RhetoricAnalysis in Regard to Treatment of Animals and Meat Industry

Initiatedin 1898, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is America’strade and marketing association for over one million cattle ranchersand farmers. The association overseas beef products sell andpromotion, information, research, and other related activities thatare financed by beef check off and other similar market investments.In addition, it also assumes the role of the federation for otherQualified State Beef Councils, and that it takes care of the dutiesand responsibilities that are assigned by the federation. As ranchersand family farmers, cattlemen have interest in offering protection tothe environment. They share, as responsive producers, an interest inmeeting the needs of the consumers around the world by guaranteeinghigh quality nutritious beef, while at the same time setting up ahigher quality and safety standards than the ones required by thegovernment. The purpose of this paper therefore is to examine NCBA’srhetorical analysis, rhetorical strategies, and argument in regard tothe treatment of animals and meat industry. In addition, the writerexamines the role of rhetorical strategies on the use ofadvertisements to trigger the people’s emotional appeal that canlead to actions.

First,mass media uses information to attract human attention by use ofvisual objects. Duke (43) says, “To see is to believe”. Thephrase reflects on the importance of using visual images to attractpeople to something. The visual images, visual artifacts, visualperformance, and other activities to “observe”, “see”, and“look”, and “watch” have conquered the society’s mind inthe United States. The use of images, especially advertisements,provides people with considerable influence. These images oftenfunctions as a way of dissemination of the message or work in arhetorical way. The use of visual rhetoric is influential in thatthese images impact on a number of human activities. Duke (45) givesassumptions as a way of comprehending rhetorical images. He arguesthat “images and words are often mixed together in an interestingrhetorical ways”, and thus the combination of visual and writtenimages become a powerful strategic way to create persuasive message.Thus, the image’s natural side can evoke certain imagination orreality to turn into something that the people can believe as thetruth and allow the communicator to try and deliver powerfulconvincing message to the receiver.

NCBA’sJustification of Controversy

“Everyday around the world, animals are incessantly fighting for their dearlives they are beaten, enslaved, and put in cages for them toperform for humans they are again confined and mutilated so thatthey can later be killed and eaten” – NCBA.

NCBAis an organization that deals with animals’ rights and meatindustry, which works hard to send a message by use of advertisementsto send a message and attract the public action in regard totreatment of animals (Atkins-Sayre 30). NCBA, however, usesrhetorical images to trigger controversy through their work. By doingthis, they ensure that controversial demonstrations enable them toestablish a lot of opportunities to pass across their intentions tothe society. NCBA mentions that it is necessary to stir people’sreaction in order to initiate a debate, argument, or a debate thatquestion’s the status quo, and eventually, action (Gruen 101).Therefore, the organization strives to ensure their use of rhetoricalimagery and argument is controversial and colorful, and thus grabsheadlines around the world of their stand on animal treatment and theuse of meat.

NCBA’sUse of Advertisement Appeal

NationalCattlemen’s Beef Association is much diversified in the manner inwhich they use their advertisements. The use of magazines thatemphasizes food, fitness parenting, men’s health and lifestyleensures that the association is forced to take the advertisements toa number of digital media such as social media sites. The targetedaudience in this case would be anyone that reads the magazine andfollows the digital media. NAME (page) noted that recent decline inthe sale of beefs and the growing concerns from the public over thesafety of the consumed meat products, and the inhumane treatment ofbeef animals. As a result of this, NCBA attempts to bring back theappeal and nutritional value of its products that had remainedAmerican symbol for generations, while staying away from the call ontransparency. These advertisements are:

“Wetreasure our businesses and we love our animals, and we love ourland. And all this goes together for sustainable in or operation” –Anne Wasco (Gate livestock/ Cattle trends).

