Understanding Ethos, Pathos and Logos in Advertising

More than 2,000 years ago, the Greek philosopher Aristotle cooked up a concept called the three ‘modes of persuasion’. It’s the framework for understanding the three main ways we persuade people to do something. The heart of all advertising is persuading people to believe in you, your product or your business. Understanding how to powerfully incorporate one, or if you’re lucky all, is extremely important in determining how well you’ll resonate with the customer. 

Defining the Three

Ethos is an appeal to ethics. The technique relies on the speaker’s authority, credibility, experience, or even popularity as a means of persuading the masses.

Pathos is an emotional appeal and is used extensively in narrative art, entertainment, film, literature, etc.

Logos is an appeal to logic and relies on facts and reason to persuade the audience.

Two thousand years after Aristotle developed this “rhetorical triangle,” rhetoric teachers still rely on it to teach college students how to craft effective persuasive arguments. Advertisers still invoke ethos, logos, and pathos, always attempting to balance the three. The appeals also form the basis for how marketing experts, and groups that bestow industry awards, deem an effective “good” or “great” advertisement or campaign.

Ethos in Advertising 

Advertising with ethos is about convincing a consumer that your company is more reliable, credible, and trustworthy than any other one. Ethos is used to convince them that’s why they should buy from you and patronize your stores. Ethos often uses celebrity endorsements, factual statements, and real-life examples to certify prominence. 

Adidas x Beyoncé


Adidas and Beyoncé are in a partnership to release her clothing line through Adidas. The most recent advertisement has a well-known Beyoncé song playing in the background while discussing the superstar’s life journey. 



Google recently released an advertisement focused on the deaf community and how Google has the necessary technology to help and educate. This commercial also pulls on pathos to help drive the point home by tugging on the emotions. However, the root of the commercial uses ethos to show viewers how google is the credible source for all knowledge. 



Apple uses humor in their newest advertisement for their Apple Watch by showing how simple it is to find your misplaced phone with an Apple Watch. It’s simple, concise, and gets straight to the point on why Apple products help you in your daily life. 

Pathos in Advertising 

Pathos advertisement techniques appeal to the senses, memory, nostalgia, or shared experience. Pathos examples pull at the heartstrings and make the audience feel. Animals, a shared family experience, and babies are three of the most common methods used to deploy pathos in advertisements. 

It can be a positive or negative emotion, but it has to be strong enough to persuade the viewer. To zero in on the right appeal, you must understand your audience well, and you must be familiar with their hopes, dreams, motivators, and fears. 



For over 125 years, Mercedes-Benz says it has been moved by motion pictures and the screens that display them. Their newest commercial draws on nostalgia and experiences to highlight their newest car feature: an interactive hyper screen. 

Dick’s Sporting Goods


Dicks’s Sporting Goods Mother’s Day commercial draws on shared experiences of mothers to portray how Dick’s has everything to help make your kid feel more confident. Aimee Watters, the executive director of the Dick’s Sporting Goods Foundation, starts a reassuring conversation with her child, looking directly into the camera as if to share that comfort with everyone. As she coaxes out what’s making him nervous and encourages him to be brave in a Mother’s Day message from the sporting goods store, a montage of other executive moms at Dick’s plays out scenes of love and support in their own children’s daily lives.

Sony Video Games: MLB 


A host welcomes you to “MLB The Show 21” by showcasing its various customizable features. Offering players the ability to modify their gear, revamp the stadium, and even take on some of baseball’s greatest legends, the game invites you to “own the show.” This commercial draws on the senses and excitement of baseball to fuel the viewer to want to be a part of the experience. 

Logos in Advertising 

Logos pulls on facts, research, and even a consumer’s inherent logic to come into play. An advertisement using logos will give you the evidence and statistics you need to understand what the product does and how it can make your life even better than it was before you used it. Clearly and concisely convey to the audience why they should logically buy what you’re selling. Provide evidence in the form of facts, figures, and statistics. Give customers irrefutable proof that your brand or product is the best.



UBRELVY is a prescribed oral medication that is intended to treat those who suffer from migraine attacks with or without aura in adults when taken regularly as ordered. The commercial adds no-frills and gets straight to the point of what it’s for and how to get it. Statistics are displayed on the screen to certify how effective it is and drives home why viewers who suffer migraines should look into it. 

Carvana dealer fees are done 


Carvana uses logos in a satiric manner by throwing out facts about what you won’t have to pay if you use Carvana to purchase or sell a car. While the commercial is playful, it is still clear and concise on why people should go through Carvana if they want to save money.



Verizon used logos by portraying a map of the United States to clearly show the viewer how Verizon has the most coverage. This method is visually clear and concise and gets straight to the point of why Verizon is logically the best. 

If your business is looking to expand its advertising, contact TriSpark Media today! Our team of talented marketers and advertisers can deliver the results you are looking for.