A lot has changed in advertising in the past decades. But one thing that continues to live on since the inception of advertising is ad slogans. We’ve all heard hundreds of them. And even after years, we won’t forget the ones that ‘clicked’ with us.
Marketers use ad slogans for a variety of reasons. The ad slogans can
- Help a company state the main benefits of the brand or set it apart from competitors – Citibank: ‘The Citi never sleeps’
- Be witty and memorable – Braniff Airlines: ‘When you got it, flaunt it’
- Make the consumer ‘feel good’ – Hallmark: ‘When you care enough to send the very best’ and L’Oreal: ‘Because I’m worth it’
- Make a consumer desire something – De Beers: ‘A diamond is forever’
These are some of the obvious benefits of having an ad slogan. But it also helps companies on other levels. An example of this is outdoor advertising. A brand promoting itself through outdoor hoardings in a big way would generally need to have an ad slogan ‘that sticks’ to set it apart.
Also, in the past, when ad slogans have had exceptional response, they’ve become an entity in themselves aiding the brand through their popularity and usage in unrelated fields. Ad slogans such as that of Braniff Airlines above or ‘Don’t leave home without it’ by American Express have found usage in the daily lives of Americans. Another example of this is the ad slogan ‘Keep Walking’ of Johnnie Walker, which has been used even in parliamentary speeches in the US. Robert Carlyle, in an ad-film for the brand, refers to it as something that has become ‘a symbol of progress’. The domain name keepwalking.com has also been purchased by the holding company and it redirects users to the website of Johnnie Walker.
However, there are certain things that marketers need to keep in mind to avoid slogans that don’t work. The slogan
- Should not be bland – something like ‘You can trust us’
- Should not be negative – ‘It doesn’t look like you can afford it’
- Should not be inconsequential – ‘Beating its own great standards every time’
- Should not be meaningless – ‘We’re Exxon’
- Should not be complicated – ‘E-content solutions that power B2B commerce’
Also, with global brands, one needs to keep in mind the cultural and language differences before translating ad slogans. There are numerous examples of this, one being from Parker ‘It won’t leak in your pocket and embarrass you”. When this pen was promoted in Mexico with the slogan converted to Spanish, the company mistakenly replaced embarrass with ‘embarazar’ which means ‘to impregnate’.
I am sure that there are many more interesting facets to ad slogans. In case you want to add any dimensions to this topic, or even if you’ve got more memorable examples of ad slogans and want to share them… Just do it!
This is a post by Sidharth Singh, a PGDM (2011) student at IIM Calcutta. You can write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org