Top 10 Effective and Ineffective Advertising Slogans
Slogans are usually the last message a business sends to their customers. Whether it is said in a booming voice at the end of a commercial or printed on promotional products, it’s the final thought that sticks in a person’s mind.
The best slogans are short, catchy, and memorable. They infuse personality into a brand and are relevant in pop culture. Great slogans are used in everyday conversation, inspire memes, and stand the test of time.
Of course, for every rose there’s a thorn. Some companies went for it with their creative ideas and ended up falling flat on their faces. Still, you have to respect their willingness to try, even if it didn’t quite work out.
Without further ado, here are the top 10 best and worst advertising slogans!
Who Got it Right
Finding the magic formula for a quality advertising slogan is no easy feat, but a few notable brands were able to strike gold. From cell phone providers to coffee brands, take a look at some of the companies that found success with their catchy slogans!
#1 Verizon: “Can You Hear Me Now?”
In the grand scheme of things, Verizon Wireless is a pretty new company. They officially opened their doors in June 2000 as the result of one of the largest mergers in U.S. business history.
The iconic “Can You Hear Me Now?” slogan was delivered by Paul Marcarelli in a commercial from 2009. Since then, the Verizon brand has evolved and Marcarelli ironically went on to become the spokesperson for Sprint.
The slogan works because it is cheeky and simple. The implication is that you can go to a remote desert, on top of a mountain, or underwater in a submarine and still have cell phone service. Plus, it speaks directly to the customer. Who hasn’t heard static on the other line and asked this exact question?
#2 American Express: “Don’t Leave Home Without It.”
American Express has a long history. The original company was founded in New York in 1950. However, it was over 100 years later that the classic green charge card was first introduced.
Their “Don’t Leave Home Without It” campaign was first introduced in the mid-70s and lasted until the late 90s. The commercial starred Karl Malden, a popular actor from the show “The Streets of San Francisco.”
This slogan speaks to a universal truth. Before we leave home, we make sure we have our keys, cell phones, and credit cards. American Express offers us a direct reminder to make sure we have all our ducks in a row
#3 L’Oreal: “Because You’re Worth It.”
People have been fascinated with the definition of beauty since the beginning of time. L’Oreal, however, didn’t come onto the scene until right before World War 1. They started relatively small, but eventually went on to become a leader in the cosmetics industry.
Before the slogan was introduced in 1971, women didn’t have much say in advertisements. A 23-year-old female copywriter came up with the concept in an effort to give women more of a voice. Today, L’Oreal has a massive fan base with many famous ambassadors including Jane Fonda, Eva Longoria, and Julianne Moore, to name a few.
Building our self-esteem is a lifelong journey, and people are often hesitant to splurge on luxury items. L’Oreal’s slogan is successful because it justifies going through with treating yourself to something nice. After all, you deserve to feel and look your best!
#4 Uber: “Everyone’s Private Driver.”
Travis Kalanick built one of the most valuable startup companies of all time. In 2011, he introduced UberCab in San Francisco and the world never looked back. The concept behind Uber is simple: Everyday people work as taxi cab drivers and bring passengers wherever they need to go.
Uber’s mission is to go to every major city around the world with their transportation system. Their slogan matches this thought process with the all-encompassing use of “everyone.” From Chicago to New York, this cab service wants to offer everyone a personalized experience.
Who doesn’t want to feel like they’re being driven around by a personal chauffeur? Most of us can’t afford such a luxury, but we can pretend when we call for an Uber! The slogan appeals to our strong desire to enjoy a rich and famous lifestyle.
#5 Burger King: “Have It Your Way.”
When it comes to delicious burgers, it’s best to keep it in the family. At least that’s how Burger King founders Keith Kramer and his uncle-in-law Matthew Burns felt when they opened their first restaurant in 1953.
The “Have It Your Way” campaign was created twenty years later. This slogan was an immediate response to McDonald’s who was known for being inflexible with their menu items. In 2014, Burger King completely changed things up with their new slogan, “Be Your Way.”
The customer is always right, especially when it comes to their fast food. Burger King recognized this well-known marketing rule and proudly stood behind it with their slogan. Although “Be Your Way” isn’t nearly as cool, it still supports the same idea.
