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AdSlogans.com -- Wise Words/19

From the archives of

comes an investigation on

The End Of The End Line

Remember those classic endlines of the 70s, like ’refreshes the parts’ and ’Schhh. You know who’? In the summer of 1998, veterans told Harriet Green, the endline carried little weight with marketers and creatives. AdSlogans.com revisits the story.

Reproduced from Campaign magazine, June 12 1998, with the permission of the copyright owner, Haymarket Campaign Publications Ltd.

The End Of The End Line by Harriett Green

’Ello Tosh, got a Toshiba?’ ‘Vorsprung durch Technik.’ ‘Tell ’em about the honey, mummy.’ ‘The ultimate driving machine.’ ‘Naughty but nice.’ ‘For mash get Smash.’

Everybody remembers legendary endlines. The best ones are buried in our subconscious. They’ve entered the vernacular. But each of those crackers was devised long ago and new classics just aren’t being written any more.

Many practitioners believe the endline is effectively dead. During the 90s, the gloomy theory goes, advertising has chucked away its inheritance. Heineken ditched (but later tried to revive) the 15-year old legend ‘refreshes the parts’ in favour of ‘only Heineken can do this’.  Sekonda axed the ten-year-old ‘beware of expensive imitations’ in favour of ‘time is precious’. And more recently, Nike dropped ’just do it’ for the weaker ‘I can’.

Selling the family silver?
To Hamish Pringle, Saatchi & Saatchi’s marketing director [he’s now Director General of the UK’s Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) – ed.], it’s like selling the family silver. Pringle is reeling from the proposal by one of his former clients, Commercial Union, to dump ‘don’t make a drama out of a crisis’, following its move to a new agency. Pringle blames inexperienced marketers. “It makes me really angry when thirtysomething marketing directors change famous endlines. The best of these are incredibly important assets. Dropping them screws up the agency and eventually the brand.”

Gerry Moira, creative director at Publicis, agrees. “One of the great forgotten skills in advertising is consistency. We are not living through a vintage time with endlines. They don’t get time to become established. Agencies get bored with them and clients have a ’not invented here’ attitude.”

But it’s not all the fault of on-the-make marketers or dilettante agencies. Some gems of yesteryear have actually been banned. ‘Good food costs less at Sainsbury’s’ was disallowed by the Broadcast Advertising Clearance Centre. Its replacement? ‘Fresh food. Fresh ideas.’

Media fragmentation, too, has taken a toll. In the 70s, a single, 60-second spot in the middle of the Sweeney was enough to drive your line into the national consciousness. That’s why ‘Beanz Meanz Heinz’, ‘drink a pinta milka day’ or ‘Schhh. You know who’ remain vivid to an entire generation which was only seven years old the last time they ran.

Spending your way to recognition
Nowadays you need a whacking spend to register at all. ‘It’s good to talk’ may be the most recognisable endline of recent years - but that’s largely because BT has spent lavishly on getting it across. Yet the search for perfect lines continues. Andrew Cracknell, chairman and executive creative director of Ammirati Puris Lintas, explains: “Three things occupy more time in an agency than anything else - leaving cards, the location of the Christmas party and the endline. Whole campaigns have been held up because the line isn’t right. Good ideas are killed off in a corridor by middle management because the line isn’t right.”

Patrick Collister, Ogilvy & Mather’s executive creative director, confirms this. After the recent Guinness pitch, O&M eventually lost to Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO (and its unfashionably powerful line, ‘good things come to those who wait’). “There were awful fights about the endline,” says Collister. “They’re bloody difficult to do, and to sell internally.”

Why endlines?
Dave ‘ ’ello Tosh’ Trott, creative partner at Walsh Trott Chick Smith, spells out the endline’s function: “An endline is to deliver a USP or branding. If you love my commercial you shouldn’t be able to repeat to anyone else what it’s about without mentioning the name of the product and what the ad is saying. It is not there for mood, or tone of voice, or to attract a new generation of users. If you have a five-year idea, that’s your endline.”

Robert Campbell, creative partner at Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe, calls endlines ideas. “I don’t think they’re good if they’re just confectionery. They must mean something. They can be a useful centre of gravity for a campaign.” But that is not to say they need to be spoken. “If you look at Helen Mirren and Terence Stamp for Virgin UpperClass, the endline is obvious: ‘It’s a simple business decision.’ But it’s unwritten. We didn’t use it because it would be too in your face.”

Moira agrees: “Endlines are a very good place to start. It’s a very good discipline for writing TV scripts: you know how you are going to resolve it. But they are not essential.”

In fact, successful advertisers can manage without them. Renault’s long-running ‘Nicole and Papa’ campaign never carried a line, and Levi’s was considered too cool to bash consumers over the head with a motto.

