand that stands for more than simply sportswear.

Logos in Advertising: The Power of Rational Appeal

In advertising, Logos is frequently used to clearly and logically convey the features and advantages of an item or service through hard facts and figures.

There are several ways that logos may be used in advertising. Presenting facts, statistics, or scientific proof to back up a claim about a product may be involved, or a clear and succinct presentation of a product’s characteristics and advantages. 

When paired with other rhetorical appeals like ethos and pathos, Logos is highly potent in advertising. Advertisers may create a strong statement that links with their audience and uplifts action by creating a rational case that is also emotionally captivating and given by a reliable source.

Examples of Logos in advertising

  • Case Study 1: Apple’s “Get a Mac” Campaign

A prime example of Logos in advertising is Apple’s “Get a Mac” campaign. A series of television ads that compared Mac computers against PCs were part of the campaign, which aired from 2006 through 2009. 

The advertisements explained the technical benefits of Macs, such as their quicker processing speed, more dependable operating system, and better virus protection, in easy terms.

To make the technical material more approachable to a larger audience, the advertisements also included humor. For instance, one advertisement featured a PC user who was having trouble keeping up with the demands of operating a sizable spreadsheet while the Mac user did the work with ease. The message was quite clear: Macs outperform PCs in speed and effectiveness.

Apple was successful in convincing customers by employing a logical argument to provide technical facts clearly and understandably. The “Get a Mac” marketing initiative was a major success and contributed to Apple’s rise to prominence in the computer sector.

  • Case Study 2: Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive

Another example of Logos used in advertising is the Hybrid Synergy Drive from Toyota. The 2005 campaign’s goal was to draw attention to the technical benefits of Toyota’s unique hybrid technology while simultaneously promoting the company’s hybrid automobiles.

The Hybrid Synergy Drive technology was promoted through a mix of print and television advertisements. The advertisements included information on the system’s electric motor count, torque output, fewer emissions, increased fuel efficiency and battery pack effectiveness. 

The message was very clear: Toyota’s hybrid cars were not only technologically better than other hybrid cars on the market but also ecologically beneficial.

Toyota’s use of logos in the Hybrid Synergy Drive campaign was successful because it informed consumers about the company’s technology straightforwardly and accurately. Toyota was able to portray their hybrid vehicles as a wise choice for customers who cared about the environment and desired a technologically cutting-edge vehicle by outlining technical aspects clearly and straightforwardly. In a way, it also appealed via Pathos to those who wanted a more sustainable automobile alternative. 

The Persuasive Techniques You Haven’t Tried Yet: Telos and Kairos in Advertising:

While we’ve looked at the 3 prime persuasion modes, there are more strategies that may be employed in advertising besides ethos, logos, and pathos. Telos and Kairos are two examples of such methods. 


Telos is a persuasive strategy that emphasizes the ultimate objective or function of a good or service. Customers will be more likely to appreciate the value of a product if the end aim of utilizing it is emphasized, goes the theory. 

Example: To illustrate that living a healthy and meaningful life is the ultimate objective rather than simply decreasing weight for its purpose, a weight loss program can employ telos.


The kairos approach, on the other hand, emphasizes the time or context of communication. It is believed that if a message is given at the appropriate moment and in the appropriate setting, it will be more effective. 

Example: An advertisement for a cool beverage, for instance, could work better if it airs on a hot summer day than during a winter blizzard.

Both telos and kairos may be powerful persuasive strategies, especially when combined with ethos, logos, and pathos. 

Advertisers may more successfully engage with customers and encourage them to take action by understanding the ultimate purpose of a product or service, as well as by delivering the correct message at the right time and in the right context.

Techniques for Businesses to Employ Ethos, Pathos, and Logos

Using ethos, pathos, and logos can help you persuade your audience when it comes to persuasive communication. We’ll look at various tactics that companies may use to successfully incorporate ethos, pathos, and logos into their marketing and communication plans.

