Archives for category: Advertising

Conversion Conference Tagline (Duplication) taglineSinger Tagline (Duplication)

Within branding, little is more annoying than seeing a company blow a great messaging opportunity: a name or part thereof that repeats itself in the tagline. And a few more:

Ally Bank            Everyone needs an ally.
CenturyLink        Your link to what’s next.
Vahan                 Alwand Vahan

Such lack of creativity doesn’t speak well for the discipline or the “disciplineer.” Rather than slapping a flat, thoughtless tagline under the name, leave it out.

A tagline is not the place to “tell them what you’re going to tell them” and then “tell them,” because you’ve then run out of time and space to “tell them what you just told them.” Doubling up on the name in the slogan is disrespectful to the audience…and just as you were getting their attention! In fact, not being able to come up with a short, original phrase that complements and/or reinforces the name is a common brand wasteland. Most “straplines” (as they are called in the UK) are largely visually experienced, so it is all the more surprising to see how many resources go towards a name and logo, leaving the tagline to be the afterthought and looking it all the way.

A good tagline furthers brand messaging and and strengthens positioning. As a name usually only conveys two or three traits, the tagline is the chance to say something strategic about the brand that did not make it into its hardest-working asset. Great taglines — you’ll recall “Just do it.” and “We bring good things to life.” — are born from compatibility with the naming structure and style, the sharing of additional meaning, a passion revealed and a personality defined. They transcend their typical real estate, emerging literally and figuratively out from underneath the respective name to achieve stand-alone stature and staying power in their viral journeys.

Before we leave, let’s get to some general fixes. One option is to simply remove the word or wordmark from the tagline when the two appear together, as with Singer. This may require a little tweaking of the initial phrase. Nothing fancy. could swap out “salary” for “figure” or “number.” Either is much more interesting and adds depth. With the Conversion Conference, it may take several words or a phrase to stand in for the repeat offender. Nothing major; a quick read of the session topic blurbs and the logo give me several ideas already. Lastly, Vahan should start over. Without visual cues, some previous knowledge of the brand or seeing the domain, (at the bottom of a recent ad showing retailers that carry the line), I have no idea what the company stands for or sells.

Given the difficulty in securing a legally-viable name and domain, the tagline can and often is a name’s best friend. If you’re strapped for creativity and time, Devign can find you both. Strapping results and in spades.

Kids, let's not get all excited at once now.

Kids, let’s not get all excited at once now.

Real chemistry. Fearless physics lessons. Science fairs and first place prizes. After-school projects. Curiosity. Biology experiments. Hot lab partners. Instructors that inspire us to wonder. Accidental explosions. (Make sure you’ve got on those safety goggles!)

Skimping on science is akin to apathy and signals a lack of engagement with our physical world. Science shapes us. It is everywhere. We should let it in more.

Bumper stickers. The analog, nano pre-tweet. Humorous, sobering, pithy calls-to-action. And we’re here to stay. Thank you, cars, planes, trains and unmotorized transportation, for lending some of your mobile real estate to the causes we ply.


Kahlú-a #1: “MUY, not “MOO-ey.”

Don’t know why this Mexican coffee-flavored liqueur adds a stress mark on “muy” in its “drive responsibly” blurb in the left margin. Unlike tu/tú, mi/mí or aun/aún (among others), there is not another word in Spanish with which to confuse it, and thus no need for an accent to differentiate the two. In fact, the stressed “u” here leads to a two-syllable word that rhymes with…uh-oh…“gooey.”

Also, while the brand name is correctly accented below the “DELICIOSO” ribbon (I know, hard to see here), the words “fábrica” and “café” are not. When a Spanish word is capitalized, Spanish speakers often do not use written accents where they would normally be required. However, since KAHLÚA is all caps, I would expect to see FÁBRICA and CAFÉ. Bad Spanish or Spanglish, at least it’s not affecting deliciousness.

Huntin’ down a tagline.

Huntin’ down a tagline.

I’ve seen these ads in magazines and airports. Unfortunately, the tagline doesn’t do the campaign justice. It would read and look much better as “for those without one.” “Voice,” particularly just south of the very same word in the call-to-action, is clunky and redundant. It waters down the message, rendering it less powerful.

Courtesy of Cali Szczawinski — Las Cruces, New Mexico.

I spied a clever turn of phrase on this campaign button that the owner of Meson de Mesilla penned herself. America, what’s not to agree about here? Let’s come to our senses and vote for reason, substance and the reversal of misfortune we’ve suffered the past 3+ years. Enough of you were naively sucked in by hope and got…nope. For others, “Sí, se puede.” was a catchy, pronunciation-friendly phrase you took a shine to. (Wow, more than a one-syllable slogan and in another language!) Most were baited with change, then switched with “Brother, can you spare some….”

This got me started.

If you gave the inexperienced, unqualified Joebama the nod four years ago, it’s o.k. That happens a lot, so we won’t hold that lapse of judgment against you. However, we do expect you to learn from and avoid repeating the folly. We need a fixer, not a poser. On to the real deal: integrity, resourcefulness, a solid work ethic, admirable intent, good energy and action that promotes and brings about prosperity. Sadly, that is not a lot to ask given the current White House occupant, that questionable American. Which is exactly the point: we need to demand more from our (highest) elected officials. In the same vein, we should also show them the door when they fail to perform to minimum standards. Inviting arrogance and his wrecking crew in for a second try is perversely tantamount to the widespread social passing of undeserving students. We do not need any more lofty, moving target, empty promises from a victimizing, blame-driving, serial apologist.

