Rhetorical Analysis Essay Project
2015 Super Bowl Commercial
By Duncan Hatch
Church of Scientology
Rhetorical Analysis Essay
To open this 2015 Super Bowl commercial for the Church of Scientology, there are crowds of people scurrying by, just to get from place to place. This is where the advertisement is hoping to hook the viewer. Everyone has questions about their existence, like, “Why are we here?” and “What is our purpose?”. The Church of scientology shows that they can show you a path that can help you live a more wholesome lifestyle. On top of the masses of people who are traveling from place to place, there are also individuals who contemplate deeply about life’s questions.
To reach out to a wide variety of viewers, these people are a mix of races, genders, and age groups. If the commercial target audience is people of all walks of life, they can show that they are not just an old fashioned church that is very exclusive. After having many people hurrying from place to place, there are two examples of when technology causes confusion every day. There is the screen scrolling through files and the reflection of an eye showing a screen. Opposed to the rest of the commercial, the background of these scenes is very dark and secluded. This is meant to symbolize that the church thinks this is the wrong way to use technology. They think this is an immoral way to use what we have, and they pair this idea with the problems of being lost in a crowd. These are both problems the church of scientology hopes to solve.
After these scenes of mass confusion and blindness, there is a pile of books and someone observing a digital diagram. This is meant to show that there are people who are interested in finding the truth. The church of Scientology strategically places this scene to show the transition from blindness, to research, to full knowledge. One thing that almost always seems to attract viewers is an image of what they want to be. This is how bodybuilding posters with cliché quotes on them attract people to work out. They propose an image of the ideal person, which in this commercial is the intelligent figure looking into the DNA. This person is very obviously supposed to be an authoritarian figure. This is an example of ethos, even though there is not a celebrity, this authoritarian figure fits the role well.
To show the transition from discovery to the foundation of the church, there are strange new machines. The church uses these machines in their practice, but the average viewer does not know this. They do not show the whole image of the machine, just close up pictures of knobs or handles. This is meant to intrigue viewers by having them ask what the machine is. There is bright lighting at this point in the commercial to show that this is a sacred artifact; one that the church covets. There have been many times in movies where bright light is used to show there is a holy event taking place, such as in Lord of the Rings, when Gandalf the White returns to Middle Earth. There is a blinding light to show his return from slaying the demon. The same type of light is meant to signify a great object in the commercial. The mysterious object that is used by the church is shown being handed down to another person in the commercial. This shows the transparency of the church of Scientology, that they are not secluded and the
fact that they keep all of their greatest secrets in the hands of a few people. In order to show that there is still some mystery that can’t be shown to the general public, there is a bright light that appears to blind the viewer from seeing all of the machine. After these fancy machines are shown in the ad, we see some of the primary beliefs of Scientologists. There is a triangle made out of light that has three points highlighted. These points are affinity, communication, and reality. We are lead to believe that these are core beliefs of the church of Scientology.
After the triangle there is a tablet shown titled, “The Bridge to Total Freedom”. The viewer is led to believe that this tablet has the equivalent meaning to the Church of Scientology as the Ten Commandments have to the Christian church. The camera angle when viewing this tablet is looking from the ground, which implies that this is a very powerful object. Right before the end of this commercial there are two people in an interview. One person is representative of the church, and the other is a convert. The converted follower looks up when she has been welcomed into the church, as if she has found the destination she has been searching for.
The Church of Scientology’s Super Bowl commercial successfully reached out to their target audience. Their aim was to intrigue viewers about their religion, which they did successfully by showing diversity and showing that they have the answer to transcending normal lifestyle and becoming a wholesome person.