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Steve Wateridge
Steve Wateridge is a director at The Research Business International, specialising in qualitative advertising and strategic brand research. He began his career at Grand Metropolitan Brewery as a market-research executive, then moved into account planning at BST-BDDP. From there he joined the Brand Development Unit of TRBI.

Brian Donaghey
Brian Donaghey started his career in qualitative research in 1984, training at Q Search, before moving to Davies Riley-Smith Maclay. He joined The Research Business International in 1988, focusing on brand-essence studies and advertising-development research. He is now a board director and recently brought his expertise to Verve, TRBI's youth consultancy.

This article first appeared in Admap, October 1998,
and was sourced from the
World Advertising Research Center ,
reprinted with permission.
© 1998 NTC Publications Ltd


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AdSlogans.com -- Wise Words/2

The Endline: Important Tool
Or Hackneyed Device?

Brian Donaghey and Steve Wateridge,
of The Research Business International,
discuss new evidence in the role and value
of slogans, straplines and endlines

The Value of Endlines

A debate seems to be stirring within the marketing and advertising community over the role and value of endlines; is the endline going through its death throes (and should it be allowed to die), or are endlines an important part of our advertising heritage that should be sustained and celebrated? It has been suggested that endlines now carry little weight with marketers and creatives compared to the past,

and that while some clients feel the need for an endline, agencies are much more equivocal. There is however little published evidence on the consumer's perspective on this debate. This article argues that, treated sensitively, endlines can still operate very effectively for consumers as a means of triggering important brand associations.

Do endlines matter?

Many recent successful campaigns have not carried endlines and this has not been to their detriment. It has been asked whether consumers even notice or care whether an advertisement or campaign carries an endline. In preparation for this article, we asked a fair number of consumers this question. In general, the consensus was that so many endlines fail to register, that it is often impossible to say whether an advertisement did or did not actually have one. (A consequence of poor endlines or the industry abandoning the device?) 

This is not to say, however, that consumers do not enjoy and respond positively to endlines or slogans, and there is no doubt that among many people, particularly the

under-25s, slogans still become incorporated into everyday language and take their place as part of the vernacular. From our observations as qualitative researchers, this not only keeps a particular brand name top-of-mind, but bolsters the consumer relationship with advertising, keeping it as salient a part of their lives as are some of their favourite films and TV programmes. This can be a clear bonus from having (good) endlines: if they get talked about, remembered and used in common language, they help keep the world of advertising alive and well and living in consumers' minds. This does, of course, depend on the extent to which there are good, memorable, catchy endlines 'out there', which also have positive associations. 

The Role of the Endline

However, the real issue is the role of the endline. Historically, for many agencies, the value of an endline lay in the fact that it served as an encapsulation of an idea, which could then be executed and re-executed: when you read you begin with A, B, C; when you write you begin with an endline. From the consumer perspective, the rationale for an endline is that it acts as a device to link an advertising campaign together and serves

as a trigger to recall that advertising or brand. We accept this, and we could say that 'endlines trigger parts that other creative devices cannot reach' -- but this would only be partially true. Further, few endlines are used in this way, and different endlines or slogans allow access to the brand or advertising in different ways, depending on the nature of the endline and the advertising.

Some initial research

In preparing this article, we conducted some exploratory research among a small sample of 100 people (60% female, 40% male) aged between 17 and 45. The objective was to see what consumers felt about endlines, whether they could remember any, or attribute brands to a selection of endlines, and what they perceived the role of endlines to be. The research consisted of 15-minute qualitative interviews, in hall, exploring consumer attitudes towards slogans and looking

at levels and type of recall for a random selection of primarily fmcg brand endlines (past and present), and a random selection of brands. Given the small-scale nature of the study, the bias towards fmcg rather than financial services or car brands, and South-East locations, the findings are hardly scientific. Nevertheless, they provide scope for some hypotheses, and a number of interesting, though not very surprising, insights emerged:

Research Findings
  • Famous slogans from the past were consistently attributed to the correct brand, although few were able to remember many executional details from the advertising which accompanied the slogan. Nevertheless, these slogans still had the power to deliver a message in relation to the brand, or to trigger pack or branding device recall (eg, 'for great lager, follow the bear').
  • Some endlines, (mostly more recent), when correctly attributed to the brand, served to trigger sounds and images from the advertising executions themselves, indicating that endlines can operate as a gateway into the creative, with all its associated rational and emotional communications. The Kit Kat, Tango and Boddington's endlines are good examples of where this occurs.