It is neither crime nor character flaw to have enviable business credentials (at least so far). Nor should jealousy of Mitt’s good fortune and his bank account be in vogue. (That is how certain Europeans have responded towards their fellow citizens who are better off than they are, and look where it has gotten them.) On the contrary, we should only be so lucky to make the most of and embrace the opportunity @MittRomney represents. Who alive, in his right mind and eligible to vote, once and only once, would not prefer a guy who has consistently shown he can create jobs, turn around companies, lead, successfully negotiate, stand for and deliver on said things and initiate and implement improvements? The incumbent is wholly unviable.

Follow the (imminently) yellow quilt roll.

Cute ad for what it leaves out. The competitor is not named…only referred to as the “ultra rippled brand.” (I take it that weaves are better than ripples.) Granted, some responsibility lies in the hands of the user…how skilled a person is with this tool. If you were new to the brand, the illustration is the first place to get a grip, given that there is no mention at all of the product or product category, or anything that approximates it. This ad is successful only if you have previous knowledge of the Charmin brand, its competition and a good grasp of English. Otherwise, you are just a babe in the woods. The domain: Hilarious. Gotta give P&G a hand (a clean one) for making going fun.

American't Express itself.

And, no, that first word in the title there is not short an apostrophe; nor is it French. Why is American Express not forward-thinking in their ads and customer service? We all know they can afford to be. Yet after being a cardholder for 25 years, they have proven they don’t care about loyalty. In fact, they cannot even entertain such a concept, even how-to suggestions. Their worst traits became all the more frequent: outright refusing to listen, completely missing the boat on the ability to learn from their customers and the inflexibility of a spent rubber band. So, with the picture painted, and upon viewing these ads in the June/July Esquire, I wondered:

Q: Why couldn’t legal counsel and/or the marketing team — to talk up their ability to score their members great concert tickets (among other supposed perks of batting their cards around like hummingbirds or starlets with eyelash extensions) — strike up an agreement with some celebrities on tour THIS, NOT LAST summer or fall?
A: Slapping real or fictitious dates on illustrations of tickets (not even images of the tickets themselves) to concerts that took place in 2010 is easier, faster and cheaper. And much less original.

Take a look at either ticket.

Q: So, you mean the privilege of a card with a stiff annual fee only gets me general admission?
A: I guess the negotiations with Ticketmaster weren’t as successful as they’d have liked.

I have seen American Express get uppity with friends and family over the decades, so I guess it was only a matter of time. Alas, in an age when they so openly gloating about their quarterly profits and their customers as being almost exclusively mega-spenders, the fact that their image cannot keep up with their identity is ever more obvious. Maybe research said that braggadocio and “green” underwriters who talk and walk like they just “graduated” kindergarten are the quickest route to new customers. Given where I saw this ad and one of their reps at a public speaking engagement this Spring, that is my impression. AmEx is desperately trying to woo a younger audience but is not in touch with those generations. Three swipes and….amusing to watch this brand derailment. What I call ex-Membership Rewards.

Yes, Napoleon, there is a complex.

“Mascarathon” caught my attention. After reading this Napoleon Perdis ad, though, I realized how off-strategy that header is for what the company is trying to get across here: breadth of play. If the focus were only on making lashes longer, lash extensions or long-lasting mascara, the word would hit the mark, but do I really need a “wardrobe of mascara options?” How realistic is it for women to change their mascara during the day or from day to evening? Yes, we might re-apply, but not if it involved toting around more product. Napoleon lost, indeed.

I want my mascara to multi-task; it should work as hard as I do.

What the company was probably after with “Mascarathon” was the suffix “-athlon,” as in heptathlon and decathlon. Heptathletes and decathletes are versatile performers in multi-sport athletic events. They need different equipment and strategy for each competitive category, if you will, to achieve the desired results. Unfortunately, the –athlon suffix does not score well; it is clunky and hard to pronounce in combination with “mascar-.” Therefore, maybe the change to “-athon.” They were on the right track in fusing two word parts together, but a little verbal strength training would have improved the messaging angle.

“Remember, there are babes in the woods.”

My favorite forest fire prevention PSA out of all of Smokey’s tireless evangelism is “Death rides the forest when man is careless,” which actually predates him. Born in 1943, “the bear/man” is approaching seventy. Take a walk along his trail map of gracious and patient pleas to see how he has grown up yet never aged.

Smokey has always kept good company. From Bing Crosby, Art Linkletter and James Arness (Gunsmoke) in the 50’s and 60’s  to Spock, The Grateful Dead and Cheech and Chong in 1985 radio spots and Sam Elliott (smokin’ himself) in 2008, the threat has evolved in name, too: from forest fires, range fires and campfires to wildfires and backyard leaf burning. HotFootTeddy was kind enough to lend the website images of all kinds of stuffed Smokeys over the decades. Alas, Smokey was more real before CGI rendered him artificial, less personable and convincing — you know, as hollow as that decayed stump over there.

Flustered but batting an eye.

I spy a word that starts with an “f….” Flirt & Flutter is a good evocative name. Initial “f’s” signal a sense of speed (fast, furious, frantic, flip, flash), goodness (fresh, fragrant, freedom, flavor, flush) and lightness (feather, flight, flicker, flury, float). Without any other cues as to the industry they’re in, the salon’s tagline leaves no doubt. The problem is they are trying to be more than what they are. What is it with this lifestyle thing? Just like everyone calling him-or herself an author, every company seems to be copycatting the lifestyle position. Most can’t even remotely deliver. At the very least, one tagline is enough.

Next up is the domain. Either the domain lags behind what may have been a name change from “Flirt & Flutter Lash Loft” to “Flirt & