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Rhetorical Analysis of Adidas “Break Free” Advertisement


A “Break Free” (2015) advertisement has an original plot and addresses the images of elderly people in a nursing facility. Throughout the video, the main character, an old man who got inspired by a runner whom he saw from the window, is trying to leave the nursing home (“Adidas – Break Free”). He puts on the sneakers and starts to run, but the medical personnel prevent him from leaving the facility and locks up the sneakers. It makes him sad, but finally, other elderly people help the main character get his running shoes and to break free.

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Intended Audience

The main intended audience is senior citizens who might think that in their age, it is difficult to do sports, to dream, and to achieve goals. The advertisement is original in that sense because usually, sportswear companies use the images of young people, who have a lot of opportunities and who are willing to become the best. Sport is usually associated with energy, youth, and competition. However, in this short video, there is nothing about it. On the contrary, there are elderly patients, some of whom are demented and live in the world of fantasies, like a person pouring water on the TV or a woman dancing with her imaginary partner. Thus, it can seem that the video is mostly aimed at elderly people. Nevertheless, it can also be addressed to the young audience because they can also see themselves in the main character. Many young people also feel depressed, do not have any dreams, and do not see any point in life. Looking at the main character of the video, such people can realize that they actually have a lot of opportunities to grow and that there are ways to escape their life situation through productive methods such as sport.

It seems that the commercial does not really address trendy social issues such as feminism and diversity, which often are put in the focus of sportswear commercials. Although the main character is a senior person, his age is not the key issue. The strive for freedom, which is common for all people, is the main concept addressed by the commercial. That is why the intended audience is much wider than just elderly or depressed people. Anyone who wants to break free, to start to live a full life despite the obstacles, is the target audience of this video.


Ethos appeals to the viewer’s values, persuading them that the product and company are credible. The sense of trust is the result of an effective commercial focused on ethos. The “Break Free” video by Adidas succeeded in addressing the audience’s values. Despite the image of an old person, who has lost his sense of life, such value as freedom, common for many people, is in the center of the commercial.


Pathos is related to the audience’s feelings and emotions, and it can be said that this commercial is a very emotional one. Many people are afraid to be left in the nursing home in their senior age. This is the future that anyone would like to escape, and this is exactly the image that we see in the commercial. An old person, forgotten by his relatives, lives a gloomy life with some demented peers. Old age and loss of sanity are enough strong images that are related to people’s hidden fears. However, the main fear is shown in the middle of the video, as the main character cannot escape the nursing facility. When he tries to run to his dream, he is stopped by the personnel, and his personal belongings are locked up. At the end of the video, such an original addressing to the people’s fears is finally replaced by an image of supporting peers who help the main character to get his clothes back and to break free. In this commercial, there are no great sporting achievements, no images of physical strength and competition. On the contrary, the person is physically weak, but the support of other people helps him to gain victory over his fears and to run away. This is a great example of a strong emotional impact on the audience, as the video creates the sense of catharsis and gives people hope.


As for the logos, it addresses people’s logic and is aimed to convince the audience by logical arguments, facts, and evidence. Actually, in this commercial, the accent is put more on the ethos and pathos. However, in the video, there is an idea that anyone can change their lives if they want. Even if an elderly person succeeds in achieving their dreams about running, then a young person is able to do this, too. Besides, there is a message that sport actually helps to escape depression and to discover some new values and goals, to get distracted from the routine.


The “Break Free” video is a great example of an inspiring video with an unpredictable plot. It uses original images that, from the first sight, seem not connected to sport and achievement. However, through a visibly narrow intended audience, the video actually addresses the values that are common for everyone. Ethos and pathos in the video are balanced in a way that the viewer experiences strong and contrasting emotions. Thus, people believe in the company’s values, which makes the advertisement efficient.

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Work Cited

“Adidas—Break Free”. YouTube, uploaded by Eugen Merher, 2015, Web.

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