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Recently, I came across what I think is the greatest corporate slogan ever… that of the American Cancer Association which sports the slogan, “The official sponsor of birthdays.”
Nice, right? Short. Sweet. Says it all. Makes you feel good. And manages to equate the work they do to battle something awful, cancer, with something great, living longer and celebrating birthdays. Sheer brilliance.
Lately, I’ve been paying attention to advertising slogans. It’s amazing, their power. Consider how, over the years, the U.S. National Pork Board got us to think of pork as “The Other White Meat,” even though, as I recently learned, the USDA actually considers pork to be red meat.
The concept behind that very successful campaign, of course, was to re-train American consumers to think of pork as being healthful, on par with chicken or fish, with the goal of increasing pork sales. Apparently the slogan was so successful, by early 2011, they no longer needed to convince consumers that pork was lean, but with sales still lagging behind chicken, the Board decided to retool their slogan and came up with “Pork. Be Inspired.”
The idea behind that slogan, according to Pork Board CEO, Chris Novak, was to grow domestic demand for pork by 10% through targeting current pork customers who, he says, “are our best prospects for tomorrow.” He is quoted in the Feb. 17th, 2011 Missouri Farmer Today as saying, “They [current customers] love our product. We want to capture their attention. We want to inspire them to learn more, to create a new emotional connection …”
Perhaps it will work. But personally, I tend to agree with The Dallas Observer, which in a March 4, 2011 blog suggested that the new slogan belongs “in the slop bucket.”
On the plus side, if their intention is indeed to engage current users, excite them with new ways to prepare pork, and get them to share their passion with fellow pork lovers, then the Pork Board actually has done an exceptional job with their www.PorkBeInspired.com website.
It’s easy to navigate and filled with interesting recipes. It’s easily searched by headings that include “kid friendly” and “heart healthy,” as well as by cooking method and meal type — including appetizer, breakfast/brunch, pasta or main meal, celebrations and tail-gating parties.
Once you’ve selected a recipe, with accompanying professional-quality photo, you can “PinIt.” or save it to a Recipe Box or Shopping List. There is even a page devoted to letting fans post and share their own recipes on “Pork Social”; and separately, a FaceBook site for even more social interaction.
The “PorkBeInspired” website even pays homage to their original slogan, with an entire page devoted to “The Other White Meat Brand®” — and, interestingly, notice where they place the registration mark.
Apparently they recognized the importance of their original slogan, which they indicate was ranked in the year 2000 as being “the fifth most memorable promotional tagline in the history of contemporary advertising.”
And, before I leave the topic of “The other white meat” entirely, just as an aside, two more fun facts about pork. First, did you know that pork butt, despite its name, is actually a cut of meat taken from the upper part of the pig’s shoulder?
And second, that funds to pay for the new slogan come from a levy known as the Pork Checkoff. Never heard of it? Me neither. Turns out, the USDA collects a fee from pork farmers and importers equal to 40 cents on every $100 in pork market value, roughly equivalent to $50 million a year. Those fees are returned to the Pork Board, and a portion goes towards their marketing and advertising efforts. (Similar fees are also taxed on milk, soy and beef producers.) But, enough about pig.
Great slogans should be relatively short, should distinguish your unique selling proposition to set you apart from the competition, should make you want to buy or use their product, and should be memorable such that, over time, the slogan immediately brings to mind your company, product or service.
Unfortunately, in order to be short and stand the test of time, many slogans, today, have become completely ambiguous and leave you scratching your head wondering what they actually mean.
Not that it rates anywhere near the designation of a great slogan, but about a dozen years ago, the scientific instruments company I worked for was in need of a new slogan. We had been using, “Where Quality and Innovation Have Become Tradition,” but wanted something with a bit more snap. In the new world of two and three word slogans, it was simply too long.
The challenge was to get across our brand proposition in just a few words, despite the fact that we offered ten distinct product lines, from lab shakers to air samplers to freezers. The solution? We were the world leader in biological shakers, and at least in the top one or two position worldwide for benchtop research fermentors. In other words, our best-known and most popular products were used for culturing cells.
And, we had a proud heritage of introducing a long line of industry firsts, from waterbath and air incubated shakers to the first digital shakers; from the first commercially-available fermentor to the first computer-controlled fermentor and PC-controlled fermentors to the first modular production-scale systems; not to mention introducing the automated petri-dish filler, slit-to-agar microbial air sampler and more.
The slogan I came up with combined those two distinguishing concepts into one saying: “A culture of innovation.” Today I see those words used pretty much everywhere to describe a wide variety of topics, but as it relates specifically to New Brunswick Scientific’s products, I still think it’s pretty clever … but what do you think?
And now, for some slogans that are truly great, here are a few you’ll likely recall, mostly from the world of consumer products, and listed in no particular order:
Disneyland – The happiest place on earth
Skittles – Taste the rainbow
M&Ms – Melts in your mouth, not in your hand
Kentucky Fried Chicken – Finger lickin’ good
Tide – Tide’s in. Dirt’s out.
Seatbelts – Click it or ticket. (Okay, this is more of an ad campaign, but is still quite good for its simplicity and memorability.)
Walmart – Save money. Live better.
Target – Expect more. Pay less.
PlayStation – Live in your world. Play in ours.
Bounty – The quicker picker upper
Avis. We try harder
American Express – Don’t leave home without it
BMW – The ultimate driving machine
HBO – It’s Not TV, It’s HBO
I could go on, but let’s end here and I’ll devote Slogans Part II to some awful slogans and what makes them that way.
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Some Final Notes
Suffice it to say that any corporate names or slogans mentioned here are registered trademarks or service marks of their respective organizations. Thanks to Flickr and Chealion for the photo of Birthday Candles. And to Flickr and Clobby for the pork store image.
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