Where have all the good slogans gone?

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Sometimes you just have to wonder why a particular slogan got the green light.

Charmin – Enjoy the Go

I’ve wanted to talk about this one for awhile now. This is probably one of the worst slogans simply because of what they’re actually saying – enjoy taking a poop! But that would just be too crass, so they just call it, “the go”. What? It was bad enough that they ran away with the whole,  “does a wild bear poop in the forest” thing, but now they’re literally flushing what’s left of substance in a marketing campaign down the toilet. Well, they are toilet paper after all and I guess the end result literally ends up there, but I seriously question how this one got the stamp of approval in the first place. I’m not the only one that thinks this either. Then again the predecessor was, “Enjoy the Charmin Experience”. Sky diving is an experience. Wiping your bum with toilet paper is not.

UPS – What Can Brown Do For Your?

When this one came out all I could think of was why in the heck did they use the word brown in there … it’s a color, not a proper name. It’s a weak slogan to begin with. It’s really just a simple question that is almost universal to any service business, “What can we do for you?” All they did was take the brand’s color and replace it with we. That’s not innovative. That’s not catchy. That’s not telling someone what a company can do for them. It’s asking. It’s basically more of a over-simplified call-to-action than a solid slogan.

Hyundai – Live Brilliant

This one I feel just doesn’t fit with the car company. It feels like a square peg in a round hole. I want it to be the slogan of something that’s somehow going to change my life … so that I can literally live brilliantly. I’m sorry, but owning a Hyundai is not going to do that. It’s just another one of those tired “lifestyle” campaigns. They’re trying to sell Hyundai as a, “modern, premium” brand. This is like trying to sell Domino’s as, “legit Italian pizza pie”. I’m not saying Hyundai is a bad car or anything. I hear they’re quite affordable and dependable – which is what they should probably be running with. When trying to change a brand into something more, sinking millions of dollars into a whole new approach and trying to reach a whole new demographic is risky in the best of times. In a press release I read the reasoning behind the new slogan was not just lifestyle-motivated, but that they wanted to, “fulfill its vision to become the most beloved automotive company in the world, rather than the largest”. Did I miss something or does the line “Live Brilliant” really have anything to do with “most beloved”? I guess it will be interesting to see how this one turns out for them.

Cigna – Go You

This is another sad slogan in my book. According to their website, they want to, ” inspire you to be true to your self, in all your fantastically, amazingly, remarkably human glory”. If that’s the case those two words fall a little short of the mark. “Go You” is more of a football chant (“Go Team!”) or a pat on the back (“Go Me!”). They also have this on the site, “Never forget you’re one of a kind. We won’t.” Why not use that as the slogan? It speaks more to the fluffed up vigor of “human glory” that they’re shooting for than the lackluster cheerleader chant of “Go You”.

(Honorary Mention) Dow – Solutionism

I felt it required a mention because it embodies some of the things I find so disenchanting with advertising these days. Sometimes you can get away with creating your own word for things but to me, what “Solutionsim” says is – we ran out of ideas so we built the whole thing around a buzzword to seem “cutting edge”. Now Dow has been around for about 70 years and older companies often have to reinvent themselves through their marketing, but what I see this becoming is a “hit” on a buzzword bingo card. I’ve looked at the overall campaign and there’s some creative ideas there, but “solutionism” just rubs me the wrong way. Any word that isn’t officially in a dictionary somewhere just reeks of a hackneyed motivational speaker or an internet meme generator.

So where are things headed?

I didn’t write this one just to complain about the biggest ad agencies in the world getting the biggest pay checks for coming up with some of the most uninspiring slogans, but really to question where exactly IS marketing heading if things like, “Go You” is now a slogan that’s worth paying a firm a million bucks for? We’ve entered into the age where an ad agency can literally get away with purchasing an internet meme (for example – “keyboard cat” selling pistachios) and turning it around into marketing. The sad thing is, I don’t see it changing. Marketing often seems to be at the beck and call of what is deemed to be popular culture (or what a company deems to be popular culture). Knowing your customers, your existing market and the market you want to reach can not happen by looking at what got five million views on YouTube.

I also think marketing sometimes falls into the same trap as design does – where the creative minds are very good at coming up with ideas, but the relevance and  application can miss the mark. In design, functionality sometimes falls by the wayside in favor of some cool, ground-breaking new look or feature … that in the end, doesn’t convert visitors into buyers or customers. In marketing, a clever idea can only be a clever idea if it increases revenue, builds the brand up, takes things in successful new directions, etc. etc. How the success is measured is also a moving target with a lot of variables. Some of these we’ll never know the true “value” of, but I can say they’re certainly not all hitting their mark.

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