Rhetoric Quest: Bottling happiness

In classical, Christian education, the art of rhetoric is about communicating truth persuasively.

Everyone uses tools of persuasion, so we must learn to recognize, practice, and use them deliberately in the service of truth. Join me every Monday this spring for a new Rhetoric Quest blog post featuring some of the metaphors and other rhetorical devices that make their way into ordinary speech.

“Coca-Cola Santa Billboard.” West Hollywood, 2012.

Metonymy sighting! Advertising billboards rely heavily on rhetorical devices, because they need to make an emotional claim using very few words. This is a sneaky example of metonymy (letting something that is closely associated stand in for a person, event, or idea). The Santa in the image is not opening “happiness” in the abstract; he’s opening a bottle of Coca-Cola. The Coca-Cola company hopes to convince consumers that Coke and happiness are so closely related that you can name one and mean the other.

**This is your chance to talk about the difference between rhetoric (persuasion aimed at truth) and sophistry (persuasion aimed at personal gain). Sometimes they use the same tool box, but their purposes differ.

To recap:

Metonymy = Referring to something by naming an object or concept that is closely associated with it.

Message = Happiness stands in for Coca-Cola, and vice versa.

Your turn! What figurative language can you spot today?


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