Blog 4: Classical & Contemporary Rhetorical Theory in Agricultural Communications

I appreciate the insight and discussion all of you are contributing to this blog – keep it up!

Now, on with this week’s readings. The classical theorists are an important foundation for rhetoric today. As you may suspect, rhetoric plays an important role in agricultural communications. The credibility and respect of speakers is an issue dealt with in agricultural communications regularly. This concept of the credibility of a speaker is often referred to as source credibility. If you are interested in more about this theory, here is a link to a thesis about source credibility and agricultural opinion leaders. We will discuss theories of persuasion more in depth later in the semester, but for now I would like to explore some of the basic tenants: logos, ethos, and pathos. In agricultural communications we often see persuasive messages crafted using logos, which certainly has powers of persuasion. When explaining complex scientific topics, logical appeals make sense. However, there are times when logos messages are too complicated and turn off a receiver of the message. The Beef Check-off program has done an excellent job of combining logos and ethos through the use of facts comparing chicken to lean cuts of beef, while milk has effectively used celebrities in advertisements from all different backgrounds and genre which combine ethos with the celebrity connection and logos with the health benefits and nutritional information in the advertisements.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An example of a video that seeks to appeal to emotions is this Common Ground video. By showing farmers as moms just like the other moms in the grocery store, ethos is used. The mom farmers also use logos as they discuss their farms. How effective do you think an effort like this is?

What examples have you seen of agricultural communications utilizing logos, ethos, and/or pathos? Which principle do you see agricultural communications utilizing the most? Which standard of theory evaluation or development, discussed in previous chapters, does this speak to?

As we move to contemporary rhetoric, we see the basic premises of classic rhetoric evolve into specific theories. As agricultural communicators seek to engage with the public and alter or change their perceptions, text and discourse are often used as units of analysis. Sometimes the perceptions people have of the agricultural industry are based on images or symbols as seen in the theory of symbolic convergence.  We have all seen the picture of an old man in overalls standing in a golden field of wheat, or a plow and horse. Perhaps these are not symbols of modern agriculture, but symbols none-the-less, and perhaps may even fall into a fantasy theory. Narratives are often built on images, text, and discourse combined. While people may have a fantasy picture of agriculture that is either positive or negative, as agricultural communicators seek to change that narrative it is important to be aware of narrative fidelity. Will it ring true to the receiver? The process of working toward narrative fidelity may be viewed as strategic action. We see the theory of communicative action represented as the public strives for answers to how their food is produced. Communicative orientation indicates it is their right to ask and seek the truth. Agricultural communicators should be prepared to share a narrative strategically, truthfully, and in a way the public is prepared to receive it.

One example of a strategic narrative is Chipolte. Chipotle often divides those in the agricultural community. No matter how you feel about Chipotle, its advertising is persuasive. What theories of rhetoric do you see represented in Chipolte’s ad here?

How could conventional agriculture use the same theory(s) to its advantage?

19 thoughts on “Blog 4: Classical & Contemporary Rhetorical Theory in Agricultural Communications

  1. This blog is really interesting to me because I believe that the way that agriculture is perceived is extremely vital to the entire scenario in the world of agriculture. Using efforts such as the mom farmer plays a huge role in communicating agriculture to the rest of the world. Being able to relate those in agriculture to even woman who live in metropolitan areas goes a long way so that they can see the resemblance. The beef check off example in my mind was extraordinary. I am very familiar with the beef check off as my father is heavily involved in livestock auctions and the buying and selling of cattle. So many dollars from each animal that enters the sale arena goes to the beef check off program. Therefore, by growing up around it I have witnessed the communication strategies of the beef check off as well as the entire National Cattlemen’s Association. The logos, ethos, and pathos are all huge in each of those affiliations as well as the entire realm of agriculture. For example, the National Cattlemen’s Association advertises the NCBA letters in the map of the United States. Just as any other marketing and communication tool, it is easily recognizable when we see the logo to know the association or organization being represented.
    Next, the Chipotle example is a neat narrative choice that puts together the entire circle of advertising and communication as Chipotle has caused major discussion within the agricultural community. Chipotle has a strong opinion and has done a successful job of persuaded those that are not as knowledgeable and that can be swayed in their beliefs into thinking their way. Those are strong supporters of agriculture do no buy into their ways of communication but on the other hand those that do not already have an opinion are likely to buy into their narrative. I found the following theories of rhetoric being used:

    • Sad music that plays a huge role in the entire narrative as being less exciting and believable. Agriculture is portrayed in the narrative as being negative and the music enhances that.
    • Scarecrow that Chipotle has in a narrative who is at the processing plan where cattle are harvested for the food chain. He is showing negative forms of the plant rather than explaining to the public that in order to feed the world this is the chain of events etc. the narrative was to turn those that are not agriculture enthusiasts against animal agriculture and livestock.
    • Constant use of the logo with the narratives so that the messages in the narratives can constantly be tied together with the persuading atmosphere of the communications aspect of the advertising.

