In praise of the slogan

A shamless use of Woody Guthrie for no other reason than the photo is excellent and boy is that a slogan
It seems that the classic advertising slogan has fallen deeply out of fashion.

Though I have spent much of my career gleefully watching the brand slogan’s demise, I am not so sure that my callous disdain was entirely appropriate.
This is partly because of my new found interest in aphorisms and the power that they have to compress thinking into elegant and edible phrases purpose built for consumption, repetition, memorability and transmission. Slogans work a bit like that.
And partly because, if I am honest, I actually like them.
I blame post-modern advertising agencies (“let’s make a un-ady ad”), brand consultancies (“lets just describe what they do and in any case we don’t have any good copywriters”) and digital fetishists (“I can’t see a slogan working in Second Life”).
Together they conspired to create a communications landscape of dreary single word lines like True and Real, dreary colloquialisms like ‘Chin up’ and ‘I’m lovin’ it’ and dreary expressions of the bleeding obvious like ‘Carphone Warehouse. For all your mobile life’ and ‘Go. The low cost airline from British Airways’.
Heresy of heresies I’m not even sure about ‘Just do it’ or ‘Every little helps’.
And as for ‘Try something new everyday’ – great strategy but was the copywriter taking a sickie that day?
I want to fly the flag for the humble slogan.
At best these were never just ad ideas but big brand building thoughts like ‘A Mars a day helps you work, rest and play’.
Yes they use alliteration (the repetition of consonant sounds), yes they use assonance (the repetition of vowel sounds), yes they use rhyme (the repetition of ending sounds) and yes they use puns (the use of words that have two or more meanings). And what is so wrong with that?
These approaches, documented in more detail in Greg Myers’ Words in Ads gave us gems like:
Top people take the Times
Gillette, the best a man can get
No ring goes like a ringo goes
That’ll be the Daewoo
Beanz Meanz Heinz
Chuck out your chinz
You know when you’ve been Tango’ed
I predict the renaissance of the slogan.
I expect your contributions to my slogan compendium.
Here is a little tool I found on Pink Air to aid your sloganeering

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16 Replies to “In praise of the slogan”

  1. I totally agree – slogans are the perfect way to fill that three second attention window and having worked in the film and video businesses, I’ve never understood why the slogan has been supplanted by meaningless review quotes. After all
    In Space Noone Can Hear You Scream.

  2. Hurray for the slogan! But this from a gal who would love nothing more than for the return of the jingle and, yes it’s true, the pun.
    Fill it to the rim, with Brim!

  3. The other day I saw the old Country Life slogan (You’ll never put a better bit of butter on your knife) and it reminded me that slogans really can work if they are good enough.
    Bad slogans are forgotten but good slogans can make an entire brand.

  4. Ohh just toy with that little beauty.
    bit of (pronounced bit a)
    It has rhyme, alliteration and assonance.
    Now here is one I totally forgot – lets hear it for unexpected spelling.
    We all adora, Kia Ora
    Rhyme and assonance from the ‘a’ sounds
    I suspect it is not mandatory that the brand is in the line – but boy does it help.
    Anyone remember ‘Good coffee takes a Melitta bit longer’?

  5. What about the ‘Slogan as Song?’
    ‘Oranjeboom, Orangeboom, It’s a Lager not a Tune.’
    beats even pun-o-rama Guinness:
    See what one or toucan do.
    Infact, why drinks brands get all the best tricks…
    Les français adore
    Le Piat d’Or.
    People seem to love (and remember) a witty line put to a tune… people sang ‘Go, Go, Go, Go’ as the waited in line to board the plane… and tht was a pretty poor song.
    Pentiums ‘Audia brand signature’ drove/drives people mad as it’s so invasive.
    It would appear that wedding a cracking slogan to a natty melody is the golden fleece of advertising recall.

  6. I used to love the Ariston and on and on stuff.
    We all Adora Kia Ora was a song also :)
    And of course the legendary 4 note “For Mash get Smash”…

  7. The lion took the passionfruit
    The Marmoset the mandarin
    Something something something
    and the whole caboodle landed in
    so when it comes to sun and fun and goodness in the jungle
    they all prefer the sunny funny one they call um bongo…
    I worry about my childhood sometimes ;)

  8. 1. Tetly make tea bags, make tea.
    2. Finger licking good
    3. It’s a bit of an animal.
    My favourite ad as a kid was:
    “I’m a scret lemonade drinker,
    I’ve been trying to keep it quiet,
    But it’s been one of those nights”
    And I still love:
    “I liked it so much I bought the company”

  9. Ok I have to do it:
    Woman 1: Only half a cup, don’t you like my coffee?
    Woman 2: I love the rich taste, it’s the caffeine I could do without”
    Woman 1: Well, you happen to be drinking Brim decaffeinated coffee.
    Woman 2: This is Brim?!
    Woman 1: This is Brim. And it’s decaffeinated, so you don’t have to stop at half a cup.
    Woman 2: Well, if it tastes this rich, I don’t want to stop. Fill it to rim!
    Woman 1: With Brim?
    Both: Ha ha ha ha ha ha

  10. Oh why not. . .fun post. . .
    “If you want a lot of chocolate on your biscuit, join our club”
    “Every one´s a fruit and nut case”
    “The Economist: We pick on politicians left right and center”
    “. . . . Priceless”
    Slogans are like all content really:
    10% Great
    20% OK
    70% Immediately forgetable

  11. Richard – what about the pay-off?
    “UmBongo, UmBongo, They drink it up the Congo” (slogan as demonstrable untruth, but we rocked along with it)
    “The Independent. It is. Are you?”
    “Heineken refreshes the parts other lagers cannot reach”

  12. Yes to the slogan.
    Actually, having spent several years trying to persuade Sainsbury’s to drop “Making life Taste Better” I should say “Yes to the great slogan.” What these postings show is that the great slogans are memorable, which has got to be a good thing, and most encapsulate the brand idea. Like a tiny Trojan Horse in the brain, that you willingly let in and then can’t get rid of. Well, OK, only a bit like a Trojan Horse, then. All together now; “I’d risk it for a Swisskit”

  13. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury: ‘For mash get smash’. Case dismissed.
    I’d like to sponsor the return of real jingles…
    Frank Muir singing ‘everyone’s a fruit and nut case’ is forever stuck in my psyche.
    Mind you so is ‘Do the shake n vac and put the freshness back’ – I’d like to meet that writer in a dark alley one night.

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