#6 Mountain Dew: “Do the Dew.”
A little known fact about Mountain Dew: Its name is actually a slang term for moonshine. In fact, the creators Brothers Barney and Ally Hartman originally bottled the lemon-lime soda as a whiskey chaser in Tennessee. Today, it’s a favorite among video gamers and extreme athletes alike.
“Do the Dew” was introduced by Pepsi in 1992 and had an unexpected advertising impact. Not only did the soda benefit from an increase in sales, but sports marketing changed as well. Mountain Dew has worked with skateboarders and BMX to create feature-length films promoting both their brand and action sports.
Mountain Dew’s slogan is successful because it encourages action. After all, you just had a ton of caffeine; you’re not likely to sit idle for too long. There is no wrong way to “Do the Dew” as long as you’re drinking Mountain Dew and keeping busy.
#7 Pringles: “Once You Pop, You Can’t Stop.”
These crunchy potato chips are available today in a variety of bold flavors. When they started in 1853, however, they were simple potato and rice flour snacks. American chef George Speck was dissatisfied with a plate of French fries at a diner and was inspired to create a thinner alternative.
This iconic slogan was first used in Pringles commercials from the 90s. It was an extremely effective campaign that got the public’s attention. In fact, one of their ads featured a young Brad Pitt before he made it big as a Hollywood heartthrob.
At the core, “Once You Pop, You Can’t Stop” hits close to home. No truer words have been spoken when it comes to potato chips. It’s almost impossible to stay in control and only eat a handful. Pringles recognized this truth, encouraging customers to eat the entire container.
#9 Bounty: “The Quicker Picker Upper.”
In 1965, Proctor & Gamble noticed a growing demand for quality paper towels. They got to work developing something that was both durable and soft, and thus, Bounty paper towels were born!
Bounty has been “The Quicker Picker Upper” for decades. Over the years they’ve tried out other slogans, but nothing has stuck quite as much as their original slogan. The earliest commercials featured Rosie, a fictional diner employee who used the paper towels to clean up after her customers many spills.
The slogan is successful because it’s both catchy and accurate. If you have a mess, this product will help you clean it in a jiffy. People don’t want to waste too much time trying to soak up a spill. That’s why they need paper towels with fast absorbency like Bounty!
#9 Energizer: “It Keeps Going, and Going, and Going…”
Energizer began with the first dry cell battery in the 1890s. W.H. Lawrence created this innovative power supply and sold it to everyday consumers. From there, the company continued to build their brand in bold ways.
You can’t think of Energizer’s iconic slogan without picturing the vibrant pink bunny holding the drum. The lovable mascot was first introduced in 1988 in a commercial mocking their competitor. Duracell used tiny bunnies in one of their early commercials, but Energizer’s giant rabbit obviously reigns supreme.
The slogan appears to never end with the use of ellipses at the end. It’s the perfect metaphor for batteries, which are used to power essentials like our flashlights and television remotes. You can always trust Energizer to come through when you need them.
#10 Folgers: “The Best Part of Waking Up is Folgers in Your Cup.”
At the ripe age of 14, James Folger traveled to San Francisco in search of gold. Instead, he stumbled into the spice industry and eventually launched his own company, J.A. Folger & Co. He tested coffee beans in-house and discovered mountain-grown had the best flavor.
Singer and songwriter Leslie Pearl penned the original slogan in 1984 and it was an instant sensation. Renowned musicians like Aretha Franklin have even sung the catchy jingle. The brand continues to use “The Best Part of Waking Up is Folgers in Your Cup” in their commercials and ads. It’s proof that a classic never goes out of style!
Let this be evidence that you can never go wrong with a good rhyme! It also doesn’t hurt to somehow squeeze your brand name into the catchy riff. This slogan has been a favorite for years and is recognized by decaf and caffeine enthusiasts alike!
Who Missed the Mark
When it comes to marketing, you don’t know if something will work until you try it. These amazing companies went for broke and created slogans that unfortunately fell a bit short. With some creepy and others downright confusing, take a look at some of the worst slogans of all time!
#1 AT&T: “Reach Out and Touch Someone.”
