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GRE Argument Essay: Advertising With Cable Communications - With A Free Essay Review

‘"Advertising with Cable Communications corp. is a great way to increase your profits. Recently, the Adams Car Dealership began advertising with Cable Communications and over the last 30 days, sales are up 15% over the previous month. Let us increase your profits, just as we did for Adams Cars!" Write a response that examines this argument's unstated assumptions. Make sure you explain how this argument depends on those assumptions and what the implications are if the assumptions are wrong.’

The given argument claims that Cable Communications Corp., an advertising company can increase one's profits. The argument, however, depends on some assumptions and falls apart once these are proved to be wrong.

In the argument, Cable Communications Corp states that ACD recently began advertising with them, and soon their profits increased. However, they have not mentioned the duration for which ACD has partnered with CCC. It could have been as short as a month or two, or six months, or as long as a year. It is assumed that the period was very short. But, "recently" can be a very relative term and can be interpreted in different ways. Thus, if they have been advertising with CCC for a year, then it is not very remarkable that profits have increased.

The argument claims that over the past month, sales have increased by 15% over the previous month. Although it is assumed that it is a substantial amount, without knowing the actual amount of sales for the previous month, it is not possible to judge whether this was actually a large profit. For example, if the company had sold 10 cars in the previous month, a 15% increase would imply a sale of only 1 more car than the previous month, which cannot be considered a sufficient amount of profit.

Also, CCC alleges that it can increase the reader's profits similar to that of ACD. The unstated assumption implies that all factors for all companies are the same. However, the sales of each company depend on various criteria which may not necessarily respond favourably to the same tactics used to increase profits. If this is considered, it may happen that the methods employed by CCC for ACD may not work for XYZ company and may even result in them incurring losses.

Another underlying assumption is that the sales of ACD have increased only due to the advertising by CCC. There could also have been various alternative reasons for the increase in the sales such as a favourable period of the year, cheaper car loan rates etc. ACD may also have reduced their car prices substantially which might have led to more customers being able to afford, and thus purchase, new cars. Thus, if we consider this, it shows that CCC may not be responsible for the increase in the sales of ACD at all.

In conclusion, the given argument relies heavily on a number of unstated assumptions, without which, the argument falls apart.


Essay Review

Your essay gets stronger as it goes along; I will focus here on the problems in the first half of the essay.

The prompt here obviously does not ask you to prove whether the assumptions are wrong, which would be impossible. It makes sense to ask what the implications for the argument would be if the assumptions were proved wrong. It doesn't make sense to answer that the argument "falls apart once these [assumptions] are proved wrong," since you cannot prove the assumptions wrong in a meaningful way, but rather only that they exist.

In your second paragraph, you note that the advertisement does not mention how long the auto dealership has been advertising. This argument would be relevant if you were undertaking a general critique of the advertisement, but you are being asked specifically to discuss the argument’s assumptions. There is no assumption in the argument concerning how long the named company has been advertising; there is merely a vague statement. It is not strictly true to say "it is assumed that the period was very short." It is not even clear here who or what you think is doing the assuming. In short, your first argument is perhaps true, but is not to the point.

You use the same expression ("it is assumed") in your next paragraph, and it is just as problematic there. When you are asked to discuss assumptions, you need to specify the way in which an argument depends on the assumptions you identify. Saying that "it is assumed that [a 15% increase in sales] is a substantial amount" does not explain how the alleged assumption is an assumption. Moreover, the idea that a 15% increase in sales is a significant increase is really not an assumption but an implication of the argument.

Here's an example of an actual assumption:

The Cable company notes that the auto dealership increased sales by 15%. It then claims to have increased profits for Adams Cars. It therefore assumes that the 15% increase in sales led to an increase in profits. Note that we don't know whether this assumption is true. We cannot know whether in this specific case the stated increase in sales led to an increase in profits. Certainly there are often cases when an increase in sales, generated by price reductions and advertising, leads instead to a decrease in profits. The prompt asks us to explain what the implications for the argument are in the case that the assumption is false. Obviously, in that case, the argument is weakened. In an essay, you would need to state that it would be weakened, and explain why.

Finally, let me recommend that in preparing for the GRE test, you use actual GRE prompts, which ETS, which administers the GRE, has published online.*

Best, EJ.

*Gre Issue Prompts:

Gre Argument Prompts:
Submitted by: Anuja

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