Sample Rhetorical Analysis


Bad News Letter:


            Rationale for the Letter type:


Ø     Considered writing the “sales letter” to Pepsi but thought it would be more realistic that we were consumers of their products.

Ø     Pepsi most likely would not be a client of Doc Rock International Nuclear Weapons Division.

Ø     Constructed a “bad news” letter, this situation—product quality (or un-quality)--while humorous, would need to be addressed.


Main Strategies:


Ø     The representation of numbers in the letter

o       I use numbers twice, in two different ways

o       In the 1st paragraph, I cite that my business orders “20,000 cases” of Pepsi.  I used the digits because I feel such a large sum or products looks more impressive when numbers are used.  The number stands out from the other words in the paragraph, and is more noticeable to the reader.

o       At the end of the 2nd paragraph, I use a different approach when citing the amount of compensation my business requires.  I use words instead of digits to say “ten million dollars” to de-emphasize the cost.  I have successfully delayed or buffered the shock the grandiose amount.


Ø     The delay of the major bad news

o       It is placed at the end of the 2nd paragraph.

o       If I were to demand the ten million at the beginning of the document, a very hostile tone would be established.

o       I wanted the reader to be on my side as long as possible, so I said complimentary things about the company and our interaction in terms of worth.

o       Only after I establish how much business my company is worth to Pepsi, and described my problems with the product, do I bring in the news of monetary compensation.  The delay swings Pepsi more onto my side.


  Ø     The constant re-affirmation of the product/business

o       I use many phrases to position my admiration for Pepsi’s products: I am an “avid drinker,” the product is “refreshing,” the employees are “revitalized.”

o       By using these terms, I show my respect for the product and company and position myself as a supporter of the product.

o       This is important to do early since the letter takes a serious turn.

o       After I mention the specific problems with the product, I attempt to decrease the repulsiveness of the situation by stating, “unless there is a new contest we are not aware of.”  This phrase adds levity to an otherwise awkward situation and tries to keep the level of frustration and animosity of the reader to a minimum.  The humor shows the situation is deplorable, not Pepsi.


 Back to Assignment #5 Main Page