AT&T has roots that stretch back all the way to 1875 with Alexander Graham Bell’s invention of the telephone. In the next 100 years, the company emerged as a leader in the telecommunications industry. Even today, they continue to grow and push boundaries.
Despite their greatness, AT&T had a mishap in their marketing with “Reach Out and Touch Someone.” The slogan was created in 1979 by ad agency N.W. Ayer and was meant to evoke a feeling of connection. Unfortunately, that message doesn’t quite come across.
It’s considered one of the most iconic slogans of all, but that doesn’t excuse the creepy factor. While the sentiment behind their campaign is heartfelt, it doesn’t quite translate in practice. Clearly, “Reach Out and Emotionally Touch Someone” doesn’t have the same ring to it.
#2 Under Armour: “I Will.”
In 1996, 23-year-old Kevin Plank was just another guy on the football field. That is until he had an idea that completely changed the locker room forever. Rather than having to change sweat-soaked t-shirts, athletes could wear moisture-wicking compressive gear to stay warm without the extra weight.
There is a lot of competition in the world of athletic apparel. As such, Under Armour needed to do something to stand apart. Their “I Will” slogan launched in 2013, but it definitely hasn’t made much of an impact. At least they had pretty fantastic athletes like boxer Canelo Alvarez and tennis pro Sloane Stephens in their campaigns.
Under Armour’s slogan lacks any kind of definitive conclusion. I will… do what? Run an extra mile? Stop exercising? Buy products from Nike? There’s a little too much room for interpretation. Plus, it reeks of “Just Do It” simplicity without the same jolting call to action.
#3 Victoria’s Secret: “A Body for Every Body.”
Victoria’s Secret first opened their doors in 1977. As the story goes, Roy Raymond wanted to buy his wife sexy lingerie, but thought it looked suspicious to shop for women’s underwear. His idea was to make the process more exciting and comfortable for men.
Even this lingerie juggernaut isn’t immune to marketing misfires. Following backlash from their “Perfect Body” campaign, Victoria’s Secret changed up their slogan to “A Body for Every Body.” However, they kept the original photo of the long-limbed models. In doing so, they completely misread the point of the public’s reaction.
The perfect body is an unachievable standard, and people rightfully pushed back against this harmful mentality. Still, “A Body for Every Body” doesn’t make sense and didn’t do much to squash negative self-perception. Victoria’s Secret is a wonderful brand with a lot of pop culture influence. Their slogan should reflect the world we live in and send the right message.
#4 Long John Silver’s: “We Speak Fish.”
Jim Patterson returned from a vacation where he enjoyed nothing but fantastic fish. His thought was to bring that tasty seafood from the coast to every city across the country. By 1969, he opened his very first Long John Silver’s restaurant.
Just because Patterson had some delicious fish on vacation doesn’t mean the company suddenly can communicate with flounder. Long John Silver’s rolled out their “We Speak Fish” slogan and a new logo in 2011. The reason behind the rebrand was to prepare for Lent, which is the fast food chain’s busiest time of the year.
If you imagined Aquaman when you heard this slogan, we can’t really blame you. It’s not particularly catchy or memorable, plus it’s just a ridiculous statement. Long John Silver’s is better off appealing to their customers in a less fishy way.
#5 Dr. Pepper Ten: “It’s Not for Women.”
The world has been a pepper since the late 1880s. The delicious soft drink was first introduced in Waco, Texas by a young pharmacist named Charles Alderton. His recipe was extremely popular with customers at Morrison’s Old Corner Drug Store.
Dr. Pepper is an all-American soda with a lot of different flavor variations. They made a major mistake with their “It’s Not for Women” slogan for Dr. Pepper Ten. The ad launched in 2011, and to make matters even worse, a macho man told women to “keep the romantic comedies and lady drinks.” Yikes.
There is obviously a lot wrong with this slogan. First, it’s assuming that only women want or need diet drinks. Second, it suggests that women can’t buy Dr. Pepper Ten. Finally, it is strongly implied that men don’t drink diet drinks at all. You know what they say about making assumptions…
#6 Carlsberg: “Probably the Best Beer in the World.”
Nothing stopped Carlsberg from offering their world famous brews to customers. The company, founded in 1847 by J.C. Jacobsen, has survived a massive fire, Prohibition, and domestic competition.
