Tis the Season

In ancient Greece, rhetoric was a crucial skill. Today, it is still used in our everyday life: in the office, in the classroom, and in the home. As the holidays approach, big brands are beginning to rev up their inner rhetorician, persuading consumers to buy their products and to buy into the holiday season. Main stream brands have mastered the art of rhetoric, changing it from a way of speech to a way of images.

Within the past week the “top shelf” department stores in New York City opened their window displays featuring holiday themes, winter traditions, and of course, several of their top products. The stores claim that their holiday window displays are merely “gifts to the city” by sharing their excitement for the holiday season with passer-bys. I beg to differ. Yes, it is a brilliant idea to provide beautiful window displays to spread seasonal cheer. However, it is also a fantastic use of modern day rhetoric, persuading consumers to purchase the products that share the spotlight with the seasonal window displays are the perfect gift for this holiday season.


Tiffany & Co. window display

Senior direct of visual presentation at Bergdorf Goodman says that “every store has their own style.” Stores like Bloomingdale’s, Bergdorf Goodman, Macy’s, Tiffany & Co., and Saks Fifth Avenue to name a few each have their own theme for their window displays. The stores each have a different focus on a holiday tradition while incorporating some of their top products of the season. The displays fashion innovative light displays, eye catching colors, and even live models in some windows. Through this transactional strategy of rhetoric, the stores are able to create a connection between their objects in their window displays and the consumer audience. Without the use of words, the stores are persuading consumers to purchase their products by creating the image of the perfect Christmas morning, holiday dinner party, or snowy sleigh ride.

Big brand names have taken rhetoric, which has thousands of years of history, and created it into something to work with today’s world. Do you think this new form of nonverbal rhetoric is effective?

-Tilson Hackley