As regular readers of the CR blog will be aware, we are devoting a forthcoming issue of the magazine to looking at the best slogans ever. We canvassed your opinions on the blog, and have now approached a panel of industry experts to give us their top five slogans. Here’s what they picked…
John Hegarty, BBH
1. Liberté, egalité, fraternité: three words that encapsulated the ambitions of the French Revolution that changed Europe forever. They still appear over every town hall in France to this day.
2. I Love NY: Copied, parodied and emulated, but still the best slogan that got New York back on its feet in the 70s.
3. It is, are you: The launch of The Independent in the mid-80s challenged people to think for themselves. It also challenged the rest of Fleet Street.
4. Refreshes the parts other beers cannot reach: Longer than most slogans, it still caught the public’s imagination. It first appeared in 1974 but still gets quoted today.
5. The future’s bright, the future’s Orange: In the fast-moving, uncertain world of technology, Orange captured the public’s hesitancy and turned it to their advantage, branding themselves the future.
David Lubars, BBDO New York
1. Just do it: Nike
2. Drivers wanted: Volkswagen
3. Where’s the beef: Wendy’s
4. Melts in your mouth not your hand: M&Ms
5. I Love NY
6. Be all you can be: US Army
Lee Clow, TBWA
1. Just do it: Nike
2. The ultimate driving machine: BMW
3. When it absolutely positively has to be there overnight: Fedex
4. Got Milk
5. Think Different: Apple
Margaret Johnson, Goodby, Sliverstein & Partners
1. The Ultimate Driving Machine: BMW. It’s got teeth. And it makes me feel confident that even after spending $60K on a car, I made a smart choice.
2. I want my MTV: I always sing it rather than say it, which is perfect, considering the category.
3. Reassuringly expensive: Stella Artois. You would expect to hear this line over a super high-end luxury item. So, for a beer, it’s funny. And makes me willing to spend a few cents more.
4. All the news that’s fit to print: New York Times. No bullshit. Tells me that what’s in here is worth reading – and if it’s not in the Times, it’s probably not worth my time.
5. I Love New York: So simple. You don’t even need to speak English to get it.
Wally Olins, Saffron
1. Refreshes the parts other beers cannot reach: Heineken
2. Dig for victory
3. Careless talk costs lives
4. Britons make it, it makes Britons: Welgar Shredded Wheat
5. We’re getting there: British Rail. Created by Saatchi in the 1980s when British Rail was clearly getting nowhere at all.
Naresh Ramchandani, Pentagram
1. My favourite advertising slogan: Does exactly what it says on the tin, Ronseal. It’s exactly the type of slogan that advertising should not have produced. Advertising does hype; this line for Ronseal gave us stripped-down functionality; advertising does finely-honed hysteria, this line gave us a grumpy clumpy statement of fact. Maybe its unadvertising nature is why this slogan has been able to pass through into everyday culture like no advertising phrase before it or since. It’s also sold a few tins of wood varnish along the way.
2. My favourite anti-consumption slogan: My other car’s a Porsche. Littering car bumpers throughout the 1980s, this was a perfect example of slogan as subversion. Subtext: ‘even though I’ve got no money and a crappy car, the fact that I’ve also got some wit makes me smarter than a banker with a million pounds and a flashy motor’. Better still, Porsche owners thought it was a compliment. As we accelerate into an age where overconsumption is crippling our economies and our climate, we need a few more bumper stickers like this one.
3. My favourite revolutionary slogan: Peace, Land, Bread. Lenin’s October Revolution slogan was firmly in the school of three word manifestos separated by commas, but unlike the high-minded ‘Altius, Citius, Fortius’ and ‘Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité,’ ‘Peace, Land and Bread’ was both soaringly idealistic and magnificently modest. ‘All we want is to avoid being in wars we don’t understand, a little patch of land to live on and some food on our table.’ Proletarian perfection. Sign me up.
4. My favourite violent slogan: An eye for an eye. A beautifully simple set of words that takes the violent notion of revenge and presents it as animal, primal, moral and powerful. So powerful in fact that Gandhi felt the need to neuter it by adding a second half, ‘an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.’ Gandhi wasn’t technically correct because an eye for an eye only makes the world half-blind, and the violent version remains a more powerful phrase than its non-violent remix and shows just how dangerous words can be.