    Conventional agriculture can use the same theory by potentially providing narratives that portray agriculture in today’s society. The blog discusses the fantasy picture of agriculture and in the light that all farmers are older gentleman with overalls and a pitch fork usually even in the white farm house with all the animals around. Much of farming has held true throughout the years however, many farmers in today’s world are much different than the fantasy image alone paints. Just as anything over the years transformed so has farming. As communicators of agriculture we should allow others to be educated on the fact that farmers do not have to look or dress in a particular manner and that agriculture plays a role in the lives of many individuals. I believe that it is successful to advocate for agriculture by promoting the positive aspects to individuals from all walks of life.

  2. Ashlyn,

    I agree with your thoughts about how agriculture is perceived and viewed. The public holds an important view of agriculture, that continues to influence all, including the agricultural community and the public. Your view of the video of the mom farmer is spot on. The mom in the household is typically the one responsible for food decisions, so it is extremely important to make the connection between the mom farmer and the mom not involved in agriculture. Though this may be my personal theory that the mom typically grocery shops, it could be one that is researched! All of your examples of communication strategies is extremely helpful in helping grasp the reading better. Personally, the most effective way to communicate rhetoric to me is through pathos. While I say that, I imagine how beautiful a mature wheat field looks at sunset during harvest. It gives me a proud kind of feeling to be a part of agriculture. Your example of NCBA and the map may be appealing to one that is extremely patriotic and will want to know what the organization is and what it stands for.

    Chipotle is a touchy subject in my mind for agriculture. While the videos they released did indeed make a division, Chipotle was extremely effective with their strategic strategies. While I am among one of those who will no longer give Chipotle my business, I agree that they were successful.

    I like your connection to conventional agriculture and today’s society. While you are saying that most people portray the very picture I painted above as today’s agriculture, it’s not always like that. We have advanced so far and must continue to do this as food supply must increase.

    It’s always a pleasure reading your responses Ashlyn!

  3. I loved the short video clip of “Ask a Farmer”. I think a campaign like this would be extremely effective to not only the industry, but also to the consumers. By using mothers to answer questions, it really plays into consumers ethos. Consumers are able to empathize with the mothers/farmers and find a common ground when it comes to putting food on the table for their families. They are able to see that if these mothers are willing to use what they produce and feed their families, the products are safe and wholesome. The farmers can also take the face to face time, to appeal to the logos of the consumers. Taking woman from two different realities, rural and suburban, and putting them together, allows for each side to see the actuality of each other’s situations. It also gives the farmers the opportunity to talk about agricultural operations and explain the how’s and why’s of the industry. They appear more transparent and vulnerable, in a sense, when they are right there answering questions.

    One example of agricultural communications that comes to mind that utilizes ethos and possibly logos is, “the other white meat” campaign done by the National Pork board. The campaign was run to eliminate the negative connotation that pork was a fatty unhealthy meat in comparison to other lean meats such as chicken. They brought awareness to the fact that pork is actually fairly low in calories, which was contrary to belief. Another example that came to mind was the campaign run by The Beef Check-off program, “Beef its what’s for dinner”. They used famous celebrity voices over the years to draw attention to consumers. The commercials also drew on the values and traditions of the “traditional American family” and appealed to consumers in that fashion as well. It is hard to pick which of the three principles is used the most in agricultural communications. A lot of the time campaigns and commercials will incorporate more than one. I do feel that ethos, is a leading contender, especially in this day in age. People want to know where their food is coming from, and the industry is focused on persuading and convincing individuals to eat our products. I could be going about this next question completely wrong, but I think ethos plays into the standard of theory evaluation of credibility. Ethos is about convincing consumers and proving their credible sources.

    In the Chipotle add I can see various aspect of all the theories mentioned in the book. However, there are two that stand out the most, when concerning the short video clip. The first is the Narrative Paradigm. In Fischer’s Narrative Paradigm, he believed that the world is viewed as a series of stories that competed for our attention, according to the book. The text also explains that we evaluate these stories via socialization and not training. In the video, one can see that the commercial really has nothing, literal, to do with burritos and other food items Chipotle sells. Through context and past social queues, we are able to see that the commercial is referring to the fact that all the ingredients used in Chipotles food is “real”. I feel that this explanation also plays a role in the theory of communicative action. In Habermas’s theory, according to the book, humans act in the world in a strategic or communicative way. This commercial was extremely strategic and almost satirical in a way, almost calling out other restaurants implying they use food that is deemed “not real”. They also use humor strategically as a way to connect with consumers and potentially build interest in future customers.

