Tuesday, Jul 23, 2024

Mad Ave. Insights



My last column revolved around the longevity of slogans. I referred to Ivory Soap’s ’99.9% Pure’, Maxwell House’s ‘Good to the last drop’, and Bon Ami’s ‘Hasn’t scratched  yet’, all over a century old, as slogans.

But are they?

Or are they taglines?

You can ask the same for the following.

‘Got Milk’

‘Bounty the Quicker Picker Upper.’

Adidas. Impossible is nothing’

‘Diamonds are Forever.’

‘Shave time. Shave Money.’

Wendy’s Where is the beef?

‘Like a Good Neighbor, State Farm is there.”

‘Intel. Intel Inside.’

Lays Potato Chips. Bet you cannot eat just one.

‘M&M. Melts in your mouth. Not in your hands.’

Disney ‘Where Dreams Come True.’

Disney ‘Where the Magic Began.’

Disney ‘The Happiest Place on Earth’

To the average layperson, whether it is called a slogan or tagline is of no importance. But if you are an advertiser, there is a considerable difference in the purpose, objective, and consequence of whether you are developing a slogan or a tagline.

A tagline represents your brand.

A tagline positions your brand.

A tagline is meant to be for today, tomorrow, forever.

A tagline is your end-benefit.

A tagline is your promise.

A slogan is an extension of an advertising campaign.

Its duration is tied to the duration of the campaign.

A tagline is where you draw the line in the sand. This is what you stand for. No wishy-washy, no backing away.

Bon Ami ‘Hasn’t Scratched Yet’ is a tagline.

In all honesty, I doubt if there was strategic thinking behind the tagline. But in all honesty, the Bon Ami people stated with simply honesty their product benefit. This is what our cleaner delivers, clean without scratches. This is what Bon Ami stands for, what Bon Ami delivers, what Bon Ami promises.

FedEx’s “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight” is the line in the sand, the promise. A promise that still stands. A promise that stands tall over all the following campaigns FedEx ran to distinguish itself in an industry category that can easily fall into being a commodity – delivery.

Got Milk is a creative campaign concept. No promise. The benefit is inferred from the use of famous personalities. But the benefit is not inherent within the product. It is an expectation within the consumer, a hope, a desire, a wish to be seen as cool and hip by drinking milk.

But Got Milk in no way defines the product.

A rose by any other name is a still a rose. Milk by any other slogan is still – milk. It has not been converted into some magic potion.

Many years ago, a newly hired copywriter was given the assignment to create a campaign for a Proctor and Gamble paper towel. Given his junior, junior position, he was ensconced in an office that made a telephone booth (remember those?) seem like grand central. He was given a desk that could have been used by Thomas Edison himself. All this to the great fortune of P&G. He had no restraints in using his well-aged desk for comparing the P&G paper towel to the competition.

His method: pour glass after glass of water on his desk and see how effective each paper towel was in soaking up the water.

Over the years, the tagline he developed has generated hundreds of millions in revenue for P&G: Bounty: The Quicker Picker Upper.

Over the years, P&G has used different slogans for Bounty campaigns. But the positioning has always remained and is on every package: The Quicker Picker Upper. Bounty continues to develop technology to make sure Bounty lives up to its promise.

A slogan is built on a campaign strategy. It is a tactical strategy. The lifetime of the slogan is tied to the lifetime of the campaign. Sometimes less. Sometimes the slogan changes during the duration of the campaign.

The cell phone industry is one of fierce competitiveness, mostly fought over rates. Problem is no one ever wins a price war. Since the advertising focuses on price, and no other benefit, the consumer is trained to focus on finding the lowest price. For the advertiser, pricing becomes a downward spiral that leaves little margin for profit.

Version was caught up in that price melee. But an analysis revealed that it provided the most dependable coverage in the industry. At the same time, many cell phone users were being reminded daily that you get what you pay for, with dropped calls and “no, I cannot hear you, are you still there?” calls.

Verizon jumped on the opportunity. Price was not the issue. Consistency in the quality of service was the issue. Verizon invested in building better technical infrastructure, creating dependability in service superior to its competitors. To get the message across, Verizon and its agency, Bozell, were looking for a campaign that was atypical of cell phone advertising. A campaign that would cut through the cacophony of industry commercials and emblazon the message across America.