  • Recall was often assisted when the slogan or ad had been accompanied by a jingle. TSB, Hamlet, Heinz Baked Beans, Martini and the Hofmeister fell into this group.
  • Finally, some more recent ads, while not bringing the creative to mind in this much detail, were strongly linked to brand logo, symbol, packaging or other branding devices, particularly for the target consumers for the advertising. Moreover, some of these seemed to operate beyond the realms of the advertising idea, in that they appeared to express the brand philosophy, reflecting a brand attitude which mirrored real consumer sentiment. 'Just do it' for Nike and BT's 'It's good to talk' are examples. 
Brand Attitudes

Tango, in addressing the consumer with its 'You know when¶' phrase, rather than just making a statement about the product, is almost one of this group. With Tango, a clear brand attitude is linked to the endline, which in turn promises the

consumer something more than a product experience. In generating the desire to be 'Tangoed' or even to be a 'Tango sort of guy', the endline operates as a call to action, in a similar way to Nike's 'Just do it'.

Some definitions

There seems to be some uncertainty within the industry as to what the difference between a 'slogan' and a 'strapline' is. Our view is that the difference lies in the extent to which the consumer is called to action or promised something active. Thus while a strapline can be seen purely as a summation of the execution or campaign relating to a product benefit or branding device (eg, 'Ask before you borrow it' -- Nissan), a slogan is more potent, incorporating a statement of a brand (almost corporate) belief system at a level beyond product delivery, within which a call to action might operate (eg, BT -- 'It's good to talk').

But maybe this is forcing the issue, as good straplines themselves, after time, can seem to take on slogan-like qualities. Moreover, even if these can be seen as two approaches, it would be hard to argue that one approach is better than the other. This is dependent on what is expected of the endline, the role of the advertising, how transferable to other media the endline needs to be, and so on. From a consumer perspective, they are in effect, one and the same, and for the purposes of this article we have used the term 'endline' as a 'catch-all'.

Registering and remembering an endline

The important point is that the links between the endline and the brand and its imagery can only operate if the endline is remembered. We would argue that it is the extent to which the endline is memorable and correctly attributed to a brand that lies at the heart of assessing whether it is good or bad.


If the endline is not remembered, it is not really doing anything. If it is remembered, this can certainly help the way in which brand meaning is stored. However, you may ask: 'What if the endline is memorable and remembered, but thought to be obvious, tacky, cheesy, clich¬d, unimaginative?' We feel that, provided the execution and creative idea are well received, this will not damage the advertising, but it can modify a generally positive response by letting down the ad at the end.

Why and how are endlines remembered

 We now want to consider those endlines which performed well or poorly in terms of recall and correct brand association.

The endlines which performed well are listed in Exhibit 1 (below) along with the percentages of 'correct brand association' for the line.

Those that performed poorly, all scoring less than 40%, included Amex, Nurofen, Budweiser, Tetley, Ford Escort, Stella Artois, John Smith's and Doritos. Nevertheless, some of these performed much better among their target audiences, for example Doritos with younger adults/teenagers and Stella Artois with male lager drinkers.

Exhibit 1 (read down)

'Successful' lines
% correctly attributing to brand

Kit Kat (Have a Break...)


Guinness (Black and white)


Milk Tray (All because...)


Iceland (Mum's gone...)


Carling Black Label (I bet...)


Orange (The future's...)


Pringles (Once you pop...)


TSB (...yes)


Nike (Just do it)


Barclaycard (... Put it on)


The National Lottery (It could be you)


Toyota (Car in front)


Tango (You know when...)


Carlsberg (Probably)


Boddington's (The cream of...)


