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Top 10 Effective and Ineffective Advertising Slogans

My only frame of reference for how advertisers come up with slogans is from the countless hours of Mad Men that I’ve watched. With Don yelling at Peggy and her team, they don’t make it look easy (even if they do so while drinking aged scotch), so I can’t imagine being in charge of creating the next “Just Do It” or “A Diamond is Forever” campaign!

Some advertisers I’ll mention here have gone above and beyond clever slogans (some of them even created jingles to go along with them). Others deserve a second chance to get it right because their first effort wasn’t exactly right on mark. We’ll focus on the positive before we get to the latter group.

Who got it right:

Verizon: “Can You Hear Me Now? Good!”

"Yes! I can hear you now!"

I love this slogan because it’s easy to remember and it’s so basic and simple that it can’t be interpreted any other way. It’s also something that I’m sure we’ve all said while we’re moving to a place with better cell phone reception. Verizon summed up exactly what they can do for their customers: provide better reception. So even if you have to ask the person who called you if he/she can hear you now, you’ll know the answer.

Visa: “It’s Everywhere You Want to Be.”

In today’s world, it seems impossible to go anywhere without having your credit card work. Visa reassures their customers that no matter where they go, they’ll still be able to enjoy it to the fullest without worrying about cash. It follows the KISS principle perfectly (Keep It Simple, Stupid) and scores a 10 out 10 from me.

L’Oreal: “Because We’re Worth It.”

If beer commercials take 30 seconds to sum up what men are thinking, then L’Oreal has done the same for women. They’ve changed it a few times in the past; it used to be “Because you’re worth it.” However, they have now landed on “Because we’re worth it,” which seems to create a stronger involvement from consumers. I’m not sure if this slogan still packs the same punch as it did when they first starting using it, but I still love hearing it. A little positive affirmation never hurt anyone!

"Mmmm, mmm, yum!"

Pillsbury: “Nothin’ Says Lovin’ Like Something from the Oven.”

Who doesn’t love the smell of bread, pie, cookies, or cake baking in the oven? That same thought must have been what crossed advertisers’ minds when they came up with this slogan for Pillsbury. Bake a little love for your sweetheart, because nobody bakes something for someone they despise (unless they’ve got ulterior motives).

Who missed the mark:

AT&T: “Reach Out and Touch Someone.”

"Are you there?"

Alright, I understand what AT&T was trying to say, but it didn’t come across that way at all in this slogan. By reaching out (by calling someone), you’re able to touch them emotionally and reconnect with them. I personally didn’t read it that way when I first saw it. Instead, I imagine a hand reaching out through a telephone and eerily touching the person on the other line. It sounds more like a plot for a horror movie than a nice and wholesome telephone company’s slogan!

US Cellular: “Believe in Something Better.”

If this were a slogan for a different product, then I’d say it was uplifting and inspirational. But it’s a cell phone company. Come on, you’re not exactly saving the environment or creating a better world for today’s children! This slogan sounds like a better fit for a renewable energy company or some other eco-friendly company. Unfortunately, it’s sort of wasted in this case.

Frito-Lay: “Take a Cheetos Break with Cheetos.”

This isn’t a bad slogan. In fact I liked it because they tied in with a contest for people to literally “take a break with Cheetos.” So why did it miss the mark? My only complaint, and the thing that keeps it from being a great slogan, is the “with Cheetos” part. Seriously? What else are we going to take a Cheetos break with? Cheez-Its? Pringles? Goldfish? I’m not sure if they’re insulting our intelligence or just trying to drop their name as many times as possible in six words.

Exxon Mobil: “We’re Exxon, We Do It Right.”

While I applaud Exxon’s efforts to revitalize the fuel industry by doing things right, I think their somewhat vague slogan could have been more creative. What exactly are they doing right? Safer drilling techniques? More efficient transportation? They could highlight one of these aspects and really market that to stand out from their competitors.

Here lies Garry the Grub: 2011-2011

Raid: “It Kills Bugs Dead.”

I don’t know about you, but when I hear the word “kill” I pretty much assume that whatever it is will end up dead. Repetition can be clever if it’s executed properly, but it misses the mark here. This might be pessimistic of me, I know, but the extra clarification in this slogan is not needed. “It Kills Bugs” (period) would’ve done the trick and I would still trust your product.

The only time I’ve ever had to create a slogan was for an advertising class in college. It wasn’t easy, so I can appreciate the amount of hard work that these teams did in creating them. With a few minor tweaks I think all of them could’ve hit a bull’s eye by being effective slogans!

Have you recently heard a great slogan that you really liked? What about one that you didn’t like? Sound off below!



Amy Swanson

Amy is one of Quality Logo Products’ content developers and social media coordinators. She is a self-professed newspaper nerd and thoroughly enjoys reading business and financial news and having impromptu discussions about it. Oh yeah, she’s “one of those” people! A true Midwestern girl by nature, she loves riding her bike, photography, and the Chicago Cubs. You can also connect with Amy on

Comments

  1. Eric

    Hey…even Don Draper misses the mark, here, in an abbreviated version of one of his less-than-brilliant pitches for a slogan:

    LIFE Cereal Execs: So, Don, what’dya got?

    DRAPER: “Eat Life by the bowlful!”

    LIFE Cereal Execs: ???

    DRAPER: But…the child…growing older…parents…sad to see their child grow up…compared to the scale and size of the almost-comically-large bowl and spoon! Eh? Eh? EH?!?!?

    LIFE Cereal Execs: …

    Time to take a Cheetos break with some Cheez-Its.

    • amy

      I’d forgotten that episode, it was so weird to see Don failing at something when every other episode showed what a genius he was in the boardroom.