5. My favourite non-violent slogan: Make love not war. This slogan was never going to change anyone’s mind. If you were a warmonger who thought that any weirdness in the world had to be obliterated, a bunch of hippies telling you to make love instead was only going to make you pull the trigger faster. But as a four-word word-four syllable articulation of a belief system that puts humanism before suspicion, ‘Make Love Not War’ was fabulous phrasemaking. At Karmarama we riffed on it for our ‘Make Tea Not War’ placards but the original was the world’s best T-shirt slogan for as long as those T-shirts stayed on.
Rory Sutherland, Ogilvy
1. Reassuringly expensive: Stella Artois. A brilliant defence of a price premium, and a superb psychological insight into the nature of a ‘Veblen Good’ – i.e an item with negative price elasticity.
2. Noone ever got fired for buying IBM. A great understanding of loss aversion, and its even greater role in B2B decisions.
3. No-one likes us, we don’t care: Millwall FC. An unbeatable example for a challenger brand.
4. How else can a month’s salary last a lifetime?: De Beers. Brilliant price-framing line.
5. Campaign for Real Beauty: Dove. Elevating a brand into a philosophy.
Nils Leonard, Grey Advertising
1. I love NY
2. Just do it: Nike.
3. WHAASSSSUUUUUUUUUP: Budweiser.
4. Hello Boys: Wonderbra
5. I’ll be back.
1. Labour isn’t working: the ultimate advertising line. Slick hypocrisy honed to a fine art.
2. Does exactly what it says on the tin: Ronseal. An anti-advertising line that’s used every single day.
3. Keep calm and carry on: The only way to stay sane while working in advertising. Timeless wisdom.
4. We’re number 2, we try harder: Avis. The cleverest line ever written in advertising. Turned the client’s biggest weakness into their biggest strength.
5. Lipsmackin’ thirstquenchin’ acetastin’ motivatin’ goodbuzzin’ cooltalkin’ highwalkin’ fastlivin’ evergivin’ coolfizzin’ Pepsi: Another great ad line. How to say nothing, unforgettably.
Stephen Butler, Mother
1. Obey, by Shepard Fairey. In a world dominated by the commercial slogan, Fairey reclaimed the streets from the corporates and gave it back to the people. It said they were ours whilst creating a lasting image of alarm, a benign 20th century big Buddha. A warning against the very slogans it lived amongst, the lone guerrilla fighter amongst the organised commercial armies that occupied our cities.
2. Better dead then Red. Has national propaganda ever delivered a more chilling warning against succumbing to an alien force? A slogan where the word ‘RED’ conjures an all enveloping image of menace with death, the David-like spit in the face to this colourful Goliath. Rhyme is the master of success.
3. Snap! Crackle! Pop!: Rice Crispies. Says it like it is. Those small creamy puffs of baked rice playing out a symphony to a child’s imagination. Before one would take a mouthful one would stare into the bowl taking in this sonic slogan, impressed with a smile, permanent. Iconic.
4. I’d walk a mile for a Camel. Only the Marlboro cowboy could challenge the image of the Camel man that this slogan endowed with a sense of adventure. The crushed packet and everlasting icon of the last of the khaki shirted frontiers. It has gone the distance. Timeless.
5. And finally, one that sold neither a product, a politician nor a religion, but perhaps a generation. Cinema’s greatest slogan delivered to a time that would become eternal in the pantheon of capitalism. Gordon Gekko’s seminal ‘Greed is good’. Enough said!
Russell Ramsey, JWT London
1. Vorsprung Durch Technik: Audi. Nobody knows what it actually means but it gave a mid-range car brand attitude and personality.
2. Have a Break, Have a KitKat: Been around for over 70 years. An endline that most of its competitors would kill for and many have imitated.
3. Heineken refreshes the parts other beers cannot reach: Far too long but the definitive cause and effect endline. Brought to life by some legendary advertising.
4. A Diamond is forever: De Beers. True and born out of the product. Makes any other gift seem inadequate.
5. Marmite. You either love it or you hate it: Brave positioning to say half the population hates your product but turned Marmite into an icon.
Mark Bernath, Wieden + Kennedy Amsterdam
Probably the hardest thing to come up with is a good slogan. That’s why
there aren’t that many that are great. I tend to prefer ones that are
words you can live by. Just do it. Tough to beat that one. Think
different. Never stop exploring. Stay curious. They all keep you from
getting lazy. And have value beyond merely trying to sell you something.
Oddly enough the one that I can’t ever get out of my head has nothing to
do with any of this. It comes from Crazy People, the hilarious movie
about advertising where a guy’s career thrives once he is in a mental
institution and begins collaborating with the other patients. For the
Paramount Pictures release The Freak, they penned this winner: ‘The
Freak. This movie won’t just scare you, it will fuck you up for life.’
