• Kalle Noble

Persuasion Analysis: 4Ocean Advertisement

Analyzing the persuasion techniques used in 4Ocean's advertisement.

Every product’s purpose is to provide a remedy for people’s needs and every modern advertisement finds a way to market the product to cover at least one need. When creating an advertisement it’s very important to give the appearance of credibility to receivers of the message through a number different ways including concise evidence. 4Ocean’s bracelet advertisement shows the greater importance of credibility and use of effective evidence when using their target audience’s higher-order need for self-actualization as a marketing mechanism. Using this strategy they effectively persuade the target audience to support their cause by purchasing their bracelets. In order to take apart 4Ocean’s message it’s vital to determine who the receivers are meant to be.

Of course every brand or company would love it if every single person in the world was equally interested in their product, but this unfortunately is not the case. In order to effectively use their marketing budget companies must research what niches of the market would be most likely interested in their product. According to lecture, this group of people is referred to as the target audience which is made up of demographics and psychographics (Mullin, 2019, November 20). A lot about a company’s target audience can be observed from the sources of their message. Their advertisement is based around the idea that if the consumer bought 4Ocean’s bracelet, then the consumer would have done their part in cleaning up the ocean so it helps if they depict people similar to the target audience so that the viewers can picture themselves doing the clean up. 4Ocean appears to be marketing towards the younger side of the spectrum as they only feature young adults in their advertisement. This could include parents of young adults, but most-likely the average age of their target audience is twenty-something year olds. Both genders are equally featured throughout the advertisement and the product itself appears to be gender neutral which gives the appearance that 4Ocean is not targeting a specific gender with the advertisement. They even took the extra effort to feature exactly the same amount of women and men in their final scene. It appears as thought the advertisement is only for people who live in the united states, since there is no set of diverse cultures within the ad and each speaking voice has an American accent. 4Ocean appears to be marketing towards middle class people with an education, they assume in the advertisement that the viewer is already aware of environmental issues in the ocean and go straight to what they can do to fix the issue. Psychographics are the attitudes and interests of the target audience. This advertisement targets people who care about the ocean, but are unable or unwilling to do the ocean cleanup themselves. In this way it markets towards a sense of accomplishment.

The main tactic that 4Ocean uses in their advertisement is appealing to people’s higher-needs. According to lecture, this concept is based around Maslow’s hierarchy of needs which uses a pyramid structure to explain people’s most basic and necessary needs all the way to complex and less physical needs (Mullin, 2019, November 20). The advertisement itself focuses on the upper half of Maslow’s pyramid, this includes love and belonging, self-esteem, and self-actualization. The advertisement focuses on love and belonging by showing a sense of unity that the consumer can get if they purchase the product. They can be part of a team who is working to together to clear the ocean of trash. Everyone is depicted with other people working together using teamwork and showing that it is a group effort that cannot be achieved alone. This culminates with everyone standing together on the beach showing their bracelets, in the same stance, and wearing similar clothing. The advertisement appeals to self-esteem by relating purchasing a bracelet to a sense of accomplishment. The first words in the ad are “How can a single bracelet clean the ocean?” This would be very persuasive for the target audience that is aware of environmental issues in the ocean and wishes to do something to help with the issue. If the consumer purchases their bracelet they will be part of this accomplishment. Similarly, self-actualization achieving a sense of purpose, finding your potential, and gaining acceptance among a group. It is the pinnacle of the pyramid. 4Ocean wants to sell this feeling for twenty dollars. Without use of this tactic the target audience would be emotionally persuaded to buy a bracelet, there would be no reason besides the bracelet itself. To persuade the consumer to believe this they put inspirational music in the background that slowly builds up throughout the ad. The symbol that they portray at the end is reminiscent of the raised fist, which is a symbol of revolution and standing up together. The hope is that if enough people do their part, then the world can have a clean ocean again. To see how this is done in-depth there would need to be more extensive research.

A study called “An Analysis of Need-Appeals in Television Advertising” by James U. McNeal and Stephen W. McDaniel (1984) sought to explore the use of need appeals in advertising deeper since there had been little published research done beforehand. The article focuses on figuring out which need-appeals are used in advertising, which one is used the most, and whether certain appeals are product specific. It defines a need as "requirement for optimal life conditions.” Eleven researchers analyzed all television advertisements from seven in the morning to midnight for three months. They found that the need for affiliation was the most commonly used need in advertising with sentience, infavoidance, achievement, and harmavoidance close behind. There was an average of four need appeals per advertisement with no advertisement containing less than two, but there was no relationship between use of appeals and the type of product. The study suggests that sense of achievement and affiliation which were both used in 4Ocean’s advertisement are very common tactics in advertising. If they’re so common, then the higher needs must be effective.