      I have no words for Cheeto’s slogan, just a slow head shake in their direction.

  2. Jeff

    I agree with everything except the last one, “It kills bugs dead.” I personally liked it because it felt tongue-in-cheek. Like they knew it was redundant, and that was the fun. Like “F YEAH I killed it dead!”

    Sometimes I enjoy some redundancy.
    Also, Sometimes I enjoy some redundancy.

    • amy

      Hahaha, I hadn’t thought of it that way but I guess that works too. Good point Jeff!

  3. Mandy Kilinskis

    This is what I learned today: Frito-Lay, making slogans for SEO purposes only. But at least it was reinforced that I can, in fact, take a Cheetos break with Cheetos.

    I’d have to say that one of the most effective slogans I have ever heard is Capital One’s “What in your wallet?” I say this because 1) it drives home the point about how Capital One is (allegedly) great and 2) it was literally the only slogan I could think of off the top of my head.

    Great post, Amy!

    • amy

      Maybe that’s why they chose that slogan Mandy, it’s the best I’ve heard for reasoning LOL.

      I forgot about Capital One’s slogan. But you’re completely right, it’s easy to remember and you know it’s for Capital One. It’s also a little bit more humorous than the other credit card companies slogans (Visa, Discovery, AMEX, etc.). Excellent addition, thanks Mandy :)

  4. Bret Bonnet

    I kind of like the US Cellular tag line: “Believe in Something Better.”

    They are a small fish in a big pond that is DESPERATELY trying to stand out. I applaud there efforts despite how “second class” there marketing attempts may appear to be.

    Pillsbury needs to bring back the Pillsbury Dough Boy or ELSE!

    WAHOOO!!!!

    • amy

      I completely agree! Poppin’ Fresh needs more face time! I’m not sure if he falls into a “character” category that makes it iffy for marketers to use to advertise to kids. Lord knows those toaster strudels are delicious, but probably not nutritional LOL

  5. Jill Tooley

    I’ve always thought Verizon’s “Can you hear me now?” slogan was clever. It’s simple, memorable, and as you mentioned – instantly recognizable with the brand. But it’s also been really overused in the past few years, so I can understand how people wouldn’t like it.

    For some reason this blog reminded me of Dunder Mifflin slogans! First, “Limitless paper in a paperless world” (which I thought was cute but seriously lacking) and “Dunder Mifflin: the people-person paper people” (which was super awesome, especially with the jingle that Darryl, Kelly, Andy, and Creed did). I suppose I could relate anything back to that show, though. :)

    P.S. The Pillsbury Dough Boy is where it’s at! Hoo-hoo!

    • amy

      I can understand people’s annoyances with Verizon’s slogan since it’s been parodied so many times and has been used for several years.

      That episode with the jingle was awesome!
      Darryl: “What’s rap?”
      Micheal: “I’ll make you mix tape.”
      Darryl: “Oh, goody!”

      Hahahaha, great episode! I love that show so anything that you can relate back to it is a-okay in my book Jill :)

  6. Amanda

    Great list of slogans Amy! I’ve never heard of 3 of them: Pillsbury, AT&T, and Exxon….and 2/3 of those are on your “Who missed the mark” list….so I’d say you hit the nail on the head here! The ones you list as “Who got it right” are all but one, slogans I’ve heard and remembered through the years. They’re simple, but catchy. Great idea for a blog post! =)

    • amy

      Thanks Amanda :) You can’t go wrong with simple but catchy slogans, they stick with people a lot longer than you’d think

  7. Joseph Giorgi

    I think I’m with Jeff on this one. I hadn’t heard Raid’s slogan until I read your post, but I’ve got to admit: I like it. It has a really memorable over-the-topness about it. Almost as if the execs didn’t give a crap about how professional it sounded — and I kind of admire that.

    Excellent stuff, Amy! :)

    Side note: one of my favorite slogans (though I think the company abandoned it a few years ago) was Sony’s: “Live in your world, play in ours.” I always thought that was a very clever line. Haven’t heard it in a while though.

    • amy

      I remember that slogan too! It perfectly summed up what Sony was all about, creating another world for people to play in with their brands and products. Great addition Joe!

  8. Jack Strassner

    I’ve got one for you… American Airlines “We Know Why You Fly” I find that rather offensive to tell you the truth. In all of my 67 years I have never known anyone who has been able to read my mind or has been able to tell me what my true motives for doing anything are! My fiance’ worked and retired from this horrible company so I guess that is why it might have made me a little biased..
    I also found the Raid slogan to be ridiculous.. If something is killed, it goes without saying that it is Dead! But than again maybe I am missing something… kind of like Hot Water Heater.. Nothing like heating hot water, right?

    • Jill Tooley

      That’s a good one, Jack! As far as I know, American Airlines doesn’t know why I fly, either. It’s a bit pretentious!

      The Raid slogan is one that’s always bothered me…but maybe it’s because I’ve been trained to spot redundancies like that. I know it’s supposed to be redundant, in a way, because they were trying to go for a clever angle. However, to me it sticks out like a sore thumb!

      Your “hot water heater” example reminds me of something my friends say all the time: “ATM machine.” So…it’s an Automatic Teller Machine (machine)? ;)

      Thanks for stopping by to comment! Come back anytime!

  9. Write Me a Jingle

    One of my favorite advertising slogans has to be the classic “everything goes better with Coke”, and it just happens to be a very memorable jingle! Actually, the Pillsbury tag line you listed here was one of the most well-known jingles from the 50’s. On our top ten list of 50’s jingles, I think you could probably find a few more great advertising slogans: http://writemeajingle.com/top-10-tv-jingles-from-the-1950s/

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