Perhaps the best all time slogan is Maxwell House’s “Good to the last drop”. Either that or Nike’s “Just do it.”
My personal all time fave bad slogan came from a camera company, Minolta, I think. In order to make it perfectly clear where their innovative products came from, they tagged ads and commercials with “Out of our minds”. Eventually they realized what they’d done and scrapped it. 2nd place in the dunce category goes to 7Up’s “Make 7Up Yours.”
Match.com is an up and comer, though. Right now, their commercials sign off with this beauty: “People who join Match are three times more likely to find a relationship than those who don’t.” I guess they hope that nobody will realize that “those who don’t” includes everybody not looking for a relationship.
Contenders include Corona Light which shows us a sheep leaving its comrades to drink the beer. Tag line? “Ditch the herd.” Ummm, it’s a flock, not a herd. Florida Power & Light closes all its spots with the confusing “Changing the Current.” Is current an adjective here? If it is, the current what, billing practices? Is it a noun? FPL already changes from DC to AC, so are they going to change it back? Are they going to reduce the current? Should we worry? Who knows?
Sometimes a great slogan can be the near opposite of what you really want to say, Verizon’s “Can you hear me now?” for instance.
Sometimes it’s okay to go with a lame tag line. Texas is poaching businesses in CA, IL, NY, NJ, and CT (high tax, high regulation leftie states) backed by a boring but bang on tag line “Texas is calling. Your future awaits.”
Terrific tag lines usually just pop up out of nowhere. Nobody really understands how to sit down and write one but I know how not to. Start by keeping committees out of it. End by making sure you don’t step on your own foot.
Perhaps the strangest slogan I ever saw was in Toronto years ago. The kind of people who think it’s a good idea to get folks riding bicycles in heavy-commuter, long-winter cities came up with a campaign called “Bicycles Belong.”
What’s wrong with it?
For starters, most sane people have the same immediate reaction when they find out that the “where” is out in the traffic on city streets. The reaction is “No they don’t!”
The whole campaign with its emphatic nanny state voice insisted on something that is demonstrably not true.
At roughly the same time, the Province of Ontario ran a campaign with the slogan “equal pay for work of equal value”. That may or may not be a bad idea but the creative execution was abominable. It showed a man running a 500 pound drill press and a woman running a 300 pound press and stated that they should be paid the same. “Fine,” millions thought, “if that’s true, switch their jobs.”
Politics-driven ads are easy to dump on because they’re nearly always 100% baloney. But they make nice simple and obvious examples of what not to do.
Say something sensible, short, and memorable and don’t let committees or politics make you step on your foot. Just to make sure, show your new line to your mother before you publish it. If nothing works, relax. You need a huge budget and a lot of exposure to make a tag line work, anyway.