Covert Persuasion in English Advertisements and Political Speeches

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Karzan O. Dawd
Salah M. Salih


Persuasion has always been an integral aspect of human interaction that operates in different professional and lingua-cultural settings. The notion of persuasion as a key component of communication was brought into the world by classical rhetoric. Although, the art and science of persuasion has been of interest since the time of the Ancient Greeks, there are fundamental differences between the ways in which persuasion occurs today and how it has occurred in the past. While previous studies have been conducted regarding persuasion in advertisement and political speeches, the current research, however, is a quest for the underlying covert persuasion strategies adopted by advertising agencies and political figures or parties. Moreover, while previous studies have concentrated on how language relates to power and what linguistic elements are used by politicians and advertisers to persuade their voters and costumers, the current paper has meticulously focused on the covert attempts and endeavors by politicians and advertisers who employ various elusive techniques to serve their concealed intentions. The scope of this research primarily focuses on two major fields – Advertisement and Political Speeches. Ten texts have been analyzed where persuasion plays a vital role in the way of getting customers and voters to change attitude, belief and act in certain ways.
It has been found that covert persuasion best functions within the trope category (mainly metaphor, allusion, and metonymy) which is primarily realized through the mediation of semantic meaning. Schemes have no function within covert persuasion as they are basically more blatant. Two persuasion strategies, three persuasion techniques, and the use of personal pronouns all serve covert persuasion purposes. And covert persuasion can be more effective than overt persuasion in that they batter serve positive face.


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How to Cite
Dawd, K. O. and Salih, S. M. (2020) “Covert Persuasion in English Advertisements and Political Speeches”, Koya University Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences, 3(1), pp. 41-52. doi: 10.14500/kujhss.v3n1y2020.pp41-52.
Author Biographies

Karzan O. Dawd, Bahar English Language Centre, Koya University, Kurdistan Region, Iraq

Karzan O. Dawd, is Former academic staff and Translator at Bahar English Language Centre. He holds a B.A. degree in Linguistics, Department of English Translation, Koya University (2013) and M.A. in English Linguistics, Koya University, (2020).

Salah M. Salih, Department of English Language, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Koya University, Kurdistan Region, Iraq

Salah M. Salih is an assistant professor of Linguistics & English Language at the Department of English Language & Translation at Koya University. He gained his BA in English Language & Literature from Al-Anbar University in 1995; MA and Ph.D. in Linguistics and English Language from Baghdad University in 2000 and 2003 respectively. He started his academic teaching in 1995 when he worked as the Lab Assistant at Al-Anbar University. In 1996, he joined the Department of English, College of Arts, Baghdad University to pursue his MA and Ph.D. study and teach there as well, he worked as a lecturer in the Department of English Language in both the College of Arts and the College of Languages, Baghdad University during the academic years 1997-2003. In 2003-2005, he worked as an Asst. Prof. and the Head of the Department of English Language at the College of Education, Seyoun, Hadhramout University for Science and Technology, Republic of Yemen. 


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Online References

Barack Obama appealing to Ethos. Accessed May, 2019

Donald Trump appealing to Logos Accessed May, 2019

Cognitive Dissonance, example of Pantene Shampoo Accessed May, 2019

Negative and Positive Motivation Accessed May, 2019

Appeals to Needs, Muhammadu Buhari, a Nigerian Presidential candidate speech: Accessed May, 2019

Rationalization technique used by Saddam Hussein. Accessed May, 2019 Accessed May, 2019

Suggestion, advertising a shampoo Accessed May, 2019

Nike’s slogan ‘You will Notice, You will scream’, an example of Conformity Accessed May, 2019

Compensation, iPhone 3G example Accessed May, 2019

Displacement Accessed May, 2019

Projection Accessed May, 2019

Choverlet ‘See it, Try it, and Buy it’ Accessed May, 2019

Obama’s Speech 2012 Election Campaign, an example of Covert Persuasion Accessed May, 2019

ASICS Company advertisement for sports products, an example of overt persuasion. Accessed May, 2019

Attention Value, an example from Snickers Hungry Campaign Accessed May, 2019

Example of Readability with AMX using Second Person Pronoun Accessed May, 2019

Cheryl Cole appearing in Casting Crème Gloss 2018 advertisement, an example of memorability Accessed May, 2019

Nike’s famous ‘Just Do It’ advertising, example of Selling Power Accessed May, 2019

An example of Alliteration used by Bill Clinton 1992Accessed May, 2019

Anaphora example used by Robert Kennedy 1968 Accessed May, 2019

Example of Antimetabole STOPS STATIC BEFORE STATIC STOPS YOU. Bounce Fabric Softener Accessed May, 2019

Example of Epistrophe in Nelson Mandela’s speech Accessed May, 2019

George Carlin’s famous Quote on religion ‘Atheism is a non-prophet organization”, an example of Puns. Accessed May, 2019

Example of Rhetorical Questions found in Ronald Reagan's 1980 Republican National Convention Acceptance Address. Accessed May, 2019

An example of Simile found in Martin Luther King, Jr. American Minister and activist. Accessed May, 2019

Metaphor example in Ronald Rogan’s speech 1985 Accessed May, 2019

Allusion Example found in Martin Luther King's speech 1963 Accessed May, 2019

Metonymy example in Obama’s national announcement of killing Bin Laden Accessed May, 2019

Another example of Covert Persuasion is found in Obama’s speech delivered March 18, 2008
Accessed May, 2019