As I sit through all of the expensive commercials running during NFL games, I’m struck with the fact that the marketing world is mired in what can only be called, runaway sloganeering.
If you doubt this, take the following quiz. Here are some current multi-million dollar slogans for some very big national advertisers. See how many you can match up with a sponsoring company:
Your future made easier.
Your world delivered.
Yes you can.
Way of light.
Always worth it.
Today’s the day.
I know what you’re thinking. It’s not fair to take a slogan out of context. They are just some ideas for a commercial or a print advertisement. That’s the problem. If you think like that, you’ll probably end up with just a cute but meaningless set of words. A good slogan should be a position or differentiating idea.
None on that list comes close to being that. What you’re after are the likes of what I call “Hall of Fame slogans”–such as these, which I suspect you’ll have little trouble with.
Diamonds are forever.
The real thing.
The ultimate driving machine.
Everywhere you want to be.
Better ingredients. Better pizza.
Some of these have been around for decades. One is still remembered (even though it hasn’t been used in decades). All go to the essence of the product, not to the commercial. None of them can easily be expressed by a competitor. (That happens to be a litmus test for a slogan.) For example, Nokia has been running the meaningless slogan “Connecting People.” Well, what else does a cell phone connect? That same idea could easily be expressed by Motorola or Ericsson. What really differentiates Nokia is their position of leadership. The slogan they should be running is “The world’s No. 1 cell phone.”
That same leadership concept would make far more sense than “I’m lovin’ it” for McDonald’s. When you consider their size and global reach, you could easily position them as, “The world’s favorite place to eat.” Agency folks would quickly label leadership as boring and not interesting. And ask how can I put it to music?
What these folks ignore is the psychological power of leadership. People tend to buy what others buy. It’s what psychologists call the “herd effect.” (People judge their actions correct to the degree they see others performing them.) But instead of using this psychology, they choose to be cute and creative. Next stop, a meaningless slogan. What many agency folks and marketers fail to understand is that there are many ways to differentiate a product beyond the product itself. In addition to leadership, there is heritage, attributes, how it’s made and next generation strategies to pursue. (I wrote a book on all this entitled, Differentiate or Die.)
The underlying problem is that these slogans do not help or produce a reason to buy a certain product over another. This means that the advertising isn’t very effective. This in turn causes marketers to loose faith in advertising. The bottom line: Meaningless slogans are like a virus that is undermining the world of marketing. Unless it’s stopped, we are watching category after category become commodities.
And that is big trouble unless you have a very low price.
Quiz No. 1 Answers
Your future made easier. ING
Your world delivered. AT&T
Yes you can. Sprint
Way of life. Suzuki
Uncommon wisdom. Wachovia
Always worth it. Bud Light
Today’s the day. Monster.com
Quiz No. 2 Answers
Diamonds are forever. DeBeers
The real thing. Coke
The ultimate driving machine. BMW
Everywhere you want to be. Visa
Better ingredients. Better Pizza. Papa John’s
Eat Fresh. Subway
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