WISE WORDS -- A VARIETY OF ARTICLES ABOUT ADVERTISING SLOGANS

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brett Shevack
President
Wolf Group Integrated Communications

For more than 25 years, Brett has been one of the advertising industry–s strongest brand builders, first from the creative side and then as agency CEO.

He began his advertising career as an assistant art director at Benton & Bowles, but soon moved swiftly through the advertising ranks. At the age of 26 he joined Daniel & Charles and became the youngest creative director of any major ad agency in New York. In 1983, the agency opened up a subsidiary, LCF&S, with Brett as president and creative director.

Two years later he merged with another agency to form Calvillo, Shevack & Partners. Brett would rename the agency Partners & Shevack in 1988. Under his direction as CEO, the agency has grown rapidly over the years, attracting such notable clients as The Scotts Company, Pfizer, Dutch Boy Paint, Haagen-Dazs and Spiegel Catalog.

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AdSlogans.com -- Wise Words/7

From
Partners & Shevack/Wolf Shevack Inc.
comes
What's My Line?
Are advertising taglines
falling on deaf ears?


By Brett Shevack

CEO Partners & Shevack/
Wolf Shevack Inc.,
Chief Creative Officer, Wolf Group


Partners & Shevack/Wolf survey finds most advertising slogans fail to connect with consumers.

One of the ways we all try to 'brand' is with a tagline. We rack our brains trying to come up with the perfect set of memorable words for a brand to live by. Then we invest millions of dollars for years, sometimes even for decades.

The truth is, if 'Match the Tagline with the Brand' were a television gameshow, we advertising people could go on and win the vacation home of our dreams. But could the average consumer?

Answering this question was the goal of a national poll we ran last year. Our survey looked at consumer awareness of advertising slogans and jingles, and whether or not these punchy pieces of copy created any connection to the brand.

The results were a little startling. (See table below.)

The survey found that many of today's ad slogans are failing to register with consumers. Overall, 16 of the 19 lines tested were 'heard' or recognized by at least one-half of the survey respondents. However, a remarkably high number of consumers were unable to correctly identify which brand or product these taglines were touting.

The best taglines, as with the best advertising, should be inextricably linked with the brand. The brands that fared best seemed to share a similar pattern: incorporate the brand name in the slogan and promote them year after year.

Misidentification Problems

For example, insurer Allstate's "You're in good hands with Allstate" and their competitor's "Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there" continue to be identifiable and experience near universal recognition. One might conclude that if the lines were "Allstate: You're in good hands with us", or "State Farm: like a good neighbor, we're there", they would not have been as effective, even though the thought was the same.

The taglines tested are part of successful, long-running campaigns that have been backed by hundreds of millions of dollars. Also, their exposure has not been limited to just media advertising. The lines have been seen -- depending on the category -- on everything from counter cards to brochures, match books to packaging, and dealer posters to bumper stickers. And still they are often misidentified.

How many times have you heard someone say, "Did you see that great commercial for Coke?" and it turned out to be for Pepsi, or vice versa? The same is often true with taglines where the brand is totally separate from the line.

For instance, the automobile category found itself stuck in reverse when it came to being identified with its taglines.

The line "Like a rock" was recalled by an impressive nine out of ten respondents. But when asked what product this slogan identified, less than 40% were able to correctly say Chevy Trucks. Nissan fared worse as only 8% knew it was the originator of the ubiquitous "Enjoy the ride" themeline.

Poor Recognition

Surprisingly, BMW's long-running "The ultimate driving machine" experienced a not-so-smooth ride. Despite the fact that 60% were familiar with the slogan, only 11% knew it was the German auto maker's. Chrysler's "Engineered to be great cars" had nearly identical results.

BMW's result, given that within the industry "The ultimate driving machine" is one of the most well-known lines, is shocking. However, here again we are forced to recognize that most consumers do not work at agencies and are not as advertising-involved as we'd like them to be.

Other marketers who experienced this 'heard, but not associated' fate were Visa, GE and Burger King. Visa's line "It's everywhere you want to be," was 'heard' by 70% of respondents, but only 15% were able to make the connection between slogan and credit card company. And nearly nine out of ten respondents were familiar with "We bring good things to life," but only one-third knew


that General Electric was the bearer of such useful household items.

On the fast-food front, the varying successes of McDonald's and Burger King's slogans are sure to add more flame to the burger wars fire.

Burger King's "It just tastes better" clearly bested McDonald's "Did somebody say McDonald's?" line in terms of recognition, 79% to 54%. But when asked which company belonged to these taglines, only 14% correctly identified Burger King's, while 34% knew McDonald's. (Of course, we concealed the brand name in our tests if it was part of the line.)

The benchmark of any good advertising campaign, and slogan, is the lasting impression it has on the consumer. Incorporating the brand name in the logo helps achieve this. That's no doubt why marketers which feature their name in the taglines, like McDonald's and Allstate, did better than others in connecting with the consumer.

Generic Problems

The only three slogans that were not remembered by at least one-half of all respondents were three of the newest, yet more generic, lines that stand alone without a brand reference.

American Express' "Do more" (19%), Blockbuster's "Go home happy" (18%) and United Airlines' "Rising" (10%) were the least recognizable of all the lines tested.

So what are advertisers to do? Forget about taglines? Absolutely not. A great line can be worth its weight in gold. It can form the underpinning for the entire thrust of the advertising.

It can be a call to action, not just for the consumer, but

for the entire internal organization and sales force. The more a slogan -- as well as advertising -- is inextricably linked to the brand, the more effective it is.

The truth is, great advertising is the sum of its parts. A tagline is just one of them. And it often functions as the brand's core promise, rather than a pithy memorable phrase.

One seemingly obvious suggestion, illustrated by the results of the survey, is to incorporate the brand name in the line! All of the top-five brands, ranked by recall of the brand unaided, did. None of the bottom ten did. (See table.) Brilliant, huh?

Line

Brand

% Heard it

% Knew brand

You're in good hands with ----.

Allstate

97
84

Like a good neighbor ---- is there.

State Farm

92
61

---- gets the red out.

Visine

82
59

Fly the friendly skies of ----.

United Airlines

95
58

The incredible, edible----.

Egg

79
56

Like a rock.

Chevrolet Trucks

90
39

If it's gotta be clean, it's gotta be ----.

Tide

71
37

We bring good things to life.

General Electric

88
34

Did somebody say ----?

McDonald's

54
34

It's everywhere you want to be.

Visa

70
15

Solutions for a small planet.

IBM

52
15

It just tastes better.

Burger King

72
14

Something special in the air.

American Airlines

61
13

Engineered to be great cars.

Chrysler

65
11

The ultimate driving machine.

BMW

60
11

Enjoy the ride.

Nissan

59
8

Go home happy.

Blockbuster Video

18
4

Do more.

American Express

19
1

Rising

United Airlines

10
1

Survey Results -- USA 1999
Ranked by %
Knew Brand



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