Letters of complaint

Have you ever wanted to write a letter of complaint? You are not the first one to complain about a product, experience or message. Letters of complaint are perfect ways of showing creative responses to controversial texts in the language and literature class.

  1. Study the advertisement below by American Apparel. Why might someone find it offensive? What would you include in a letter of complaint to American Apparel. 

  2. What are the structural features of a letter of complain? What kind of features are common among them? Compare the defining features below to your responses to the previous questions. 

    Feature Example
    Address: Include your address, followed by the address of the organisation that you are writing to. Melissa Davenport
    123 Sunrise Dr.
    Phoenix, Arizona

    American Apparel
    456 Sunset Rd.
    Los Angeles, California 
    Date and greeting: It is important to start date your letter (if you are not writing an email) and start with 'Dear X'. It is effective to write to a specific department or person.     19 June 2014

    Dear American Apparel, 
    Direct opening: Start immediately by stating why you're writing. It's fine be very explicit. State your point.  I'm writing to express my concern about your recent advertisement featuring Lauren Phoenix, which I find inappropriate and disturbing. 
    Concise argument:
    Letters of complaint are not long. It's important to be concise. Why are you complaining? What evidence do you have? Why is this evidence disturbing or upsetting? 
    I fear that women who view this ad will think that they must look young, skinny and sexually available in order to be fashionable and attractive. By stating her weight (“150lbs of magic”), claiming she is famous and literally showing her sexually aroused, you create an unrealistic definition of ‘beauty’. 
    Call to action: So what? What would you like the company to do in response to your letter?  

    I kindly ask, for the sake of young American women, that you pull this ad from all media.  

    Salutation and signature:
    Keep your salutation business-like, with 'Kind regards' or 'Sincerely'. 

    Kind regards, 

    Melissa Davenport

  3. Do an online search to see what others have said about American Apparel's advertisements, specifically this one featuring Lauren Phoenix. To what degree does the example letter cover other people's complaints? Are you interested in exploring American Apparel ads further?

Studying a controversial series of advertisements as a body of work (BOW) may provide insight into a global issue for your individual oral. Writing a short letter of complaint in preparation for your IO is a good way to articulate an argument that you want to make about the BOW.

Last modified: Friday, 16 October 2020, 7:51 PM