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

6 thoughts on “Tis the Season

  1. I completely believe that this new form of un-written/non-verbal rhetoric is effective in terms of larger brand names. Everyone knows what is inside the “little blue box”. The symbol for Tiffany’s is integrated through pop culture and Tiffany’s is at the point where they don’t even need to have words to advertise their products. In addition to including lights, models, and other techniques, these products are sure to sell out in the Christmas season. Same goes for Nike. Everyone knows what the “check” means and advertising Nike without words is definitely probable and possible.

    – Rachel

  2. Susan Willetts
    I believe having the Christmas displays in store windows are a good way to make your customers happy, while advertising your brand. I remember my dad taking us downtown at Christmas to see the Belk window displays every year. It was a happy time for me and my family, while getting us to the store to shop. I also see it as a way that retailers can give back to the community and offer Christmas cheer.

  3. Advertising is all around us, even when we don’t realize it. A lot of people see the displays in store windows around Christmas time and think they are just being festive. The more elaborate the window displays are, the more people that may just be passing by, will want to go inside. Now that the customer is actually in the store, they are more likely to purchase something. Even though these window displays are nonverbal and not advertising in an obvious way, they are still driving sales.

  4. It is definitely effective! Sometimes in Wilmington we have live models in the windows of local shops, and being able to see the items on someone, or displayed in a case that you can see in person and not on a television or ad, makes it more personal. It is as if you are targeting them at that particular moment. And honestly, I rather see an advertisement in that form than have someone talk my ear off about their products anyway!

  5. I think in today’s world, nonverbal rhetoric is a genius way to capture attention and persuade your audience to perform certain actions. Consumers do not always read everything or pay close attention to what you are saying, so you have to capture their attention in other ways. Our society is very visual, and by painting a picture of the perfect holiday scene, stores are drawing in the attention of the audience and persuading them that their products will help make the holiday season magical.

  6. Nonverbal rhetoric is a unique and effective way to gain customer attention to your product. The more creative and eye-catching the display is, the more likely it is to work, especially during the holidays. I know I have purchased products because I saw them in a display when I was wandering around the mall or downtown. Using nonverbal rhetoric during the holidays is tremendously effective just because the majority of shoppers, including me, do not always know what they want to buy for a family member or friend. By displaying items, it gives the consumer a concrete visual and helps show that this item can be worn, used, etc… and actually look good on and ultimately, increase sales.

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