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How Ad Slogans Work

Testing a Line for Effectiveness

The line may look good on paper, but there are some tests you can give the words to see if they really work:

Does the line help when you're ordering the product or service? 

Some examples that do:


  • "I want to have 'the ultimate driving machine'." (BMW)
  • "Give me 'taste. Not waist'." (Weight Watchers Meals)
  • "'Why fool around with anyone else?'" (FedEx)

Some examples that don't:

  • "I want a beer that's 'good, but not that good.'" (Tennents)
  • "I want two tickets to Brussels on 'Britain's second-largest international scheduled airline'!" (Air Europe -- now out of business)

Does it prompt a sarcastic or negative response?

Some examples that do:

  • Delta Airlines: "We get you there."
  • Mobil: "We want you to live."
  • FileMaker software: "What's your problem?"
  • Eastern Airlines: "We have to earn our wings every day."

Does it sound a bit pompous?

This is where you read the line with the utmost gravity, like an American narrator in a 50's corporate film, giving it the true spin of importance. These fail the test:

  • Ariel Ultra: "Digests the fatty food stains ordinary compacts leave behind at 40°."
  • Churchill: "Surprisingly passionate about insurance."
  • Kyocera: "Doing what others dare not."
  • Olivetti: "Our force is your energy."
  • The Hair Clinic: "Where excellence is an everyday word."

Does it reek of 'corporate-speak', sounding unreal?

  • Most banks: "Where people make the difference."
  • Ames Rubber: "Excellence through total quality."
  • Neptco: "Committed to innovation, quality and service."
  • Powergen: "We do everything in our power to put you first."
  • United Research: "Accelerating strategic change."

Does it make you say "Ho hum...", like these?

  • Cadillac: "It out-steps its own great traditions!"
  • Izod Lacoste: "We are what others pretend to be."
  • Staffordshire Building Society: "A real building society -- mutual since 1902."
  • Currie Motors: "Nice people to do business with."
  • "Visit your Tetrad stockist and discover the Tetrad lifestyle."

Does it make you say "Oh yeah?"

These do:

  • British Rail. We're getting there.
  • British Telecom. It's you we answer to.
  • Kmart. Changing for the better.
  • Tellabs. Leadership in providing innovative solutions to the telecommunications industry worldwide.

Does it sound a bit mixed up?

  • Caltex Oil. At the heart of your engine. And the community.
  • XS Health. Medical insurance for you. Because you don't get ill.
  • Stillwell Ford. We put people in front of cars.

In any event, here's to more creative, effective slogans. We'll be watching!