The Sophists & Aristotle’s Newest Oldest Advertising Trend?

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It’s Honesty…

Here’s why:

Honestly, nothing can be more comfortable from a buyer’s perspective than buying from a reputable and trustworthy source. Yet we’ve still seen advertisers over the decades move more towards social and psychological tactics in their copy and creatives, to the end of well, of course… increasing their sales.

Obviously we wouldn’t have these ‘larger’ companies contending in such irreputable and at sometimes hysterical commercials, did they not serve to increase their revenue’s satisfactorily. I’ll try not to name any names but some examples may prove necessary.

In my humble opinion (even though judging your own opinion humble just isn’t so) I’ve found over and through hundreds of written and performing ads honesty to be the best and most sustainable selling/marketing tool.

What do I mean by this?

Building a brand with an honest story, a background, and relatable piece of culture, is key to making a memorable company in the eye’s of your audience.

Sure, FOMO(fear of missing out), Flash Sales, Social Proof, and many other compliance practitioning tactics work, but at the end of the day what brings people back isn’t just Quality, Value, Convenience, (QVC) but trust, relationship, and the shared belief in a message bigger than both customer and company.

How To Make That Message

Long ago around the 5th century BC in Ancient Greece, there were a bunch of hip kids who loved to talk called ‘The Sophists.’

But they didn’t just talk… No, they built upon the art of talking; by developing speaking, reading, writing, and debating skills. They taught people how to come up with persuasive arguments and influence those around them with their words.

Rhetoric is any form of using language for persuasive ends. Akin to copywriting in the modern sense 2 millennia later, it is an art or skill, I would say more useful now than ever with the ease of ability to reach people with your words via the internet and globalization. The only thing is; the more people with words to say, the harder it is to have yours heard.

But competition is key to any survival setting, and after-all capitalism is the most competitive environment of them all.

Despite the popularity of the Sophists, one gentlemen was going on about their methods of persuasion containing a little too much Pathos, meaning they were a little too emotional, a little too poetic, a little too lacking in, well… logic and proof; or Logos.

Aristotle believed there was a better way at persuading people without using all that fancy stuff (hardcore relations, big words and what not). What we would today call: fake review commercials, political hate-speeches, emoji-ridden Facebook ads, and the like…

So Aristotle came up with these three methods of persuasion you’ll often hear.

ETHOS: (Ethic, Moral, Ideology)

He pretty much said having good morals wasn’t enough; you had to establish this to your audience.

In other words, it doesn’t matter how wonderful and ethical a person you are if you don’t know how, or are unable to communicate that!

This is not about putting on a front, but rather revealing your character with whatever proof you can.

LOGOS: (Reason, Discourse, Philosophy)

To put it simply, Logos means if you want to make a point, you’d better back it up with relatable representation (Reason, Proof, and/or Logic).

PATHOS: (Emotion, Experience)

Pathos is the part the Sophists were well at because it means whipping up emotions.

Aristotle was all for moving people emotionally to aid his persuasions, as long as it was based on sound Ethos and backed up by staunch Logos.

And while I’m not one for writing by the rules entirely… I completely see the reason to create them, and highly recommend rubric like structures for any writer looking to put their works to the test.

Pop Quiz

Which Headline appeal here is the best example of Pathos?

A. Recommended by 9 out of 10 Dentists.
B. This Crazy Critter Kills More People Than Sharks.
C. Every time you fail to donate, another child misses a meal.

– Cheers

It’s C by the way 😉

Mackenzie Andres


Founder | Best-Selling Author


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