“TheAmerican ranchers and farmers perform a better job in production offood effectively, and what I’m saying is, by efficiency, I mean theproduction of food with fewer resources” – Darien Williams(Executive Director, NCBA)

Theabove advertisement uses several features such as imagery to ensurethat their target audience agrees with NCBA. In addition, the imageuses rhetorical strategy to elicit reaction from the potentialcustomers. The first advertisement is a smart move by the NCBA toensure that the target market changes their behavior by sayingsomething like “please choose to be a vegetarian” at the sametime insisting that they treasure their animals and the business atthe same time. How the accompany argues this advertisement by way ofinsisting that the target customers should do it for the animals, thebusiness, and the environment (Duke, 31). This advertisement comesout as a plea but when studied intensively, it presents one of theNCBA arguments to persuade the audience to promote the business, atthe same time conserve the environment. How the advertisement ispresented comes out as intriguing since, instead of leaving thecustomers to find out on their own, they directly introduce theirmain intention at the onset of the advert.

Thisadvert gives an option to the target audience to choose to go for theproduct, conserve the environment, love the animals, or treasure theland. The options in this advertisement offer an argument that allowsthe audience to make up their minds. NBCA in this advert does notforce the audience to understand the intended massage, but rathergives options for the target customers to decide whether they want todeal with it by using dissonance by use of avoidance (Atkins-Sayre34). Again, the advert elicits formation of imagery in the sense thatit is inconsistent with vegetarianism’s idea since it opens up withjustifying the argument to eat the meat but from a different anglethat aims at conserving the natural environment.

Accordingto Duke (66), the manner in which NCBA objectify the idea is that ifconserving the environment is by treating the animals in an ethicalway, then it remains logical that consumption of other marketproducts which allows the animal to live more free before consumingwill then be justifiable to NCBA. Gruen (117) argues that the targetcustomers can change their actions while attempting to make adecision since the advert may argue that an individual can changetheir minds in the process of trying to interpret it, or due toargumentation process in trying to construct their own socialexperience.

Thesecond advertisement highlights some brilliant spots but is largely ableak picture, whereby one fails to acknowledge NCBA’s reason foroptimism. Nonhuman use of animals that seems to have been examinedshows how NCBA aims at using fewer resources to reach out to themasses on the importance of effective production of beef productionswhile at the same time saving the animals from torture. While NCBAaims at being vocal on the way the animal are treated while at thesame time appealing to the target market on the use of meat products,this all process prompts Smith (75) to point out that reflectiveprocesses occur after the decisions-making process. Smith (87)mentioned that after making a decision, for example, after beingconvinced by the advert, one could go back and re-assess thedecision, which often occurs after several minutes.

Revelationsthat claim that animals could routinely, as a matter of normalcy, berequired to live under certain conditions where they are not able tolie down, turn around, or even straighten their limbs is bothrepugnant or shocking to a lot of customers who are convinced by theadvertisement that NBCA aims at protecting the animals. All thismandated changes, according to Atkins-Sayre(109) have to be made by the responsible company and not theconsumers that will still have a chance to feel better about theanimal products shown by the advert.

Thethird advertisement is an image that shows a plate with food with alarge piece of meat preferably liver with less fat. According to Duke(89), of the modes of persuasion in an advertisement, which areprovided through the use of speech, there are three species: some arein the speaker’s character, others are in the disposition of thelistener and others are in argument with themselves by way of tryingto show something. In other words, there are three elements used asan art to persuasion. They include: Ethos – the rhetor, in thiscase the company, is perceived as credible by the audience. Pathos –the rhetor here tries hard to persuade the audience to make them feelcertain emotions. Logos – here, the rhetor uses arguments toperceive it as logic to attempt persuade.

Thesethree elements are called rhetorical appeals. Gruen (123) cautionsthat not all acts of persuasion make use of these appeals. First,Ethos is used to picture perception of the audience in the sense ofrhetors’ authority or credibility. For instance, the thirdadvertisement shows a plate of food, which is supposed to draw theaudience or customer to buy it. The large piece of meat is captionedwith “less fat”. For instance, the image gives the appeal topotential customers, and from this, it is easy to say that the plateof meat product has a strong ethos to the potential meat-eaters evenbefore. The image is assumed that, that is what is offered due to theappetizing image of the food.