Carlsberg’s popular slogan was first used in1973. Despite their innovative ads, it’s difficult to shake the hesitation behind the campaign. It’s meant to read as superior, even condescending. However, it comes across as indifferent, almost as if it’s delivered with a shoulder shrug and a “meh.”
If you’re second guessing the quality of your product, your customers likely are as well. The simple use of the word “probably” is enough to make this seem like an untrustworthy brand. People may have enjoyed the commercials, but there is a lot of room to misinterpret the message here.
#7 Chick-fil-A: “Eat More Chikin’.”
The original diner opened in an Atlanta suburb called Hapeville in 1946. It was called Dwarf House and was ran by brothers Truett and Ben Cathy. As the company thrived, Truett went on to open his own restaurant and named it Chick-fil-A.
A pair of outspoken cows first uttered (pun intended) the words “Eat Mor Chikin’ in 1995. The slogan appeared on a billboard in Atlanta and has since been used on water towers, radio ads, and television commercials. Meanwhile, their cows have become more famous than ever!
In a world of spellcheck, there’s no excuse for this slogan. The best slogans are quippy and easily digestible, but it takes a second to interpret the meaning here. This is a shame because the cow mascots are super clever and adorable.
#8 Volkswagen: “Relieves Gas Pains.”
Right in the midst of World War II, a new company was finding massive success in Germany. Volkswagen was introduced in 1937 and was soon in the fast lane to becoming a leader in the automotive industry. By the time it made its way to the United States, the car was called “the Beetle” and sales went through the roof.
Veteran advertiser Simon “Si” Lam created the memorable “Relieves Gas Pains” campaigns. He was a creative genius with a lot of great ads under his belt, including work for American Airlines and First Western Bank. Clearly, there’s a sense of humor to the ad, but it doesn’t do much for taking VW very seriously.
Whether or not it was intentional, there’s a very distracting double innuendo in their slogan. Humor works well for an advertisement or slogan if that’s part of the brand’s personality. However, Volkswagen has never been known to be particularly comical as a company.
#9 Old Spice: “Smell Better Than Yourself.”
The first Old Spice product was designed for women and came out in 1937. It was named Early American Old Spice and was manufactured by the Shulton Company. Shortly after, the company began to create products for men, who now make up their target audience.
Many of Old Spice’s ads follow a Colonial theme, as a tribute to founder William Lightfoot Schultz’s interest in sailing. The “Smells Better Than Yourself” slogan sticks faithfully to that theme. The original ad came out in 2011 and was used to promote their deodorant, sprays, and body wash. The commercial showcased a sea captain and jet pilot as they used Old Spice products.
This slogan is a real head-scratcher to say the least. How can you possibly smell better than yourself? It is strongly implied that, on a basic level, you don’t typically smell all that great. After using Old Spice products you’ll smell better, but by how much? There’s way too much thinking behind this slogan.
#10 Hoover: “It Beats as it Sweeps as it Cleans.”
The story behind the Hoover is pretty fascinating. William Hoover bought a patent from his wife’s cousin in 1908 and turned the invention into what eventually became the largest vacuum cleaner manufacturer in the world. Without Hoover, the invention of the vacuum would have completely failed and our carpets would be disasters.
Nine times out of ten, a catchy song can make even the worst situation a little bit better. Unfortunately, that’s not the case with “It Beats as it Sweeps as it Cleans.” The jingle is extremely strange and lacks any kind of rhythm whatsoever. Just like your Aunt Cheryl when she tried doing the Cha Cha Slide at your wedding.
Okay, so what exactly does Hoover do? The call to action here is very unclear. It would make a lot more sense to have one verb in there. On top of that, the slogan should have some element of catchiness. Instead, it’s just a frustrating sentiment to read.
The Bottom Line
Slogans are only successful when they send a positive message to the mass majority. Many people may enjoy Carlsberg’s comical slogan, but there are still those who find it confusing and lifeless. On the flip side of that coin, people may really love “Once You Pop, You Can’t Stop,” while others condemn it for encouraging overeating. In other words, there is a yin to every yang.
It just goes to show finding the magic formula for a slogan is no easy feat. The easiest way to ensure success is to think about the world around you, understand your brand, and hire some really talented people in your marketing department!