“This Is My Family” by Skype: An Analysis of the Advertisement

Technology is an integral part of today’s human life. Indeed, people use a variety of technological advancements in every sphere of man-centered existence. For instance, laptops, tablets and other computing devices are widely applied for studying, entertainment and leisure, while contemporary housewives cannot imagine their daily routine without multicooker’s assistance. As for advertisements, these marketing media tools have become the modes that overwhelm today’s world enticing the viewers for purchasing actions. What is more, practically each product of this field attempts to convince the audience that the goods or services offered are panacea for a particular sphere of their use conveying to the viewers that “technological change leads to productive social change” (Selfe 293). Therefore, the essay is determined to clarify the connection between technology and society on the basis of the analysis of an advertisement “This Is My Family” by Skype. 

Global Village vs. Electronic Colonial Narrative

To start with, drawing upon the content of the commercial under discussion, it is build in accordance with the analytical approach proposed by Selfe. However, no single approach has been used. On the contrary, the application of two paradigms of one common narrative category can be detected in this case. To be more precise, the advertisement has implications of both global village and electronic colonial narratives. Following the scholar’s reasoning, “the vision of linking people around the world” (Selfe 295) is appropriate for the global village narrative and such factor is clearly traceable in “This Is My Family.” This all-embracing connectedness is represented through symbolic visualization that is embodied in technological devices, such as tablets, allowing instant worldwide linkage between family members via Skype’s assistance. In this way, the concept developed by Skype and technologies which are mediators in producer-to-consumer relations reinforce social change as they allow making the world the global village literary, notwithstanding distances and timeframes.

On the other hand, the advertisement does not promote universalism as per the global village narrative whereas it is focused on a concrete community – Chinese throughout the globe. As a result, the media incorporates the features pertinent for the electronic colonial narrative that underlines “different cultures, different peoples exist to be discovered, explored, and marveled at” (Selfe 295). These characteristics are more than evident in this case. To illustrate, the audience observes (a) the country’s landscapes; (b) a variety of activities which family members perform in different parts of the world; (c) cuisine; (d) specific traits of Chinese, such as goal-oriented diligence and hard work; (e) close family relationships. Hence, the commercial demonstrates distinct attributes of a specified society group that evoke pride in its representatives in line with excitement and respect among other ethnicities.  

In accordance with the rationale provided, global-village and electronic-colonial narratives are intertwined in “This Is My Family,” emphasizing the specificities of the latter to a greater extent. Nevertheless, the advertisement does not overestimate the “values of homo faber – the tool maker” (Selfe 301). Conversely, it distinctly accents on the values of the community that has been chosen as a centerpiece of the commercial, while the homo faber is positioned as the one that makes these values available to the rest of society. Therefore, it can be asserted that such interpretation of Skype’s marketing video promotes social change, i.e. ensuring family or community connectedness throughout the globe, which is mediated by means of technology.

The Advertisement under Analysis through the Lens of Gamer Theory

At the same time, this reinforced by technology productive social change is of dubious nature since there are certain notes of Skype’s superiority in this respect. It is hard to disregard Wark and his gamer theory ascertaining that one is “left with nothing to believe in but one’s own God-given abilities” where God is “a game [commercial’s] designer” (par. 13). Indeed, the message conveyed via the media under discussion not simply emphasizes the connectivity between community members. The advertisement communicates this option with regard to Skype technology and opportunities it offers, including instant messaging, video calls, sharing different personal data, to list a few. All these issues can be referred to as “God-given abilities” proposed to consumers by the God, i.e. Skype designers. 

Regardless of that technology seemingly makes social change possible, it “refuses to leave us alone” (Botler and Grusin 3) and allows this change to happen only due to appropriate technological tools. Hence, human are left without any alternatives to choose from. The major theme sounds one-sided: namely, Skype, alone with tablets and other media devices, offers multidimensional connectedness options for the family worldwide. It follows that in order to be connected with the family that “watches one’s growth” and “grows with this person” (“This Is My Family”), the individual has to obtain this technology. In this regard, Skype remediates the connections that have been interrupted by distances between community members. Although this twofold controversy of the commercial shadows the overall positivism, relationships enabled by human-to-human connectedness owing to these instruments are still a worthy commodity to pay for. Thus, it can be stated that technology induces the change to occur and the value of instantaneous family communication it brings to consumers overweighs the level of “God-given abilities” it encourages the audience to use. 

Rhetorical Methods in Conveying the Intended Meaning

All previously argued characteristics of the advertisement with respect to society-to-technology relationship are achieved by means of rhetorical tools applied by the authors to reach the targeted market segment.