Can You Hear Me Now? was that campaign. Fresh. Humorous. Memorable.

Can You Hear Me Now? is an iconic slogan. But it is a campaign slogan. Not a tagline. It does not define the company or the service.

Back in 1950, a general sales manager at Allstate Insurance rushed home after learning his daughter was ill. His wife, comforting him, noted that the girl was “in good hands” with the doctor. The manager recalled the incident at a sales meeting, and “You’re in good hands with Allstate” was born. Ever since then, the tagline has been the core message of Allstate’s advertising, one of the longest running taglines.

You are in good hands personifies the company and its benefits. It is personable and personal, with direct contact with agents. It is customer-focused, continuously updating and adding valuable features and benefits.

And, while the tagline is 50 years old, it has supported a variety of campaigns that are contemporary and distinctive.

Above all, it has the most critical criteria – it is emotional. It speaks to us on a human scale. It promises comfort, care, concern – all the things we look for, indeed we need, during times of stress and duress.

Great taglines may come through a fortuitous comment. But they are more likely to come from a very clear understanding of your target audience and what your end-benefit is.

Dunkin’ Donuts is a supreme example.

According to John Gilbert, Dunkin’ Donuts’ vice president of marketing, ‘America Runs on Dunkin’ drives the concept that Dunkin’ Donuts’ freshly made coffee and baked goods energize Americans from all walks of life so they can keep the country running on their dedicated hard work and positive outlooks. The campaign pays homage to those who embody the authentic spirit on which America was founded, as everyday people are shown bringing their honesty, enterprising creativity, and good humor to their work, families, and communities.

“The Dunkin’ Donuts’ brand essence is about invigorating the hard-working people who keep America running day-to-day,” said Gilbert. “Dunkin’ Donuts as a brand appeal to a broad spectrum of customers demographically and is associated with high-quality products for a good value, a strong work ethic, and a grounded sense of our own identity.”

America Runs on Dunkin speaks with integrity to its customers. No gimmicks. A coffee is called coffee. Hard work and honest ethics for people who drive the infrastructure that drives the country. The tagline defines the company and its products.

Potato chips are commodities. Flavors are closely duplicatable. How do you distinguish one from another? Give it personality. Flavor it with humor. Lays ran a campaign ‘Betcha can’t eat just one,’ that was highly successful. The premise was a cheat – no one in the entire universe can eat just one salty item, be it a potato chip, pretzel, peanut or whatever. The campaign was hugely successful, ran its course, and was shelved – along with its slogan.

Over the years, Disney has used a number of slogans. But it has positioned itself as ‘The Happiest Place on Earth.’ That is its tagline, its immutable promise behind which it has stood for decades and will continue to stand for decades. To deliver on that promise, it has become a leader in training corporations how to communicate with and build strong relationships with their customers.

Taglines do evolve from slogans. MasterCard’s ‘There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else, there’s MasterCard’ evolved into its ‘Priceless’ campaign and is seen as its tagline. The promise is simply that you will always have the money available to purchase the things you want. The power is not in its uniqueness vis-a-vis Visa, but in the emotional power of the campaign – hence, only time will tell whether the campaign will fade.

As an advertiser, when you create a tagline, you are looking into the mirror, into your core – what are you about, what do you stand for, what are you committed to, what you will never violate.

As an advertiser, if you are setting out to create another Got Milk campaign and slogan, my advice – leave it to the creatives.

Meanwhile, I will leave you to decide which phrases at the beginning of the column are taglines or slogans.


Interested in developing your creative thinking skills to grow your business? Maybe even disrupt your business category? Subscribe to my “Unleash Your Creative Thinking” free email course. Email bullseyemarketing1@gmail.com, with “Creative Thinking” as the subject.



Chanina Katz has over two decades experience in major Madison Ave. ad agencies developing highly successful strategies and award-winning campaigns for such blue-chip clients as Colgate, RJ Reynolds, Hilton, Home Depot, General Mills, KFC and many others in a wide variety of package goods and services businesses. He provides marketing services for a range of businesses, from start-ups to major corporations. He lectures on marketing and creativity. He can be reached at Bullseyemarketing1@gmail.com.




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