Applying Ethos

Credibility-building is a crucial aspect of ethos. Businesses should concentrate on portraying themselves as informed, trustworthy, and dependable if they want to use ethos. Here are some strategies to take into account:

  1. Utilize endorsements and reviews:
    Including endorsements and reviews from pleased clients may aid in building credibility and confidence in your company.
  2. Highlight credentials and experience:
    Be sure to draw attention to your qualifications and experience in your messaging if they set you apart from other professionals in your field.
  3. Use endorsements from influencers:
    Endorsements from influential people might help you get the credibility and trust of your target audience.

Employing Pathos

The main goal of pathos is to arouse your audience’s emotions. When attempting to establish a deeper connection with clients, this strategy may be especially beneficial. Here are some examples of how companies might use pathos:

  1. Tell a tale:
    Using stories to emotionally engage your audience may be a very effective strategy. Think about telling tales of how your goods or services have aided clients in overcoming obstacles or achieving their objectives.
  2. Use music and imagery:
    Your messaging may have a stronger emotional impact on your audience if you use pictures and music.
  3. Making advantage of social causes:
    A  stronger connection between your business and your audience may be created by supporting social issues that are consistent with your brand and target audience.

Employing Logos

To persuade your audience, Logos focuses on providing logical arguments and supporting data. Logos may be used by businesses in a variety of ways, such as:

  1. Use facts and statistics:
    Doing so will help you show how effective your goods or services are in your messaging.
  2. Point out the main benefits and features:
    Focus on succinctly and clearly stating the main attributes and advantages of your goods and services.
  3. Use concise messaging:
    Use language that is simple to grasp and avoid jargon or technical phrases when communicating clearly. Remember – your audience may not be an expert! 


  1. What is the meaning of persuasive writing?

Writing that seeks to persuade the reader or audience to adopt a certain point of view or perform a particular action is known as persuasive writing. 

It entails using rhetorical persuasion strategies like ethos, pathos, and logos to build a case that appeals to the reader’s feelings, ethics, and reason. Persuasive writing is used by scriptwriters, marketers, salespeople, columnists, and more. 

  1. What are 3 techniques for pathos?
  • Emotional language:
    Using phrases that cause the reader to feel powerful emotions can assist to establish a connection and foster empathy.
  • Anecdotes:
    To connect emotionally with the reader, it might be helpful to share a personal tale or experience.
  • Imagery:
    Giving the reader a detailed description of a location or image can assist elicit a powerful emotional reaction.
  1. What are the 4 qualities of ethos?
  • Credibility:
    The author or speaker must come off as sincere and honest.
  • Expertise:
    Knowledge and expertise in the subject matter are prerequisites for every writer or speaker.
  • Likability:
    The author or speaker ought to come off as approachable, personable, and relatable.
  • Goodwill:
    The author or speaker must sincerely wish to assist the audience and have their best interests in mind.
  1. Which of the 3 methods should I use? 

This depends on what suits your product the most. Political debates or discussions mostly appeal via Ethos to people’s sense of ethics and ideals. Whereas a family car-making company may focus more on Logos by enumerating how much value the car can provide within a given price range. 

Charities, beauty companies, and luxury goods manufacturers may focus on Pathos to evoke feelings of achieving a particular beauty or lifestyle standard. A combination of these can also be used. The bottom line is – one needs to be aware of their industry and audience. Most companies carry out extensive research to understand what their user’s wants and needs are before crafting an advertisement. There is no dearth of advertisements that failed to use these techniques due to their lack of understanding of audience needs. 

An example is the Tata Nano, which despite being a wonderful make, was advertised as “cheap” (with the understanding that this might appeal to the Indian middle class) – but failed to capture the target audience as they felt this demeaned the status of owning the car.  


In conclusion, for every organization that wishes to successfully persuade its target audience, knowing the power of ethos, pathos, and logos in advertising is essential. 

With the use of these three persuasion techniques, you can design persuasive campaigns that can stir up feelings, establish authority, and appeal to reason. You may establish a stronger connection with your audience and improve your chances of generating conversions by carefully choosing which mode to employ in your adverts. 

Learning the craft of persuasive writing is crucial if you want to thrive in today’s digital environment, whether you’re a marketer or a small company owner.

We hope this article helped you with understanding the concepts and the change they can bring to an organization! 

Related Posts