    Conventional agriculture could use these same theories to draw on customers past positive experiences and create a story like advertisement to draw in potential customers. By using a strategic story line, producers could play off of consumers pathos, logos, or ethos and use stories that shed light on their emotions, logical thinking or ethics to sway their decisions. Agriculturist could also use the Narrative Paradigm to help construct a positive perception of agriculture.

    1. Kelsey,

      Awesome post! I enjoyed learning about your opinion regarding this blog! Growing up on the family farm I can definitely relate to several of the aspects that you addressed. The “Ask a Farmer” campaign gives insight into the background of the farmer as well as a mother who lives on a farm. It also allows us as agriculturalists to reflect on farming over the years and how the typical “farmer” has been altered. The farmer today is much the same as well as vastly different than it was fifty years ago or even ten years ago. I also was able to relate to the beef check off discussion as my family makes our living buying and selling cattle. My father spend the majority of his time in livestock markets across the midwest buying cattle so I am very family with the impact that the beef check off has. I spend lots of time reading cattle and farming publications and the logo and marketing aspects of the beef check off has worked tremendously well and is very easy to spot in those publications. In addition, Chipolte is much the same in the fact that most individuals that are a part of agriculture do not like the restaurant chain but they have been successful communicating their message. Keep up the good work!

      Ashlyn Richardson

  4. A few years ago, I attended a conference through the Soybean Commission in Nashville. During the conference, there was one presenter that brought up the issue of GMOs (I apologize for always using GMOs as an example!). In his presentation, he pointed out that most our food originates from a different plant and was eventually genetically modified into a specific food we consume. I couldn’t quite remember which foods they were, but knew that most originate from Brassica Olarecea (wild mustard plant). When I did some quick research, I found a picture that refreshed my mind. Brussel Sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, and kohlrabi are a few vegetables that originated from the wild mustard plant. This type of communication appeals to those that favor logical reasoning, logos.
    Logos, pathos, and ethos have to be used to encircle all types of people. While my first example may appeal to those with a preference of logical reasoning, this type of communication may not be appealing to the mother concerned about the safety of food for her children. Communication much like the mom farmer in the grocery store may be an effective approach for a concerned mother.

    Agriculture, just like every industry uses all examples of pathos, ethos, and logos to communicate. Logos is heavily used, at times even as a defensive approach. Even as I provided the example of the wild mustard plant, I felt like I was defending agriculture. This could be a way to provide data and “prove” our point. The approach may not be effective, but may if ethos or pathos are combined with logos, the communication is more successful.

    Personally, pathos is most appealing to me, especially when it comes to commercials. Any commercial with a puppy, dog or baby always seems to hit me in the heart. Sometimes the music that is paired with the commercial or the facial expressions of the people is the most effective way to communicate to me. Numbers and data are not typically something that interests me, so logos is not as effective. How does pathos, logos, ethos effective you? Is there one that is the most effective way of communicating to you?

    I really enjoyed the Chipotle commercial Dr. Baker provided. It is pretty funny how contradictory the commercial is though. Chipotle is advertising how “real” their ingredients are, but yet create a fantasy world of the actor inside of a burrito. Obviously an individual isn’t capable of hanging out inside of a burrito. The fantasy part of this commercial provides comedy and appeals to a viewer. I most likely wouldn’t have made this connection a month ago. I would have just commented on how clever the commercial was, grumbled a bit about Chipotle, and went about my day. But, this class and the discussions have creates more awareness of communication processes in my life. This commercial would be a wonderful way to strike up a conversation with the public and provide an opportunity to share about agriculture.

    Conventional agriculture could use the fantasy theory by Ernest Bormann several different ways. The fantasy/dream of a little boy growing up to be a farmer like his dad is an effective communication, showing a sense of family and belonging.
    Building a picture of the growing population and limited food supply is an idea that can develop a fantasy. Today, we don’t truly know what life will be like with a human population of 9.5 billion in 2050. This allows all people to create a picture of what this may be like and how it makes them feel. I like Bormann’s example of a group of college students bashing the department, and as the comments progress, the energy increases. If people shared their feelings about the increasing population, the same effect may be reached.

    1. Jessica, you touched on a key point within the agricultural industry. There are so many misconceptions about agriculture, and I always feel the need to prove my point. I also believe that many other agricultural communicators feel the same way. I consider myself to be a pragmatist and a logical thinker. Thus, my natural reaction is to turn to logos when trying to prove my point. However, I don’t think (generally speaking) that this is the most effective way to craft messages when trying to reach people of the general public. You mentioned that puppies and babies tug at your heart strings every time, and as an agricultural communicator this is important to hear. Our opponents often seem to get ahead of us by using pathos and appealing to emotion, so as an agricultural communicator, this tells me that I should be doing the same. Perhaps, the use of logos and pathos together will help me construct messages that will persuade the general public to trust in the agricultural community.