Credibility is another feature that is being tested within 4Ocean’s advertisement. If the company isn’t credible, then people wouldn’t trust it enough to clean the ocean for the bracelets that they are selling. There are two different types of credibility, extrinsic which is prior credibility and intrinsic which is demonstrated during a presentation, both of these are made up of expertise and trustworthiness (Tubbs, S. L., 2013). Establishing intrinsic credibility has a lot to do with delivery. 4Ocean’s advertisement starts with a question to explain how the company works and what the consumer can do to help. Each source in the ad speaks with enthusiasm, emphasizing certain words like “two million” when describing how many pounds of trash they have removed from the ocean or the word “single” when describing how many bracelets the consumer needs to purchase. The main woman speaking throughout the commercial also exudes good posture and maintains eye contact with the camera to evoke trustworthiness instead of fidgeting and being unable to maintain eye contact. If the delivery seems natural, then it will show confidence and confidence is one of the main qualities of a credible source. To establish common group with their target audience they show that they care about the ocean and show that they are willing to clean it, to do something to make a change. They hope the consumer will show they apart of their group by wearing the bracelet themselves. Metaphors also enhance credibility by showing intelligence which is why 4Ocean’s slogan at the end of the commercial is “Pull your pound today” instead of “Buy now.” They also say to do it today and provide a link because credibility has a fleeting effect. Meaning it’s most effective immediately after the ad when it’s fresh in the audience’s head. Organization is also effective with establishing credibility which is why the advertisement’s imagery has a beginning, middle, and end for the process of their ocean cleanup with it first set in the ocean, then on the beach, and the trash eventually ending up a 4Ocean facility and then in a bracelet. Showing video evidence of the process also allows the target audience to trust that the process is true to what 4Ocean is saying.

The study called “Perceived Source Credibility and Advertising Persuasiveness: An Investigation of Moderators and Psychological Processes” by Xiaoli Nan (2013) tried to find the relationship between human’s need to evaluate concepts and effectiveness of credibility to persuade while also studying how credibility works on the psychological processing of persuasion. To do this experiment 363 undergraduate students were shown an ad for GMOs, half were told the sponsor before being shown the ad and half were told who the sponsor was after the ad, they then filled out a questionnaire. The participants attitudes towards GMOs were then taken. The study found that people who had lower needs to evaluate were greater persuaded by credibility when show the sponsor of the ad beforehand and that the people who had a greater need to evaluate were unaffected by the order and less susceptible to credibility, but still positively affected. It further found that indirect effects of credibility were stronger on those who had less need to evaluate and the direct effect of credibility were stronger on those who had more need to evaluate. The study shows that credibility has a very significant effect on different types of people no matter how they internally process things. 4Ocean consistently shows us how they are directly involved in the advertisement throughout the entire runtime through logos being on every fabric shown on screen. This enhances the probability that they will be remembered since memory is one of the key factors of credibility.

Effective use of evidence is another factor that directly alters credibility. Evidence can be in the form of examples, statistics, quotations, analogies (Tubbs, S. L., 2013). There’s a huge difference between describing simple facts and giving more personal experiences as examples, either way describing them with vivid detail is always more effective. 4Ocean states that the only way that it can continue ocean clean up is through the continuation of bracelet purchases. This directly involves the viewer and provides the information of what they need to do. 4Ocean then equates one bracelet to one pound of trash and informs the viewer that they have removed two million pounds of trash from the ocean. Which means prior to their advertisement they must have sold two million bracelets. They also show evidence through visual aids. They depict messy, trash filled oceans to further show the point that the ocean needs to be cleaned. They effectively show more evidence by demonstrating how professional they are at removing large quantities of trash from the ocean at a time. Demonstrating evidence of their accomplishments is especially effective for a more educated skeptical audience.

In 4Ocean’s bracelet advertisement they effectively used the higher need for self-actualization and affiliation to persuade educated American young adults who are environmentally conscious to support their cause. Without the use of evidence they would be unable to convey expertise on the topic. This makes it so evidence directly effects credibility. Without trustworthiness the audience wouldn’t believe that supporting the cause would help their desire for self-actualization. Through this all three topics are interwoven and equally depend on each other.


Mcneal, J. U., & Mcdaniel, S. W. (1984). An Analysis of Need-Appeals in Television Advertising. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 12(2), 176–190. doi: 10.1177/009207038401200205

Mullin, D. (2019, November 20). Public Communication and Persausion. Class lecture for Communication 1, Department of Communication, University of California, Santa Barbara

Nan, X. (2013). Perceived Source Credibility and Advertising Persuasiveness: An Investigation of Moderators and Psychological Processes. Journal of Current Issues & Research in Advertising, 34(2), 195–211. doi: 10.1080/10641734.2013.787579

Tubbs, S. L. (2013). Chapter 13: Public communication. In Human communication: Principles and contexts (13th ed.). Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill.