Zero in Wisconsin

Advertisements are beginning to take over our lives.  Almost everything we do or use to pass the time has been littered with advertisements.  These range from watching television, billboards on the road, internet sites, magazines and newspapers sell certain spots in them where marketing companies can try and show off their products.  Yet for these to be effective, they need to be persuasive enough to make their product stand out amongst the other ads people see each day.  The trouble marketing firms are finding today is how to make their message unique and persuasive enough for people to listen to their message.  The advertisement I choose to take a closer look at does not air here in Indiana, but rather in my home state of Wisconsin.  The “Zero in Wisconsin” message uses an agent: agency ratio to stand out amongst other advertisements in the day and persuade the audience to use their seatbelts.

As you can see in the YouTube video, the “Zero in Wisconsin” campaign is focused on limiting the number of deaths that happen on Wisconsin roadways.  It is far too easy in today’s society to be driving while not completely paying attention to the road.  Cell phones, Ipods and Ipads, blasting radio music or modern distractions take away focus from the actual task at hand making the car a very expensive, very heavy wrecking ball ready to do damage.  This particular ad is aimed at defensive driving so even if you are driving with 100% control the other person may not, that is why it is important to wear your seatbelt “to achieve zero deaths on Wisconsin roads.”

Looking at this ad through the lens of Burke’s Pentad you have examine the 5 elements of act, scene, purpose, agent and agency.  Agent and agency will be focused upon last as they make up the two greatest factors and thus make up the final ratio of agent: agency.  First, let’s examine the act of the commercial.  The act in Burke’s Pentad tells what happened in the commercial, what was being done and what the speaker actually says.  The main actor in this commercial, Donald Driver, first explains that he wears his seat belt every time he gets into a car and makes sure all of his passengers do as well.  Then his counterpart, a regular looking man named Brad, states that he never wears a seatbelt.  Driver takes over and explains that not wearing your seatbelt in a car crash going fifteen miles an hour can feel like getting hit by a 300 pound lineman without pads.  He continues to explain that the police officer responding to the crash will also serve you with a ticket for not wearing that seatbelt.  He ends by making the most important point of the ad, “click it or ticket and lets achieve zero deaths on Wisconsin roads.”  Donald Driver tells the audience the reasons why they should buckle up and gives everyone a goal to limit the deaths on Wisconsin roadways because traveling from one point to another should be safe, not death defying.

The next section of the Pentad deals with the scene of the advertisement.  In this particular ad the scene is very limited.  The context of the advertisement is very ambiguous as the actors are in front of a white screen in a studio.  The scene doesn’t make any topic necessarily inappropriate for the setting, but at the same time it doesn’t make anything appropriate or bring any sort of feeling to the advertisement at all.  The scene of the advertisement is most likely this way to make sure the audience pays complete attention to the words being said.  The third section of the Pentad deals with purpose.  In this case the goal of the commercial is stated as “let’s achieve zero deaths on Wisconsin roads.”  However, this goal is definitely a bit unrealistic.  The true purpose is to limit the deaths on Wisconsin roads by making drivers more aware of their seatbelts and bringing knowledge to the community on how devastating accidents can be.

Now on to the last two parts of Burke’s Pentad, the agent and agency, which make up the most important and persuasive parts of this advertisement.  The agent within this commercial is Donald Driver, a 14 year wide receiver for the Green Bay Packers, the all-time leading receiver, and champion of Season 14 on the hit television show Dancing with the Stars on ABC.  In the state of Wisconsin everyone knows of the name Donald Driver because of those two reasons, he is a super-star within the state and has a great personality.  Virtually everyone in Wisconsin will start watching and listen to what he has to say because of his achievements and his genuine character which allows people to identify with him.  That identification to a person allows them to become persuasive but the agency of the commercial is also perfect.  Something Donald is truly an expert at is football and when he tells the audience that the smallest crashes would be equivalent to a hit by a 300 pound lineman, we take that at face value and assume it to be extraordinarily painful.  His words are extremely persuasive because of who he is and what he equates the situation with.  Plus, the commercial adds logos to the equation when it states that the driver will receive a ticket on top of a wrecked car for not wearing their seatbelt.  The message hits home to everyone, we would all like to achieve zero deaths on Wisconsin roads. The meaning and how it is portrayed through Donald Driver uses both pathos and logos to persuade the audience to travel more safely on the roadways by using your seatbelt.  The peoples identification with the Donald and the use of a topic he would be extremely familiar with, while also being very painful, makes the agent: agency ratio strong in this advertisement.

JW Kieckhefer

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