That’s a pretty good one.
Olivier Altmann, Publicis
1. Make love, not war: A slogan from the 1960s that was used against the Vietnam War and then later adopted by John Lennon and Bob Marley.
The author of the slogan is unknown, I believe, however the message is still in use today.
2. Just do it: Nike. A slogan that truly embodies Nike’s values and one which they returned to after having changed to ‘Play’. Even Adidas had to follow their lead; ‘Impossible is Nothing’ also celebrates the idea of going beyond our own limits.
3. Have a break. Have a Kit Kat: When the name and distinctiveness of the product are so well integrated into the slogan it is easy to understand why the brand doesn’t change it. I miss the era of ‘Heineken refreshes the part…’, ‘Happiness is a mild cigar’, because these taglines were, above all, concepts that allowed for brands to be built over the long term, instead of changing everything every time there was new marketing management. Sometimes it is more courageous not to change whatever was created by the predecessor and to just reinvent it.
4. Think different: With the passing of Steve Jobs, we can no longer cite this slogan which embodies as much the founder’s motto as that of the products, but above all the Apple community. Another strength of the English language is its ability to deliver impactful concepts in just a few words, understood all over the world. English is the Esperanto of the modern world.
5. Vorsprung Durch Technik: Audi. A perfect counterexample to US claims. You do not have to understand German to understand that Audi is German and serious. A display of boldness from BBH and Audi, so much so that some years later VW now signs ‘Das Auto’…
6. As a Frenchman, I’m adding a sixth: Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité (Freedom, Equality, Brotherhood). A slogan that can be seen on most official French buildings and which still reflects our national ideas. Although French people, contrary to what people may believe, are not patriotic at heart, these few words unite them each time there is a threat to the Republic.
Mark Denton, Coy
1. Go to work on an egg: Egg Marketing Board
2. Drinka Pinta Milka Day: The National Dairy Council
3. Beanz Meanz Heinz
4. Nice one Cyril: Wonderloaf
5. Lipsmackin’ thirstquenchin’ acetastin’ motivatin’ goodbuzzin’ cooltalkin’
highwalkin’ fastlivin’ evergivin’ coolfizzin’ Pepsi
Chris Davenport, Interbrand
1. You either love it or you hate it: Marmite. How brave, honest and clever to make a virtue of your polarising properties. Too many brands want everyone to love them and end up being rather insipid. This line has real punch and flavour, shunning half the market, and leading the brand name being used as shorthand for anything that inspires strong but opposite reactions. I love it.
2. The world’s local bank: HSBC. While big business pondered the question ‘How do we do this global-local thing?’, HSBC realised the answer was in the question: ‘We do this global-local thing.’ The simple ideas are often the best.
3. It’s not for girls: Yorkie. The chunky chocolate choice of the discerning trucker, this line is another example of the power of shunning half the market. I love how un-PC this was, and amidst the controversy, I’m sure Nestlé loved how it goaded a massive uplift in sales. It’s rumoured some of them were in fact girls.
4. Every little helps: Tesco. This will no doubt be a popular one. In three simple words, it sums up their positioning as customer champion in an ageless but everyday cry of progress. The mutation of the line into ‘Every litre helps’ in response to mounting fuel prices was two strokes of brilliance. Please can we see ‘Merry little elves’ come Christmastime?
5. Good things come to those who wait: Guinness. This anticipatory line is almost prophetically authoritative when consistently combined with the expectation-building ceremonies of the iconic drink. I love its dramatic tension, its unhurried length, and its unfashionable message of patience. Cheers.
Stéphane Xiberras, BETC Euro RSCG Paris
1. L’eau l’air la vie (Water, air, life): Perrier
2. T’es moche mais qu’est ce que tu bosses (You’re ugly but you sure work hard): Jex sponges
3. L’eau que vous buvez est aussi importante que l’air que vous respirez (The water you drink is as important as the air you breathe): Evian
4. Il faudrait être fou pour dépenser plus (You would to be mad to spend more): Eram shoes
5. Vous n’imaginez pas tout ce que Citroën peut faire pour vous (You can’t imagine everything that Citroën can do for you)
6. 100% des gagnants ont tenté leur chance (100% of the winners tried their luck): Loto
Nick Asbury, Asbury & Asbury
1. Every little helps: Tesco. I put this ahead of the others because it’s not just an advertising endline – it’s also a proper brand positioning. This is the comment I left on the original CR post: “For me, the best strapline ever is also arguably the most evil: Tesco’s ‘Every little helps’. It’s clever because it’s rooted in folk wisdom – a saying that has been passed down through generations. Exactly the kind of thing your grandma used to say. So it carries the everyday authority of a proverb. It’s tonally appropriate – conversational and impossible to misunderstand (unlike John Lewis’s mind-bending ‘Never knowingly undersold’). It’s strategically spot-on, because it taps into the customer’s mindset, and also works as a brilliant internal motivator. It’s about the tiny things that add up to a big difference – the penny cheaper on the baked beans, or the penny off the price you get from a supplier. Multiply tiny differences by something as big as Tesco and you have world domination. And that’s the evil bit. The line is a classic example of verbal misdirection. ‘Little’ ought to be the last word you associate with Tesco. You should think of them as a multinational giant crushing everything in its path. But instead they plant that word in your head, with all the folksy charm it implies. I don’t like it, but I admire it very much.”
