Types of Propaganda & Evidence Claims

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Advertising agents use careful propaganda to sell their products.
Advertising agents use careful propaganda to sell their products. (Image: Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Propaganda covers the large number of techniques used to motivate people to take a specific action, often including the purchase of an item. The use of evidence claims in propaganda allows marketers to suggest truth about an item that may or may not be true. Their techniques include the use of facts and figures, suggesting of secret ingredients, presentation of hidden fears or the use of broad generalizations.

Facts and Figures

Facts and figures establish a sense of trust between propaganda and audiences. Unfortunately, people can manipulate facts to present a false truth to audiences. First, propaganda can use true facts to present a fast truth, such as the statement “Eight out of ten mothers prefer this cold medicine.” This could suggest that the medicine is the best -- or it could suggest that it's less expensive than others. Additionally, facts presented without documentation fail to provide you with a foundation for the information, such as in the cold medicine example where the ad fails to explain how the 80 percent figure was reached.

Secret Ingredients

The suggestion that an item uses a secret or magical ingredient, or was created through an undisclosed and private method, is an alluring propaganda. Marketers often use this technique in hard-sell television ads. Alternately, they may suggest that an item is the result of a revolutionary new scientific advancement. These statements suggest that an item is capable of performing some task that is superior to other, similar products.

Hidden Fears

Propaganda uses hidden fears by advertising solutions to those fears. The two techniques for using this form of propaganda involve suggesting that one approach is better at confronting a fear than others, or by creating a fear that otherwise did not exist. An example of the first would be a label on a daily vitamin that suggested that using this vitamin helps make the user’s skin healthier. Marketers may know that their vitamin is not different than others, but the label makes it more alluring. An example of the second is a label on a cereal box that suggests the cereal doesn't contain cat hair. Marketers know that it is an irrational fear, but the existence of that label on one box and not on others could suggest that other cereals may contain cat hair.

Bandwagon

Bandwagon propaganda suggests that a desired action coincides with the actions of numerous people. Essentially, bandwagon propaganda suggests that “everyone else is doing it, so you should, too.” Bandwagon propaganda uses generalizations as evidence, suggesting that everyone is participating without using specific statistics to prove the excessive use. Alternately, bandwagon propaganda may use leading or suggestive statistics rather than specific statistics -- such as using a large number that makes you feel like everyone is using it. For instance, a cellphone company may state that it has a community with millions of happy users, without qualifying how many millions.

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