Onthe other hand, Smith (111) cautions that the use of ethos that haslow appeal could send a wrong signal and that it could easily beassumed the company in question knows nothing about the product. Inaddition, the ethos could lack appeal especially if the rhetor, inthis case the NCBA, engages in rhetorical analysis and not payingattention to the audience demand and suddenly the appeal takes anose-dive. At the other extreme, the image is likely to have a higherethos appeal since from the image has a clear background with thesections well organized to persuade meat-lovers.

Secondly,the image uses pathos to attempt to describe NCBA’s plan to appealto the “audience sense of identity, their emotions, and theirself-interests”. If NCBA can be able to create common sense toidentity to its audience, then NCBA is using pathos appeal in thisadvertisement to appeal to them. If this advertisement appeals to theaudience and convinces them to spend in animal products withouttrying to cautions them to protect the animals, then it not onlystrengthens the NCBAs ethos appeal, but also makes pathos appeal tothem (Smith 67). In addition, this advertisement attempts to engagean appeal and emotions by viewing it before making a decision.

Duke(89) cautions that emotions felt here could result from the feelingto protect the animals instead of using them for food. The feelingsfelt here is rhetoric since they are felt only by the prospectivemeat-eaters and not the company itself. NCBA in this case is taskedwith protection of animals, at the same time, supply meat products.If in turn NBCA is not happy with the image it is using to advertise,then it in turn would not be obliging, and it should therefore not betaken as a pathos appeal.

Finally,NBCA’s rhetorical appeal uses logos to attempt its target market.“Logical appeal” in this case does not necessarily have to beconsidered logical for it to have a logical appeal. The target marketcan easily observe the picture that NCBA is trying to use its logosappeal for persuasion however, this observation does not necessarilymean NCBA intentions are succeeding. Atkins-Sayre (34) says thatlogos appeal is often used to describe the kind of rhetorical appealthat is being made, and not that the appeal made by the picture makessense at all. For instance, the picture used in the thirdadvertisement does not mean that whatever is shown is exactly what isoffered. The manner in which NCBA uses the appeal ensures that theremessage is passed across regardless of what would follow after that.Again, “logos” is using logical strategies to attempt andpersuade the buyers. If the advert attempts to persuade the observersby giving out a reasonable claim, then it gives out proof to supportthe claim, rather than try and make the potential buyers feelemotional so as to perceive the rhetor (NBCA) as credible.


Inconclusion, it is evident that advertisers know better. Although veryfew people are able to admit that they are easily swayed by adverts,be it in words or images. A very logic conclusion remains thatadverts works at a level that is below conscious awareness. It workseven to those who claim immune to its message. They are designed totrigger an effect even though they are at times belittled or ignored.

NCBAused adverts to try a pass across a message that appearedcontradictory in the sense that while the association is to ensureprotection to cruel treatment of animals across the country, theadverts on the other hand pushed for the use of animal products.

Thethree adverts used by NBCA offer different kind of reaction to them.The three adverts to some extend have emotional appeal that ispermeated through the messages to the observer, which endorsesspecific pieces of information and definition of embolden diverseproblem. NCBA choice of text adverts and the picture ensures thatpotential audience is in a position to evaluate their behavioralstandards before choosing the meal. The use of rhetorical imageryhowever, for emotional appeal could possibly lead to not only theawareness on the whole issue and action, but also the rejection andstrategy towards NCBA coping.


Atkins-Sayre,Wendy. Identity Shifting: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animalsand the Erosion of the Animal/human Divide. , 2005. Internetresource.

Duke,Rodney K. The Persuasive Appeal of the Chronicler: A RhetoricalAnalysis. Sheffield, England: Almond Press, 1990. Internet resource.

Gruen,Lori. Ethics and Animals: An Introduction. Cambridge, UK: CambridgeUniversity Press, 2011. Print.

Smith,Karen. &quotRhetorical Figures and the Translation of AdvertisingHeadlines.&quot Language and Literature. 15.2 (2006): 159-182.Print.

Smith,Kimberly K. Governing Animals: Animal Welfare and the Liberal State.New York: Oxford University Press, 2012. Print.