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|SHOULD WE CALL YOU NOW?
As a copywriter for N.W. Ayer, Earl created
"Be All You Can Be" for the
US Army. It was recently voted the second
greatest jingle in the history of advertising
by Advertising Age Magazine, placing ahead
of "It's the real thing," and
"See the USA in your Chevrolet,"
Earl has won many awards for his work
including Two One Show Gold Pencils, and
Two One Show Silver Pencils. As well as
Seven First-Place awards from other award
He's been a Copywriter at CBS, Copywriter
at DDB Group Two, Senior Copywriter at
N.W.Ayer, Senior Vice President Associate
Creative Director at Scali McCabe Sloves,
Copy Supervisor at Lowe & Partners,
Co-Group Head at Ogilvy, London, and Group
Head at Euro RSCG Ball Partnership, Singapore.
He still works as
a consultant, and has an internet business
you have an article that
belongs in Wise Words, contact
Timothy R V Foster in London
on 44 (0)208 763 2225
or fax him on 44 (0) 208 763 2011
|The Spearhead of Branding.
is the spearhead of branding. The one element of an
ad that separates a great brand from a wannabe. Accounts
may live or die in the marketplace because of it. What's
more, if the stars align properly your great grandchildren
may see or hear it generations from now. And the opportunity
to create it, I believe, makes it the greatest assignment
you can have as a creative person.
What is this miraculous thing I'm talking about? You may
call it a tag line, or a slogan, or an end line. I prefer
Too often, however, the theme line never gets a chance to
perform its magic: many agencies these days wait until the
eleventh hour to work on a theme line. It really then becomes
a tag line -- something added at the last minute. A bunch
of general words that don't reflect the essence of the creative,
or the brand.
course, there are lots of reasons why a theme line may not
get the attention it deserves. One being creative teams
who have to spend all their time competing with each other
in brain-draining gang bangs. Or the feeling that a theme
line is just too bloody hard to think about. A different
animal from writing and art direction.
As many copywriters have discovered, trying to sum up the
essence of a brand, or their new creative campaign, in five
words or less -- often hurts the brain. Somehow dreams of
exciting locations and working with top directors are more
fun to think about.
the major problem, I believe, why clients are not getting
the theme lines they deserve, and why creating theme lines
has become such a chore, is the lack of respect for the
process of creating theme lines to begin with.
That problem begins with advertising professionals outside
of the creative department who often try to reduce the theme
line to a science.
It's why so many theme lines sound like marketing statements.
And why so many theme lines that tested well in focus groups
fail in the marketplace.
Perhaps William Bernbach, the founder of Doyle Dane Bernbach,
said it best: advertising is an art not a science.
as I see it, the creative department is under assault these
days. Like the general population, everyone at the agency,
particularly planners, think they're just as creative as
the creative department. Meaning their way of doing things
is the answer.
The idea that a person called an art director or copywriter
can be endowed with a special gift for communicating the
essence of a brand in a unique way is going by the wayside.
people are left to feel that they are just around to execute
the thinking of superior human beings like account people,
planners, and focus group participants. So why not spend
all their energies creating award-winning television commercials.
What's really the incentive to come up with a great theme
line? How many of us know the name of an art director or
copywriter who's created a great theme line?
For what it's worth, a great theme line doesn't come out
of science, it comes out of a healthy ego. And it's damn
hard to come up with in the first place.
It's like the heavy-weight championship: all sorts of variables
enter the picture to achieve that goal, but none is more
important than the confidence to know that it can be done.
A creative who thinks they're just a cog in the wheel will
not come up with anything worth a damn. Creatives who are
gifted, comfortable with the idea of creating a theme line,
and know that others believe in them are always, always,
the people you can depend on.
having a gifted individual, or individuals, in your creative
department who can create a great theme line, you have to
have a creative head that can recognize a great theme line
when he or she sees it. And this creative head has to have
enough power to ram it past the left-side-of-the-brain thinkers
at your agency.
However, the ability to recognize a great theme line when
it's just a few words on a crumpled piece of tissue paper
is a rare gift indeed, and why this individual should be
the highest paid person at your agency. At the same time
the person who created it must KNOW that it is great and
fight for it.
Generally, the theme line is often the most misunderstood
creation in the art of advertising. A great theme line can't
be forced. It really comes out of the muse. And in the end
only the public decides whether it's a memorable line or
where does that leave the average agency with the average
creative department: Out in the cold unfortunately although
Timothy R V Foster's left-brained Sloganalysis® tool
may help an agency come up with a theme line that won't
embarrass them at the presentation.
Or it may help them create an effective theme line much
like British Airways' The World's Favourite Airline. Favourite
being a wonderful way to express the fact that more BA planes
land in more different places around the world daily than
any other airline. It was effective because it conveyed
the feeling of a product difference. Unlike something like
The Most Wonderful Apple Pie.
you can be responsible for a long-lasting theme line without
intending it: Years ago I wrote a program ad to announce
CBS Broadcast's participation in the Kentucky Derby. A quarter-of-a-century
later Churchill Downs is still using the headline I wrote,with
a slight change, as their theme line: The World's Greatest
My headline said, The World's Most Exciting Two Minutes
in the program ad. I remember staying up most of the night
at CBS Broadcast trying to figure out a different way to
say Kentucky Derby. At around one in the morning I noticed
in an almanac that most of their races finished at around
two minutes. And that's how I came up with the observation.
presentations, clients are often very interested in theme
lines. Which is why if you're not sure of a theme line,
but the rest of the creative is outstanding, you should
put it on a separate presentation board and leave it off
the print and TV.
That way it becomes open to discussion. Include a few other
lines as well. This takes the pressure off, which is the
best moment for a great theme line to emerge.
As far as doing your best to get a great line I would suggest
that copywriters and art directors jot down lines throughout
the assignment&emdash;a few everyday, and then forget
about the lines until the end of the week. This allows your
muse to go to work. Just have fun writing down lines, don't
be too conscious about it. And don't show these lines to
the end of the week, start improving the lines you've written
When a fresh line pops in, add it to the list. Because it's
fresh, the feeling will be too. It's when you feel you have
total control over the situation that the best lines will
pop up. The list is just a means to an end. A way to make
you feel 'safe' until you really come up with something
you think is great.
And how will you know it's great? Turn to this site a few
years from now. If it's not here you know the answer.
Themeline That Changed The U S Army
was winter 1980. The auditorium at N.W. Ayer hushed in anticipation
as General Max Thurman approached center stage. Thurman
had been recently promoted to his new assignment to shake
up Recruiting Command, and was one of the most important
Generals in the United States Army.
Thurman was immaculate looking in his sharply creased uniform.
His mind, however, was sharper still.
He told us about the new Army. What its needs would be.
And how crucial it was to recruit a new kind of volunteer.
I knew that to mean a more educated young person, one who
generally joined the Air Force. Difficult enough, but the
Army would need greater numbers as well. The task at hand
would be the solution that changed the United States Army?
Five words: Be All You Can Be.
Be All You Can Be would be the Army's theme line for 20
years. But little could I have imagined sitting in the audience
that day at N.W. Ayer, that those very words that I had
created would also be chiseled on the headstone of General
Max Thurman, buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
AdSlogans.com -- Wise