Spend Less, Gain More

In this 1972 Honda advertisement we can see the clear use of visual rhetoric. The price of the vehicle is not shown in text that much larger than the regular descriptive text. 1972 was a year where economic stability still existed within middle class families which would last until 1973 with the oil crisis, but playing to the time period we can see how the price itself was not highlighted but instead what could be done with the money you save. The advertisement makes a bold statement here implying that by saving money on a car you could use the money to get women. Obviously the 1970s were not the height of female equality, and the direct objectification of women is prevalent here. In the center of the advertisement we have the Honda Coupe itself, looking shiny and new, which is appealing in its own right but it is not what the advertisement is aiming for. Eight women surround the car all dressed in different sporty outfits which are all slightly revealing and our eyes are drawn there. The company might claim that the money you save is to be spent on the different activities that the women are participating in like tennis, skiing, and going to the rodeo, but the text tells us otherwise. It states the difference between the Honda Coupe and a nice muscle car, and the asks what “you” would rather have, the nice car “or Michelle and Tammy and Alison?” Traditionally the community that loves cars and buying and customizing them has been men, and we can see that men are definitely the target demographic for this advertisement. The advertisement also pulls the stereotypical male advertisement guise, playing to their ego. The Honda Coupe is labeled as the smart man’s car, why pick a big noisy car when you can be smart and choose something fuel efficient? While you’re at it you can use that money to get girls that the other guys cannot because they did not make the right choice. The color choice is also rhetorical as red is usually a color representing sex, speed, and ambition, things all men are expected to value. The sexual nature and competitive stance the advertisement takes creates a visual rhetoric that definitely worked for the time.

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