      I’m not a fan of Chipotle, but I agree that the use of fantasy in the Chipotle was funny and effective. I think that the word “real” was used brilliantly to represent the perceived high value of Chipotle’s ingredients.

      I also loved your example of a way that conventional agriculture could use fantasy to their advantage. Your concept of a little boy growing up to be like his dad reminded me of the Dodge Ram commercial (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AMpZ0TGjbWE) that was played during the 2013 Super Bowl. In this commercial we can see the use of ethos through Paul Harvey’s speech and the use of pathos through the emotional appeal of the hard life of the farmer. In my opinion this commercial utilized the narrative paradigm by telling a story about the life of a farmer and the reason that God made a farmer. Because Dodge Ram showed that it supports farmers, the audience was given a good reason to buy Dodge Ram trucks.

      Thank you for your key insights! I always enjoy reading your posts, especially the part about GMO’s. I think GMO’s represent a big misconception that agriculture needs to address, and your comments are valued in the discussion.

      Best,
      Alyssa S.

  5. In thinking about examples of agricultural campaigns, I reviewed a micro-documentary (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uEI5fp_X6yU&feature=youtu.be) that my organization produced, and I was able to see the principles of logos, ethos, and pathos all utilized in the video. In order to understand the video, I need to provide you with a bit of context. The non-profit that I work for is an organization that helps ranchers (when they ask us to) conserve their rangeland through a conservation easement. Historically, conservation easements have been controversial within the ranching community in California; however, my organization has been working hard to build trust within the community. As you can see from watching the micro-documentary, it utilizes logos, ethos, and pathos to appeal to the ranching audience. The video uses logos by discussing the positive impact that ranching has on local food supplies. It also utilizes ethos by showing a ranching family. This helps to establish credibility within the ranching community because the audience (other ranchers) can connect to the importance of hard work, passion for the land and Western lifestyle, and family- all things valued many rancher within the Western culture. Finally, the video utilizes pathos. You can see Karen (the mother in the video) get emotional about why her family continues to ranch. Even though cattle ranching is not the most lucrative business, Karen explains that her family keeps ranching because that is what they’re passionate about. This has emotional appeal to the audience.

    I enjoyed watching the Common Ground video. My guess is that it was/is very effective. This video showed that farmers and non-farmers have more in common than one may think. The video uses the mother to mother connection to appeal to emotion, which in my opinion, is incredibly effective.

    One thing that really stood out to me in this week’s reading was that classical rhetorical theorists believed that pathos was a “powerful and necessary proof but were fearful that emotions could interfere with their ideal of rational decision making” (p. 84). In my opinion, appeal to emotion has been used consistently by anti-agricultural groups, such as PETA, and has resulted in negative perceptions of the agricultural industry by members of the general public.

    Traditionally, I have seen logos primarily used in agricultural communications. Although recently, I have seen the principle of pathos in combination with the principle of logos being utilized more and more. Agricultural communicators are beginning to “fight fire with fire” and combating anti-agricultural campaigns that appeal to emotion with campaigns that utilize logos and pathos.

    Personally, I think that the traditional use of logos in agricultural communications speaks to the standard of deductive theory development. Aristotle, like many involved in agriculture, was a pragmatist. Aristotle used theory combined with observations to confirm his theories related to rhetoric and public speaking. Agricultural communicators have traditionally taken a similar path and used scientific theories combined with observations to confirm these theories.

    In the Chipotle video, I spotted a couple of theories used, including:
    • The Theory of Logology- The video uses the word “real” to describe the ingredients inside the burrito. The word “real” is used to invoke a sense of right or wrong. In this case, “real” ingredients are right and “fake” ingredients are wrong. This motivates the audience to eat at Chipotle because the food contains “real” ingredients. This appeals to the values held be the audience.
    • The Symbolic Convergence Theory- The video creates a fantasy theme. The fantasy theme can be seen as the actress describes her idea of a “real” musician- someone playing the drums with tight pants, a dark past, and a tour bus. The actress concludes that because the pianist in the background does not have those characteristics, he is not in her eyes, a “real musician”. The goal is for the audience to share the fantasy, and for it to persuade them to eat at Chipotle because they have a good reason to do so.

    I think that conventional agriculture could use the theory of logology to its advantage by using specific terminology like “traditional”, “safe”, “proven”, and “protect”. These terms, when used appropriately, can invoke a sense of high values and moral obligation/motivation. For instance, the organization that I work for often uses the word “protect” in our communications strategies. For instance, we say that cattle ranchers, including conventional cattle ranchers, protect local food supplies. This has proven to be an effective strategy in our messaging because supporters have a motive to support cattle ranching and the western culture.