Midland Bank (Listening)


Source: RBI Research 1998




It is not difficult to understand

It is not difficult to understand why some of the top scorers were performing well: campaign longevity and/or a large adspend certainly help explain the high and correct brand associations for Kit Kat, Milk Tray, Carling Black Label and The National Lottery. Nevertheless, even within these campaigns other factors do come into play. For example, with 'Have a break, have a Kit Kat' the slogan relates to the core sequence in the advertising &endash; the break, which itself has dual meaning &endash; breaking the chocolate, breaking from activity. The dual meaning of 'The cream of Manchester' also works well, so that the endline is seen as clever. It is also highly synergetic with the executions, which are all about

creaminess and a 'Mancunian' attitude. 'I bet he drinks... Carling Black Label' is occasionally misattributed to Carlsberg (Probably) and vice versa, reflecting the very similar brand names, but on the whole, time has allowed accurate associations. In both cases the executions are seen to 'build up' to the endline, the endline being the resolution for the storyline. This serves to add impact, reward and amuse, thus ensuring good recall. Moreover, the brand name is a crucial part of the endline. Tango is also hard to misattribute, given that the name is part of the endline. Further, its power lies in the experiential promise of the line which relates to both product and brand attitude.

More Discussion

Orange's 'The future's bright' strapline has a good fit with the surreal quality of the advertising and the use of the colour orange, while the incongruity of the brand name within the sector aids memorability. 'Mum's gone to Iceland', with its play on the store name, works due to the benefit of having Iceland as a name. Finally 'It could be you' is intrinsically linked with the visual 'finger' mnemonic (supported by the logo), ensuring memorability.

Pringles is somewhat different, in that it is not so well-established a campaign, yet it is well recalled and associated with the brand. The factors helping this are the catchiness of the line, its rhythm and the fact it conveys a product truth -- the top 'pops', and Pringles are moreish.

In short, an onomatopoeic use of endline which works well.

The Line: Silent or Spoken?

These are some of the factors contributing to the 'performance' of these endlines. Another factor is that most of these slogans tend to be (or started off being), spoken, and the way in which they are spoken can further help registration. Carlsberg's 'Probably' and 'You'll know when you've been Tangoed' work in this way, with the voice adding a further dimension to the endline. This is not to say that endlines have to be spoken. In some instances this can seem like hitting the consumer over the head with a slogan. In other instances, a voice can add deeper meaning, weight, authority or attitude.


Nevertheless, the poor recall of Caffrey's 'Strong words softly spoken', despite high recall of the advertising, suggests that some endlines can fail to register if not spoken. In this instance a silent endline may have been thought appropriate to commercials based on mood and emotions. It could be argued that talking about words and speech (a rational domain) bore little relationship to the feelings (an emotional domain) generated by this campaign: the apparent synergy between the endline and creative is quite tenuous.

Poorly recalled endlines

And what of those endlines that were not so well-remembered? Needless to say, if the ads themselves are not well-remembered, neither are the endlines. Nevertheless, endlines for well-known campaigns can also not register. Budweiser's 'The genuine article', in the absence of a category reference, can lack meaning and be seen as a generic promise applying to any category. 'Targeted relief from pain', for Nurofen, also suffers from being too generic when divorced from the advertising. This is not to say a generic promise cannot be utilised in an endline, but these seem to register more strongly where the brand name, a clear brand device or occasionally 'structural branding' is incorporated as part of the endline (eg, 'Any time, any place, anywhere').

Another obstacle to good endline recall can be 'information

overload', whereby the executions are so full of other triggers to recall related to the brand proposition that the endline is 'swallowed up'. John Smith's use of Jack Dee, and the no gimmicks thought (combined with gimmicks) results in the 'No Nonsense' endline getting lost. This does not detract from the commercials, but it does appear that the slogan adds little to the advertising for consumers. The essence of the communication for the brand has been registered in other ways. Consequently, the endline operates purely as a sign-off rather than as a slogan or endline in the truer sense of the word (ie a phrase that delivers an USP or branding by resolving the executional storyline and giving it meaning, or acts as a memorable phrase that encapsulates the advertising idea). We would question the need for such 'sign-offs', which do not seem to add anything.

Strong Endlines

Strong endlines are those which can live divorced from the creative, yet carry with them the creative idea and an image of the brand.

This is reinforced by the way in which people, when confronted with the brand name, are unable to think of a slogan for the likes of John Smith's, Budweiser, Nurofen. Indeed, recall of a slogan, when given the brand name, is generally lower than the other way round, with notable


exceptions including Carlsberg and Hula Hoops. Nevertheless, there is considerable correlation between being shown a slogan and recalling the brand (or not) and being shown the brand and knowing the slogan (or not).

