Would Aristotle Approve of Digital Marketing?
When discussing digital marketing, Greek philosophy doesn’t really ring a bell most of the time – or really, any of the time. But, if Aristotle were around today, would he have developed a new theory of persuasion other than his famous ‘ethos, pathos and logos’? Or would he have stuck by his word and watched it transform into digital marketing?
“Of the modes of persuasion furnished by the spoken word there are three kinds. The first kind depends on the personal character of the speaker; the second on putting the audience into a certain frame of mind; the third on the proof, provided by the words of the speech itself.” – Aristotle
Before we dwell into questions, we’ll give you a quick refresher on Aristotle’s 3 golden rules for persuasion;
1. Ethos – credibility, morale, personality.
Before persuading someone, the audience has to believe that you are a credible source of information and that they can trust you. Whether or not your audience finds you likeable, hip or professional is the ethos. It’s your brand’s personality and how you’re identified by your customer base.
2. Pathos – emotions and feelings.
Some brands appeal to the emotion. In their ads, they make the consumer feel like they have a stake in the matter. Makeup brands or skin care brands can appeal to this. For example, they can address clear skin, which can be personal to the audience – and appeals to their emotion. It appeals to intelligence, virtue and morals.
3. Logos – facts, facts, facts, facts…
This persuasion method uses logic and evidence to support a claim. For toothpaste brands, they can say, ‘4/5 dentists recommend this brand’. By using numbers, cases studies, and facts, you can appeal to a consumer base effectively – with the power of logic!
Is Digital Marketing a 2000’s Thing?
Many believe that digital marketing is a new phenomenon, and it makes sense that it is – but marketing has existed long before the internet and binary numbers. Though the internet may be relatively new, the methods of persuasion have remained the same since the Greek-ruled philosophy. Many new different methods of persuasion come to exist, of course, and many more have evolved, but Aristotle’s 3 methods of persuasion have consistently remained.
So, if the question is whether Aristotle would ‘approve’ of digital marketing, we first must question whether he would approve of marketing. Known to be one of the leaders of rhetoric, Aristotle is the Greek philosopher whose ideas shaped history.
He also wrote a book on rhetoric and named it ‘Rhetoric’. Simple man.
To Aristotle, rhetoric is the “faculty of discovering in the particular case all the available means of persuasion.” So, yes, he very much agrees with marketing.
Back in the day, when democracy was on the tongue of every Greek citizen, it was sufficient to give speeches and write. These were the mediums of communication. However, now, during the digital age, we have many more methods at our fingertips. Yet, we continue using Aristotle’s 3-step system – for persuasion.
Aristotle mastered public speaking, and in order to do that, it is crucial to understand one’s audience. Therefore, during the digital age, brands must understand their consumers, and market accordingly.
Though this may seem like 101 marketing, we can think that digital marketing is just a new thing that our generation is curating. While much of this may be true, digital marketing remains another medium of marketing. Effective as it is, it is humbling to remember that when we post online as a brand, we are expressing our ethos, and while we can appeal to the emotional or the logical, our approach still lies in a very old marketing philosophy (that works)!