    Additionally, I think that conventional agriculturalists can utilize the symbolic convergence theory effectively. By creating fantasy themes, they can create an interpretation that persuades members of the general public to support conventional agriculture. For instance, an ad campaign that shows a mom caring for her child can be compared to a cattle rancher caring for their cattle. This could attempt to persuade the general public to support cattle ranching, because they have a good reason to, since cattle ranchers care about their cattle as much as mothers care about their children.

    – Alyssa S.

    1. Alyssa,

      Thank you for sharing the video that your organization produced. I found it to be highly effective in presenting all three principles of logos, ethos, and pathos. You hinted on the fact that your organization helps “only when asked upon,” the controversy that follows the conservation easements, makes it that much more urgent for your organization to appeal to rancher’s in many aspects. The video discusses the importance of conservation easement and uses multiple examples of logos, ethos, and pathos to build the credibility and trust between the organization and the ranching community.

      You bring up a very valid point when you discuss anti-agricultural groups using the appeal of pathos to sway individual’s decisions on agriculture. I personally think pro-agriculture groups should utilize pathos to their advantage more often, as well. They could explain the importance of utilizing antibiotics and GMO’s in agricultural productions and pair it with images of sick untreated cattle and diseased crops. It might draw more resonance with individuals who don’t fully understand agricultural practices.

      I to agree, that the theory of logology could be applied to the chipotle video. The video contains little to no relevance to burritos or any products chipotle sells for that matter, in the actual commercial. The word “real” draws upon people’s context to connect the dots and come to the conclusion themselves. I had not considered the Symbolic Convergence Theory. You bring up a good point when you talk about the actress’s fantasy of a “real musician.” I see your connection of using fantasy to get consumers to eat at chipotle, but for me this was a little bit of a stretch. I would have liked to see something with more relevance to products of chipotle.

      Consumers, more now than ever, are more intuitive to where their food is coming from. They want to know that they are getting something healthy and wholesome. Using words to create a sense of environment that is safe, healthy, raised right, and so forth, is extremely important for the agricultural industry moving forward.

    2. Alyssa,

      I love how you are able to incorporate many firsthand experiences with the three principles. It is great to see how you are understanding the class readings and able to directly find examples in your life. The video from your organization is a great example of how to combine all three principles. Often when I look at new principles or theories, I am always trying to figure out how to best combine all the aspects. I learned a lot about the efforts of conservation efforts in California from the video which spurred me to look into more research on the web. I would say it is a very effective tool as it got me interested in the topic!

      I also like how you brought up the importance of emotion but also the fear that the classical theorists had regarding it. I had a good reflection when I started to think about how important emotion was in communication. This same week, I was grading FFA Creed and demonstration speeches in my classroom. As I was scoring the students, I realized how much emphasis is on emotion and speaking from the heart on the rubrics. It is interesting how at one time, we feared emotion but now we expect our star speakers to portray emotion while they speak. The emotion is what helps us buy-in to what they are saying.

      The theory of logology is one that I had not thought of while reading this weeks materials until you had explained how it fit in your view. I agree that the video was portraying right and wrong with the emphasis on the world real. This made me analyze how my industry uses this theory and the most frequent term we use is experiential learning. That is the world we want people to reference when they think of agricultural education.

      Great job this week.

      Christina P.

    3. Alyssa,

      I didn’t think about the point you made about the pianist not being a real musician since he wasn’t in her eyes. That makes us think about the definition of terms by what they want and not what we previously knew.

      Additionally, I completely agree with you on the pathos in agriculture. I thought about the PETA campaigns as well when I read through that part. We have sometimes lacked in that area when sending out information.

      I also really enjoyed the video you shared with us. It’s important to get back to these basics and focus when creating and reviewing campaign and content ideas. We sometimes forget or overlook concepts about including ethos, logos, and pathos. I also think it is difficult as communicators to keep a fresh mind when reviewing our products, methods, and details of communication. This past summer I was involved in focus groups regarding a dairy sustainability video in California that our organization had produced. The littlest things, such as music, had no effect on me because I had watched it so many times and had the opposite effect on others the first time watching the video. It’s interesting to see all the things people do or don’t pick up on and compare their thoughts to your own.

      Thanks for sharing!

      – Anissa Zagonel

  6. The video by common ground was very appealing to me as I am new mom. I can constantly relate to the new concern over what food I give my child to eat. Is it better to give her pureed food that I make at home or the easy to grab prepackaged baby food at the store? If there was a push button for me to talk to the processors who create the baby food, I think I would be more prone to analyze and reflect on my decision. I think that common ground does a great job addressing pathos and starting to create a path for ethos in the dialogue. They are giving the farmer’s a face which is in turn creating a reputation and defining their character head on instead of relying on newspapers. I think common ground does a great job reaching a portion of the market who are buying food but what about college age students? Single adults? There are still large groups that would not be drawn to this video. It would be interesting to show a mix of audiences instead of exclusively moms.

    One example that jumps to the front of my mind when reflecting on how agricultural communications has utilized logos, ethos or pathos is the documentary Farmland. Farmland is like the Common Ground video where agriculture is bringing the discussion to the people. They are creating ethos by showing the world what a day in the life of a farmer is. Farmland does not stick to one type of farming but addresses many different aspects, even those that are often paired against each other. This approach utilizes logos where the film director was more concerned with bringing the information to the public rather than focusing on tackling the debate of factory farms.

    The chipotle ad was interesting because it did not seem to be advertising food on the surface. The ad is basically showing a person speaking her mind despite the man she is talking about sitting right behind her. To me they were trying to illustrate that the food they use is so real you will get lost in the taste of the food and forget everything else around you. One theory of rhetoric that I find in the video is a narrative fidelity. Throughout the video I kept thinking to myself does this fit in with my personal experience. Would I be able to open to a stranger? This doesn’t seem real to me because it’s not something that I would feel comfortable doing. On the other end of the spectrum, it is nice to see a company being upfront and honest about its ingredients. One other theory of rhetoric that I picked up on was a little bit of symbolic convergence theory. The lady starts to talk about someone who isn’t there, which then causes the speaker to get excited and the music to pick up tempo and sound. This energized the group and likely got the audience at home excited to see what would happen next.

    The music is of course at a low volume and slow tempo to highlight the importance of the ever-booming loud voice that comes out of nowhere. This would appear that the burrito is extremely powerful and in charge. Chipotle also adds a touch of pathos as they greet the lady in the beginning by name and bring her into a calm and inviting atmosphere. While I am one of many people who do not support Chipotle anymore, I do find that they bring a laid-back vibe to their advertising which puts people into a generally relaxing emotional state while they watch their video. There are not bright colors to get people overly excited but their approach is effective.

    Conventional agriculture could use the theories above to their advantage by continuing to create positive narratives that fit with people’s experiences. Conventional agriculturists need to continue to open their homes and social media websites to the public so they can see firsthand that what we say we are doing is the whole truth. By creating experiences for people that are away from agriculture, we can highlight our values and stay consistent with our stories.

    Christina P.

    1. Christina,

      Your comments about connecting with the Common Grounds campaign are helpful. I am not a mother so I did not feel I like I could relate to it as well as others might be able to. I think that campaign is successful at connecting on a personal level with a portion of the general public, but not everyone.

      That being said, perhaps we, as agricultural communicators, get a little overzealous and try to reach too many people at a time. Maybe we should be reaching small sectors, like moms, and teaching them first. They might even be able and willing to then help us continue spreading the word.

      I really like your interpretation of Chipotle’s ad! I had not thought about the narrative fidelity aspect of it, but now that you mention it, I can relate to your feelings. You make a very good point about the emotional greeting of the woman at the beginning too.

      Deanna R

    2. Hi, Christina!
      Great perspective on the Common Ground video. I am not a mom myself, so it is interesting to hear your perspective. I thought that it was a strategic move to have farmers who are women and mothers to be the ones answering the questions. Just like you, it seems that most moms have the grocery buying responsibilities in the household. This video using pathos to relate to those parents who have questions about the food they are feeding their families. I do like your suggestion to reach a different audience like college students or single adults, and I wonder what that type of communication effort would look like.
      Thanks for your insight!
      -Hannah A.

  7. Reading about how people throughout history have and continue to figure out effective communication methods as communication technologies change was very interesting. I am fascinated by why people do what they do and how it affects the rest of the world, so this was fun to learn about.

    Classical rhetoric and current communications use credibility and emotional appeals to make a lasting impact on their audiences. In agricultural communications, there are many types of effective communications. Some campaigns, such as this informative soil health public service announcement video for the USDA Natural Resources and Conservation program, use logic and scientific facts to inform the public. Others, like most of PETA’s advertisements, appeal to personal ethics and beliefs. Another commonly used communication method is pathos or an appeal to emotions.

    I would argue that the Common Grounds farm mom campaign uses both ethos and pathos. Not only are moms, either from farm or urban backgrounds, able to identify through similarity, they are connected by emotion as well. Kenneth Burke’s ideas about identification through similarity apply well here. Farm moms and urban moms have one thing in common: the love and care of their children. Common Grounds even alludes to the idea of similarity in its title by using the word “common.”

    I think that this is an effective effort because all humans, to some degree, strive to connect with others. We want to belong and we connect through stories or narrative paradigm. Especially now that images and videos are becoming the most effective way to reach an audience, Walter Fisher’s narrative paradigm ideas are important and useful. We’ve all heard that “a picture is worth a thousand words” more times that we can count, but it is true. Stories, videos, and pictures stick with us. We all remember bedtime stories or fairy tales that were told to us as children. In the same way, agricultural communications uses stories to connect with and appeal to the general public.