 We have focused here on some reasons as to how and why certain endlines work well, working well being assessed in this instance by memorability and correct brand association.

Why endlines?

However, this does not really address the issue as to whether endlines are desirable in themselves. Advertisers can believe an endline to be crucial. There is a desire to see the brand pithily summed up and encapsulated. But this can conflict with the agency creative's desire for freedom: trying to come up with ideas which fit the line can be too restricting. This raises some difficult issues: the role of advertising, the task for a given piece of advertising, and the thorny area of advertising effectiveness and its measurement.

We would suggest that advertising is at its most effective when it alters purchase intention and/or purchase behaviour to the benefit of the brand. At the risk of sounding simplistic, good advertising is well and fondly

remembered, and this can contribute to purchase intention and behaviour. A potent slogan or endline can be part of the way in which the advertising is stored. Moreover, at its mention, a host of motivating brand associations can be triggered. Nevertheless, there are other triggers to advertising communications or brand imagery, the pack and the name itself being key at point of purchase. Moreover, the endline can trigger a whole range of motivating brand associations. These might not necessarily relate, however, to the prime communication intent of the advertising.

If this is the case, is there a function of the endline outside the ad itself?

Campaign Memorability

We have seen that endlines are not essential to the memorability of a campaign, although they can add an extra dimension to the idea (in consumers' minds) and can stamp the idea home. For many consumers, however, the role of the endline is to aid memorability of the advertising, through reinforcement of the advertising message and/or creative idea, and to serve as a trigger for recall.

A key question is: 'how often are consumers seeing the endline (which can trigger the recall of brand imagery) divorced from the advertising?' It can usefully do this at point of purchase. Indeed, much of the value of the endline can lie here, and this has implications for use of the slogan on pack or point-of-sale material. Our research shows that for campaigns with strong endlines,


this could serve a useful purpose, linking the elements of the communications mix together at the point of sale.

  The other value of endlines is that they do get talked about, particularly by the young -- but perhaps no more than a catchy line from within the execution, for example 'By 'eck, it's gorgeous' or 'You're spoiling us', the latter being said with ironic reference to the Ferrero Rocher advertising. This brings us back to the issue of memorable catchphrases or slogans which are nevertheless deemed 'cheesy' by consumers, and are used with a sense of considerable irony in common parlance. What is the effect of this on the brand? True, the brand will be remembered, but the light in which it is remembered seems more questionable.


Straplines are not necessarily a hackneyed device, although some of them can seem clich¬d. Neither are they obviously useful selling tools unless used to strong effect at point of purchase. They serve to underpin a campaign, and it could be argued that changing a well-loved endline when moving a campaign on could have a detrimental effect on the brand. Endlines can, however, get tired unless fresh creative work is able to sustain their appeal. When endlines are relevant and have meaning for their audience, either in relation to target attitudes or to the product in question, they carry weight and keep the brand salient. If they fail in this respect they can seem clich¬d, dated and unnecessary.

 If an endline is to work, by which we mean that it is memorable, meaningful, believable and not clich¬d, there are several key factors which must be considered:

  • Will it appear slapped on? This will be the case when the endline lacks synergy with the creative idea or even with the product being advertised.
  • Is it too generic a line, when divorced from the content of the advertising or brand name? In this case it will not be memorable or meaningful.


  • Is it clever? There are many ways in which slogans or endlines can be seen as clever. In particular, phrases with dual meaning ('The Cream of Manchester'), onomatopoeic rhythm (Pringles), or challenging/ suggestive phrases (Castlemaine XXXX) seem to work well.
  • Does it tap into or relate to the target market's view of the world, either in relation to the product category, or in broader terms? Nike's 'Just do it' and Playstation's 'Never underestimate the power...' succeed at these levels. Nike, in particular, captures the spirit of a large section of its market, creating the impression the brand understands them and is behind them.
  • Is it believable? This will be a problem when the endline, taken literally, is seen to overclaim and is therefore rejected.
  • Will it work if it is not spoken? If it is spoken, will it be 'too much'?
  • Is it campaignable, or is it potentially too restrictive for the creative?

If satisfactory answers cannot be given to these questions, it may not be worth struggling to get 'any old endline', as it is likely to be irrelevant and unhelpful.

AdSlogans.com -- Wise Words/2


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