Logos 

The logical appeal embedded in the commercial is clearly persuasive to the viewers. The brightest examples of logos in the video are linked to the definition strategy. In particular, this issues is observed concerning defining what family or in a broader sense Chinese community is. In this way, the media accents on that there is “no other like it,” “sharing secrets and stories,” “having own language,” “working hard,” family that “adores food,” “inseparable and never apart” (“This Is My Family”), to list a few. Also, analogy implications are evident in the video: for instance, when underlining specificities of the family/ ethnic group in question, the rhetor asserts, “If others don’t understand, so be it” (“This Is My Family”). Thus, the values of this exact community and the otherness of its members is the main point to accent on. In this case, electronic colonial narrative attributes are proved. As a result, these descriptions of family, i.e. Chinese community as a unit, combined with visual representations of these definitions in motion provide an ample proof that suffices to support the claim made in the commercial. Namely, all these logical appeals allow stating that the message conveyed is a logical argument showing that human-to-technology connection is undoubted in the contemporary world and it reinforces social change.   

Pathos 

Undoubtedly, pathetical appeal is as mush clearly distinguished in the commercial and strengthens the overall impression from perception of the message communicated. The central emotions which this media content is aimed to evoke are love and respect towards the family/ community depicted. This goal is achieved by means of such expressions as “my family,” which is used 13 times per one minute 38 seconds of the video duration, and “brothers and sisters” (“This Is My Family”). It follows that the advertisement targets the exact part of the society rather than community in general and the above-indicated pathos implications clearly show this tendency. In any case, even this rhetorical tool is illustrated through technological means. Specifically, the emotional strength of the rhetor’s explanations is multiplied through the prism of visual images. “My family” is perceived under various angles throughout the video, such as different community members around the globe performing different activities, Chinese national cuisine dishes, modern art forms, etc., which are all pictured or filmed by digital devices and spread to all families. Hence, technology induces social change in this regard as well.  

Ethos

Ethos as a way to ensure credibility of the information communicated by making “claims about the world, which players [viewers] can understand, evaluate, and deliberate” (Bogost 119) is also traceable in the discussed marketing media. This rhetorical method is of intrinsic nature, meaning it is solely concentrated on the narrator’s speech. It is interesting to note that the one is competent to make any judgments about own family/ community since he is its direct representative, with the same traits and values. Simultaneously, any Chinese can be in the identical position. The video, the images, and the picture as a whole allow drawing on such a conclusion, underlying society-to-technology connectedness and visa verse. Thus, credibility of the advertisement is proved as well. 

Kairos

Furthermore, kairos as a rhetorical instrument provides additional evidence basis for the commercial with respect to maintenance of changes in social relationships and capturing these moments through technology modes. This feature refers to combination of the time lapse and space concerning “my family” concept. In this regard, the advertisement unites the images of family in different moments of their development, within a range of spatial characteristics, sometimes even with dates indicated. In any way, all those events are related to space-time interconnectedness as it is relevant to community the narrator belongs to since all its members “watched me grow and grew with me” as he asserts (“This Is My Family”). Therefore, this means of rhetoric is also suited towards achieving a generalized objective of the commercial which is demonstrating connectedness of the society as a whole through time and space constraints due to technology that is promoted, Skype. 

Conclusion 

Following the discussion held in the paper, it is undoubtedly that there is a clear connection between technology and society as it has been evidenced by the analysis of the advertisement “This Is My Family” by Skype. What is more, this media defines connectedness as the central dimension of human relationships maintained via the marketed technology. Despite that the worldwide connectedness is a concept relevant to global village narrative as an approach in tracing the aforementioned interrelation, there are more proofs to consider that the content of the video is more focused on the electronic colonial narrative. In particular, the commercial underlines otherness of the family, or more explicitly Chinese community, as the centerpiece of respect and admiration due to inner strength of family relations that keep all its members together, notwithstanding any obstacles. Of course, the advertisement can be regarded from the gamer’s perspective in a rather negative light. Namely, the interpretation of the video in accordance with Wark’s theory allows assuming that consumers are incapable to connect with their families and community at large without the opportunities offered by Skype. Nevertheless, the value of human relationships that can be obtained owing to this social connectivity network overweighs the sense of the above-indicated objection. What is more, the rhetorical appeals used in the commercial, such as ethos, pathos, logos, and kairos, provide enough evidence to support positive implications that derive out of the connectedness established as a result of technology-to-community interaction.   

Works Cited

  1. Bogost, Ian. “Procedural Rhetoric.” Persuasive Games: The Expressive Power of Videogames. Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2010. 1-64. Print.
  2. Bolter, Jay David, and Richard Grusin. “Introduction: The Double Logic of Remediation.” Remediation: Understanding New Media. Greenville: Graphic Composition, Inc. 2-19. PDF file.
  3. Jones, Yannakis. “This Is My Family”: Skype. Advertisement. YouTube. th2ng, 19 Sep. 2014. Web. 18 Oct. 2014. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJ0GSEt-PR0>
  4. Selfe, Cyntia L. “Lest We Think the Revolution Is a Revolution: Images of Technology and the Nature of Change.” In Passions, Pedagogies, and 21st Century Technologies. Eds. Gail E. Hawisher, and Cynthia Selfe. Logan: Utah State UP, 1999. 292-322. Print.
  5. Wark, M. “Agony (On the Cave).” PDF file.

 

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