    Though these narratives are effective, it is important for agricultural communicators to remember narrative fidelity. Today, “fake news” or skewed and biased information is readily available. It looks and feels real and people believe it. In order to believe a narrative, it must contain values and fit in with the audience’s personal interpretations of reality. This can make it hard to change people’s perceptions of agriculture because many people now do not have personal experiences or connections to farming. I think that the Common Grounds campaign did a good job of taking that fact into account by connecting moms with moms and then adding the agricultural information piece to that relationship.

    Habermas’s Communicative Theory is relevant to agricultural communications as it is a theory about language and strategic communication, which we have established that communicators use frequently, if not almost all the time. Chipotle uses strategic communication very well, as we have seen in recent years. I had not seen the advertisement that was in Dr. Baker’s blog, but I found it intriguing. The first thing I noticed was that it did not mention agriculture at all. There were no images that made the audience think of a farm, a farmer, or agriculture.

    In its advertisement, Chipotle uses logos and also pathos. When the ad started, I was curious about why and how, if I’m going to “be real,” a woman was walking into a burrito. Once she sat down and started talking, I felt annoyed at her for being mean to poor Richard, the pianist. The clip made me think a lot; it solicited emotion. It also sneakily brought ethos into play as well. The line about being real and the implication that Chipotle’s ingredients are “as real as it gets” appeals to ethics. They don’t outright state that real food is more ethical, but it is implied. The use and placement of the word “real” in the ad also depicts logology. The slogan “as real as it gets” is influential to consumers and, though it is just a string of words, means something.

    I think that conventional agriculture can, and does, use these theories to build successful and informative communication. From a critical theory point of view, it could be said that the powerful and dominant people and groups in the world today are affecting views of agriculture. Influential members of society, such as movie and television stars, are known to not be supporters of agriculture and the lowly farmer. On the other hand, though, pictures of celebrities with milk mustaches not only tells us that rich people drink milk too, but it also allows us to connect, in a small way, with a famous person who has credibility in the public’s eyes. Though we may not consciously think about that connection as we’re thumbing through a magazine and find Taylor Swift downing a cold glass of milk, we are influenced by that image.

    I think that agricultural promotions can use the narrative paradigm to connect with the public too. Stories or narratives that are relatable in some way draw and keep the audience’s attention. Conventional agriculture is starting to share stories about “real farm life” but a lot of past efforts have been aimed at rebutting anti-agriculture groups’ strategic communication. Using pathos in a positive way to establish relationships with the public and then using logos and ethos to impart information is a good way for conventional agriculture to teach and connect.

    1. Hi Deanna,
      I enjoyed reading your blog this week and I particularly liked your concept of “all humans striving to connect with others.” I know for me when I am able to connect to something or someone else it makes me much more comfortable to support a specific cause. I am assuming that the same is true for the mothers from this video, it must have reassured them that much more to learn that they were purchasing their products from another mother.
      I have to say that I think the chipotle commercial was going for comic relief, they have comedian Jillian Bell sitting on a couch in an oversized burrito. I also think that this was used to make light of their current situation which is food borne illnesses. Another thing that I noticed from this commercial was the gentle voice saying “be real’, this was ironic to me because it was telling the women sitting inside the chipotle burrito to be real because she was inside the burrito. To me I took this as a symbol that everything inside a chipotle burrito is “as real as it gets.” I hope you enjoy my take on this commercial.
      Thanks for sharing!
      -Leah D.

  8. I think the Common Ground video is an extremely effective method of persuasion to convince the audience (shoppers) to support local farms, it seemed to be exceptionally appealing to the moms shopping to come across some of the farmers who raise their food. I reason that by allowing the customers to get know the farmers it makes it easier for them to make the choice to buy local food; after all people like to support industries they are proud of.
    An example of ethos in agricultural communications is when milk is endorsed by celebrities such as Taylor Swift. An example of pathos in agricultural communications is showing homeless pets in a commercial which causes the audience to feel sympathy with the sad looking animals. I would have to say that pathos is the principle that I see the most in agricultural communications, simply walking into the grocery store people are bombarded with more and more labels on products ranging from steroid and hormone free, to the range of nutritional benefits that are healthier for the consumer. I feel that this speaks to the contemporary rhetorical theory because thinking back to the grocery store scene it includes forms of persuasion through communication that is heard, seen, read, or displayed.

    At first glance when viewing the chipotle commercial it seems as though the directors are going for a comic relief with this video. To me the comedy relief comes from the mere fact that it is centered around a conversation with comedian Jillian Bell who is striking up conversation while sitting in an oversized foil wrapped burrito. Another takeaway for me from this video is the soothing voice that says “to be real.” I perceived this voice telling them to be real because they are “sitting inside a chipotle burrito” which on the inside is a close to “real meat products” as it gets in the fast food chain. We all know that Chipotles brand has been in the hot seat for food borne illnesses which one can expect to have possibly damaged their reputation. I think the idea behind this commercial is to have celebrities advocating for chipotle and the “as real as it gets,” slogan is to encourage people that their food is safe to eat.
    Just as we know people have a negative view on chipotle we can understand that some people in the general public have a negative view on agriculture. I think conventional agriculture can follow the same approach as the chipotle commercial where we portray agriculture in a more positive light to the public. I also think that with any advertising scheme the use of celebrity appearances is extremely beneficial for the public to see A-listers advocating for a cause it gives it a sense of importance in their eyes.
    -Leah D.

  9. I had never seen the “Ask A Farmer” video before, and after watching I think that it would be very effective! It was definitely a strategic move to have farmers who are women or even mothers to be the ones answering the questions. In a majority of American households, women or moms are the ones who make a lot of the purchasing decisions when it comes to groceries and food products. I think that it is immediately easy to relate and the connection feels real as a viewer. I also think it helps to clear the stereotypical male farmer in overalls and a cowboy hat out of the viewer’s mind. This effort makes agriculture seem less technical and scary and more approachable and human. I think this effort is effective for agriculture on many different levels.

    One example comes to mind when reflecting on how agricultural communications has utilized logos, ethos or pathos is the new Bill Nye series on Netflix, Bill Nye Saves the World. Specifically, in one episode titled “More Food, Less Hype”, Bill talks about genetically modified foods with an executive from Monsanto, a professor and a farmer. This is a great example of how ethos can be used to persuade an audience to believe something. I don’t know about my classmates, but my middle school days always started by watching Bill Nye the Science Guy in homeroom. He was someone that I grew up learning from and clearly someone that my teachers trusted to give students information. His scholarly reputation helps viewers trust and associate credibility to the topic at hand, and in this case it was GMO’s.

    Chipotle’s ad used the ethos that the company has built for itself. Because of the strategic narrative that Chipotle consistently uses in their advertisements, they have created a reputation of being “real” and delivering only the best ingredients in their food. Whether or not the company is actually telling a truthful story is beside the point because of the loyal following they have created. They also utilize pathos when communicating about their brand being healthy and trustworthy. Even the brown paper bags that chipotle burritos come in are smothered with inspirational quotes and feel good words. Even though you’re going to eat a 1,000 calorie burrito, they are going to make feel like you’ve made the world a better place by eating there. This company’s communication strategy is both infuriating and very interesting.

    -Hannah A.

  10. I believe the Common Ground video was very effective in its tactics and strategies. When faced with an actual person, who is a mother and a farmer, it is easier to address questions and see the sincerity of the person. I think this was also an effective method in the way it relayed scientific information that can be more difficult to understand. If only this campaign were possible in every grocery store!

    In agricultural communications, there are many methods to how we distribute our information, some that utilize logos, ethos, and pathos. One prime example of a pathos method is the rise of online bloggers. It seems that many men and women similar to the farmers in the Common Ground video are taking it upon themselves to talk about their experiences in agriculture. Although this is a different format than in the grocery store example, I think it is still working toward the same goal. Additionally, I think logos and ethos can sometimes go together in agriculture. If we are not careful, it can sound as though we are preaching our facts through a cold, seemingly un-relatable medium, such as a scientist. I think it is a reliable source to use logos from. However, we must keep in mind, it may not be the best way for many people to learn from. As a discipline, I think we are moving toward a mix of these tools. In the past, it seems as though we were only utilizing facts. Now, I think we are somewhat realizing some things that could be done differently and working toward better methods and really understanding issues rather than just throwing facts at consumers. As for the standard theory evaluation, I think it can be related to Aristotle’s idea that one opinion or probability was as good as another and that people should follow what was the most likely or probably correct position. The key part of that is that we should follow what was most likely or probably correct. I think it’s completely acceptable for there to be dissenting and arguable points in the conversation, but I think we should also keep in mind those who actively participate and have a hand in the process everyday – farmers, ranchers, scientists, etc.

    Within the Chipolte advertisement, I recognized The Symbolic Convergence Theory. Throughout the commercial the term “real” is used many times to get their point across about the situation at hand, I think with hopes that it would correlate with their ingredients. I think it truly works. When we put information simply and in an enjoyable form that others can easily understand and relate to, it works. As agricultural communicators, we could take lessons from these ideas and use them ourselves. I think we are seeing it works for places like Chipolte and slowly starting to incorporate ideas similar to this in our communication. Overall, we have a long way to go, especially since we can be working out of the negative viewpoints of people rather than starting with neutral feelings toward agriculture.

    -Anissa Zagonel

Leave a Reply