Aphorism toolkit

"You can lead a horticulture but you can't make her think" Dorothy Parker

I think aphorisms rock and make any strategy, presentation, brief, conversation go with a swing. So here is a little aphorism tool kit.

I find it handy to carry around in my head a clutch of sayings, quotes and famous phrases that can be repurposed willy nilly as neat aphorisms for any occasion.

Its not the most original way to create a good aphorism but it was good enough for Dorothy Parker so its good enough for me. Here are a handful of the most useful

1) "All animals are equal but some are more equal than others" (Orwell) - Handy if you want to elevate one brand in the portfolio, one strategy under discussion or one channel in the media plan.

2) "Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime" (Blair) - Tough on churn, tough on the causes of churn is particularly good for Sky. Your brand will have its own issues you need to come down hard on.

3) "Education, education, education" (Blair) - Good if you want to highlight just how important something is to the cause. Best if the words concerned end in 'tion' like facilitation or rotation or perhaps irritation.

4) "Its the ecomnomy stupid" (Clinton) - same as above. I once wrote a proposition using this base for Tango aimed at getting the brand focused back on what had made them famous.'Its the Oranges stupid' worked a treat.

5) "There's life Jim but not as we know it" (Star Trek) - I used this one recently to illustrate that in the seemingly own label dominated dairy market there are brands but not as we know them. Works particularly well if your CEO is called Jim

6) "Reasons to be cheerful, one , two, three" (Ian Dury) - I was once involved in an ad for Briatin's leading muesli that used the late Mr Dury's song (indeed he re-recorded it for us) and the line 'reasons to eat Alpen, one, two, three'. Gives any list of recommendations a lyrical boost. But I'm still ashamed of the Alpen ad.

7) "It does exactly what it says on the tin" (HHCL for Ronseal) - Bit obvious but its a phrase for which there is actually no readily available alternative - thats why we use it all the time. Try manipulating it into your own aphorism rather than just quoting it.

8) Anything from Withnail as long as you are only talking to other Withnail fans - otherwise 'here, strategy, here' is likely to be meaningless.

Give me more that we might all shamlessly plunder them.


Nice ideas, I especially like number 2 as its based on an ad catch line; doubly relevant!

5 is very true, for Cravendale by any chance?

6 is good, but yeah the ad wasnt great. Ill go dust my vinyl of New Boots and Panties and forget that it existed!

7 is brilliant. Its been a great tag for the product, and its so simple and relevant that it would struggle to fail

"Wouldnt it be nice if..." (Beach Boys)

"I can resist everything except temptation" (Wilde)

Other quotes I like anyway:

"Facts Schmacks, you can use facts to prove anything thats even remotely true" (Homer Simpson)

(for a hard sell) "While I have the microphone you will listen to every damn word I have to say" (Adam Sandlers character in Wedding Singer)

Hmm, I shall go think of some better ones...

Posted by: Rob Mortimer at June 1, 2006 12:17 AM

Big fan of MLK on the need for participation. Martin Luther King enlisted people not by addressing those on the fray but
calling out those on the sidelines, reminding them of their obligations as good people.

"We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic
words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people."

Posted by: gareth at June 1, 2006 05:29 PM

I wouldn't want to mess with MLK in a powerpoint stylee. I heard a story about Jon Steel at a WPP conference when he caused a stink by rewriting MLK's "I have a dream" address in contemporary speak. Didn't go down well.

Posted by: richard at June 1, 2006 08:38 PM

I am a fan of Blackadder ... "I have a plan so cunning you could put a tail on it and call it a weasel."

Posted by: Servant of Chaos at June 2, 2006 04:40 AM

What's about these:

"The internet is a great way to get on the net." Bob Dole, Republican presidential candidate

"An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind". Gandhi

Posted by: Corentin at June 2, 2006 11:59 AM

I love the Gandhi quote.
Servant reminded me of another good Blackadder one:

"A plan as cunning as fox that's just been appointed professor of cunning at Oxford university?"

A great one from Red Dwarf:

"That suit's sharper than a page of Oscar Wilde witticisms rolled into a point, dipped in lemon juice and jabbed into someones eye" (Ace Rimmer)

Posted by: Rob Mortimer at June 2, 2006 02:30 PM

I think that I came up with this one - great to drop at funerals, thoughtful rather than funny

The only thing in life that we can expect with 100% certainty is death, yet we are always so surprised and saddened when it happens to someone close to us

Posted by: Harry at June 21, 2006 03:38 PM

"A relationship is like a shark. It needs to move forward in order to survive. What we have in our hands is a dead shark." (or something like this) -- Woddy Allen to missus in "Annie Hall".

Posted by: hidden persuader at June 22, 2006 05:56 PM