I have this idea for a slogan...
Can I protect it? What should I do?


Why is it difficult to interest a company in my slogan idea?


1. Brands typically have long-term marketing communications strategies in place. They don't want to rock the boat by introducing a new slogan out of the blue.

2. There have been cases where a member of the public complains that they sent in an idea which was not accepted and some time later found it forming the basis of a campaign, with lawsuits and all that sort of thing following. For this reason many companies refuse to even look at unsolicited submissions.


How can I turn unsolicited into solicited?


Write to the Advertising Director (at the advertiser) or the Creative Director (at the agency) asking what you need to do to submit an idea for their consideration.

Expect to be rejected. There's a lot of NIH around (Not Invented Here).


When is the most likely time for a new slogan to be required?


During the new business phase -- typically when a new agency is pitching for the account, or has just won it, or the existing agency is being reviewed.

To understand the logic of slogan development, read the section 'The Evolution of an Advertising Slogan'

More Information: 'The Evolution of an Advertising Slogan'


How can I find out about which agencies are pitching for new business?

A. Read Campaign (UK), Adweek (USA) or Advertising Age (USA) (weekly magazines and websites) or Arrange to get free daily industry newsletters.
  More Information: Subscribe to Advertising News. Send a blank e-mail to: on-index_advertising_d@e.moreover.com


How can I find out which agencies are handling which brands?

A. Refer to The Advertisers' Annual (UK).
More Information: Advertisers' Annual.


How can I make my slogan better?

A. To understand how slogans work, read our article 'The Art & Science of the Advertising Slogan'.
More Information: Article.


Can I copyright my slogan idea?

A. Slogans cannot be 'copyrighted'.

Neither can ideas.
More Information: Copyright (UK).
More Information: Copyright (USA).


What about registering it as a trademark?

A. The trademark registration process is lengthy and expensive. To understand about UK trademark registration, see our Wise Words article No 6 'Registering Slogans As Trade Marks', or read the government Patent Office notes:
More Information: Wise Words Article.


What sorts of lines can and cannot be registered as a trademark?

A. A line incorporating a brand name that is in itself a registered trademark is likely to be registrable, eg 'Heineken refreshes the parts other beers cannot reach', or 'Beanz Meanz Heinz', or 'Don't just book it, Thomas Cook it'.

You won't be able to obtain any exclusivity to a line that could work just as well for another brand, eg: 'The natural choice', 'Simply the best', 'Our people make the difference', 'Excellence through total quality'.

Usually TM registrations of these lines refer more to the depiction of the words (eg, layout, typography, colouring) rather than the actual words themselves. In fact there is usually a statement on the registration document asserting 'no exclusive rights' to the use of the words 'Simply the best', or whatever.

For proper legal advice please talk to an intellectual property lawyer.


Isn't there some way I can protect myself from being ripped off?

A. A good way to protect a line is to send yourself a sealed registered letter giving the details. Do not open this until you need to demonstrate your date of origination.


But I like writing slogans. What else can I do?

A. If you're really into creating slogans, get a job at an ad agency as a copywriter. See the text of Getting Into Advertising, which is available online from the UK Advertising Association.

Or become a comper and enter contests. Some people make a living that way. See loquax.co.uk.

More Information: Getting Into Advertising.



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