From New York to Georgia, letters were exchanged between Ira C. Herbert, representing Coca-Cola, and Richard W. Seaver, representing Grove Press. The slogan, ???It??™s the real thing???, was being used by the two companies in 1969-1970 for advertisement of their products to the public. Herbert was the first to write, asking Seaver to discontinue his usage of this slogan. He made several true and influential statements in hope that Seaver would concede and begin using another slogan. In Seaver??™s reply, he held firm to his position and refused to surrender. Both men made use of rhetorical themes; however, one man was much more successful in utilizing these themes.
The element that is dealt with when making the connection between speaker and subject is logos. Logos includes appeal to reason, support, and dealing with a counterargument. Herbert appeals to logos when he says ?????™It??™s the real thing??™ was first used in advertising for Coca-Cola over twenty-seven years ago to refer to our product.??? He uses facts to support and strengthen his argument, attempting to convey that his company has priority. Herbert uses the same approach, almost repeating himself in greater detail, in lines nineteen through twenty-three. The finest example of appeal to logos, however, is in Seaver??™s letter when he concedes sarcastically, and continues to disassemble Herbert??™s argument further with a refutation. Seaver says, ?????¦I can fully understand that the public might be confused by our use of the expression, and mistake a book by a Harlem schoolteacher for a six-pack of Coca-Cola.??? This bizarre remark is a clear use of sarcasm and makes Herbert look ridiculous. The refutation that follows in lines thirty through thirty-two states that Seaver does not plan on ceasing usage of the slogan ???It??™s the real thing.??? They stick up for their First Amendment rights and ???will defend to the death your right to use ??™It??™s the real thing??™ in any advertisement you care to??? (???you??? referring to Coca-Cola). When it comes to appeal to logos, Seaver seems to come out ahead.
Appeal to pathos, however, could have a different turnout. Pathos is a theme dealt with when the subject is presented to the audience. This involves emotion in great deal, along with tone in some situations. Herbert takes the course of attempting to win over his audience by charming and being overly kind to Seaver. Herbert comments on the success of Grove Press in line eleven when he calls them a ???prominent??? company. Herbert also attempts to flatter his audience in lines twenty-three through twenty-five when he conveys concern about taking Seaver??™s time. The last two lines are an attempt by Herbert to bully Seaver into thinking he has no chance of holding onto his usage of the slogan. He writes that Coca-Cola ???appreciate[s] your cooperation and you assurance that you will discontinue the use of ???It??™s the real thing.??™??? Still tightly gripping his First Amendment rights, however, is Seaver. He makes his case stronger with his extreme use of sarcasm. Seaver??™s sarcastic tone all throughout his letter tears apart his opponent??™s argument and shows how ridiculous the suggestion was in the first place. For example, in lines fourteen through sixteen, Seaver uses the other side of the proposed situation to explain how with negative association comes the positive. Seeing how ridiculous the positive association sounds shows that the negative is just as absurd.
Positive association is exactly what a speaker tries to establish when making use of ethos. To successfully apply ethos in rhetoric, the speaker must communicate credibility, reputation, and image to his audience. Herbert spends his entire fourth paragraph on proving his credibility and reputation by using many facts and showing Coca-Cola??™s success with examples. He also attempts to identify with the audience in his third paragraph (lines eight through thirteen) by trying to convince Seaver that it may harm Grove Press??™s business by being associated with Coca-Cola. He says, ???There will always be likelihood of confusion as to the source or sponsorship of the goods…??? which is quite a stretch. What he is really saying is that association with Grove Press is not welcome at the Coca-Cola Company. The image of both letters is set up to be very professional, which creates credibility as well. In Seaver??™s letter, he shows examples of companies that have published titles similar to books Grove Press has printed. Yet, Grove Press didn??™t complain about that. This establishes credibility because it makes their company seem confident in their products. Through his sarcasm, Seaver yet again shows that he is confident and will not give in. It seems as though, despite Seaver??™s attempts, Herbert??™s use of ethos is superior.
Use of all three elements of rhetoric makes both letters convincing. A perfect mixture of the three elements and their components, however, make Seaver??™s letter more persuasive. Rhetoric is a tricky element to master, and it is possible that it has never been done; however, some have come close. Seaver is straight to the point about what he wants. When it comes to utilizing rhetoric, Herbert does not out-perform Seaver; one man had to surpass the other. Coca-Cola might just have to be eternally connected with Grove Press after all.