Recently, Rover has scrapped the line in its TV commercials after four years of fiddling about. KMM’s ‘above all it’s a Rover’ became ‘relax’ when the account moved to APL. Cracknell believes that if you can’t come up with the perfect endline you shouldn’t reach for second best. “People feel naked without it (but) that’s just using up screen time or another blob at the bottom of the page.”

In the old days, according to Collister, there were two schools of advertising. One, spawned at Collett Dickenson Pearce, treated the endline as the idea, and “you then executed the hell out of it, like Heineken.” The other, favoured by BMP, was to start not with an endline but with strong, consistent visuals, ‘branded property in the advertising’. For instance, Hofmeister’s George the Bear or the Arkwright character for John Smith’s.

Two types of line
Similarly, there are two types of line. “One is the summation of the campaign, an advertising line like ‘for mash get Smash’.” The other is a “corporate positioning statement which runs everywhere - not just in advertising.”

It’s easier to make the first sort entertaining. “When the endline is just a description of your advertising, there is plenty of scope for wit and humour.”

Which is probably why most corporate endlines are far from fun. Some sound more like a rallying cry for staff than a call to consumers. Think of Tesco’s ‘every little helps’, British Airways’ ‘the world’s favourite airline’ or British Rail’s ‘we’re getting there’.

And a catchy, easily translatable endline can be invaluable in a pan-European campaign. Rainey Kelly dreamed up ‘quality is a right not a privilege’ for the Vauxhall Astra. Says Campbell: “It can be translated for 20 countries. It’s not a pun, it makes sense. Across markets it brings huge synchronicity. It called to order what could have been a Eurovision song contest disaster.” Ford, too, is working on a line for a pan-European campaign to describe ‘Fordness’.

So what makes a good endline? In endline heaven, weird is good as long as it addresses the issue. Says Cracknell: “The ones that stick out tend to be slogans written in the public language. There has to be rhythm or a rhyme or a quirkiness in the line that catches the ear.”

Hence the success of ‘it’s a lot less bovver than a hover’, ‘Vorsprung durch Technik’ and ‘Beanz Meanz Heinz’.

But Trott cautions against using rhymes for the sake of it. He devised  ‘ ‘ello Tosh’ to ram home the name of what was then a little-known brand, Toshiba. Repeating the name made it appear a credible competitor to Sony.

But “because it was successful,” he says, “everyone thought they needed lines that rhymed. So they came up with ‘scream for cream’ or ‘slam in the lamb’. But that didn’t work, because getting people to know the name of the product was not the issue for these products.”

Trott believes agencies have lost the knack of creating brilliant endlines: “People don’t start with an endline any more,’ he complains, “and that’s like driving a car backwards. You don’t see where you are going, you just lurch from one ad to the next. An endline is not the most important part of an ad, but it is the first part. And it’s the most important part of a five- or ten-year campaign.”

To illustrate his point, Trott identifies an ad created without a line: Vauxhall Astra’s ‘babies’ commercial. “I was with six people who saw it and four didn’t have a clue what it was for. The best you can say is that Tony Kaye made a really nice piece of film. But it’s not an ad.”

According to Trott, the dearth of endlines can be blamed on planners and young, prize-hungry creatives. “Planners care not about branding your product but understanding the market. They think they must do an ad the market likes. What hasn’t occurred to them is that we are in the process of selling products.”

Meanwhile, young creatives are more in love with awards than selling brands: “Everybody thinks endlines are old-fashioned and cheesy – that they’re something for the punters not for the Grosvenor House.”

  • Happiness is a cigar called Hamlet - Hamlet
  • Heineken refreshes the parts other beers cannot reach - Heineken
  • Beanz Meanz Heinz - Heinz Baked Beans
  • It’s a lot less bovver than a hover - Qualcast
  • The ultimate driving machine - BMW

  • You know when you’ve been tangoed - Orange Tango
  • Just do it - Nike
  • It ’s good to talk - BT
  • Australians wouldn ’t give a XXXX for any other lager - Castlemaine XXXX
  • Who would you most like to have a One 2 One with? - One 2 One

  • It talks your language - Renault Megane
  • Because I ’m worth it - L ’Oreal
  • Welcome to the world - Fanta
  • The airline for Europe - British Midland
  • More than just a bank - NatWest

  • An essential British company. Piping gas for you - Transco
  • A company from over here that’s also doing rather well over there - Hanson Trust
  • Together we make some alliance - Sun Alliance
  • For all our tomorrows - BP

No portion of this article may be copied, retransmitted, reposted, duplicated or otherwise used without the express written approval of the author.

AdSlogans.com -- Wise Words/19


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