2. Beanz Meanz Heinz. The classic brief – associate our name with the generic product. The prosaic answer would be ‘Think beans. Think Heinz.’ This is the poetic answer – a brilliant piece of wordplay rooted in the brand name.
3. Does exactly what it says on the tin: Ronseal. Created a new idiom that will probably survive in the language long after Ronseal has gone. It’s a kind of anti-strapline – no wordplay, no clever twist, and a message so obvious it shouldn’t need saying, why wouldn’t it do what it says on the tin? But the hyper-clarity is perfect for the bewildering world of DIY.
4. Snap! Crackle! Pop!: Rice Crispies. The definitive example of a strapline driving an entire brand. Like many great lines, it wasn’t conceived as a strapline it was part of a radio ad that got picked up and developed into a series of characters that are still used today. Interestingly, the product makes a different sound in other countries: Pif! Paf! Puf! (Denmark), Cric! Crac! Croc! (France), Knisper! Knasper! Knusper! (Germany), Pim! Pum! Pam! (Mexico).
5. Probably the best lager in the world: Carlsberg. A classic example of a brand taking ownership of a word. Look up ‘Probably’ in a dictionary and you half-expect a TM to appear next to it. It’s even better because Orson Welles voiced the original TV ads – the greatest voice reading one of the greatest lines. They don’t make them like that any more. (They make ‘That calls for a Carlsberg.’)
Gordon Comstock, CR columnist and freelance ad copywriter
1. You never actually own a Patek Phillipe, you merely look after it for the next generation: Just one of the reasons why Tim Delaney is still Britain’s best living copywriter. The brand runs this line with different photography every year and pays his agency a million quid. It’s probably worth it too, it’s a choice few words that can justify the purchase of a £35K watch. It’s a confident writer (a writer who is also his own creative director) that will leave two adverbs in a headline. The endline, ‘Begin your own tradition’ pays it off beautifully.
2. Just Do It: Nike. Dan Wieden says that the Nike strapline was based on the last words of a condemned man. Actually these were ‘let’s do it’. It’s funny that, looking at the words on the page without any knowledge of the body of advertising they’re attached to (if you can imagine that), you might not immediately recognise their power because they’re so simple. That’s part of the difficulty, recognising which simple words pull hardest.
3. To be or not to be: It’s not a slogan, it’s probably the most famous line literature. The ultimate cliché and yet still incredible. Six words and six syllables embodying the great existential question. There’s quite a bit of this in Hamlet, the ‘there’s a special providence in the fall of a sparrow/if it be now ’tis not to come’ speech being another less famous one. I’ve always thought it was Shakespeare seeing what small words could do like a master painter exploring the possibilities of the colour black.
4. Never Knowingly Undersold: John Lewis. Does anyone know who wrote this? It means ‘we won’t be beaten on price’ but it’s such a curious way of putting it and virtually incomprehensible to anyone under 50. It’s strange because it’s an endline that they act on – a promise, rather than an assertion. Something that they’re committed to doing, not something (like ‘just do it’) that you have to do. You can probably track the shift in advertising endlines from what we do (‘we try harder’, ‘never knowingly undersold’) to what you do.
5. It is. Are you?: The Independent. It’s not any more, it’s owned by a Russian oligarch. But when it was this was a great line. Notice that it doesn’t limit the paper at all – like a line that was about ‘news’ might. I don’t know who wrote it, but it may have been Charles Inge. He definitely did the TV ad with punk-poet John Cooper Clark.
Thanks to everyone who contributed. These suggestions will join our readers’ nominations to help compile a final top 20 that will be showcased in the Feburary issue of CR.
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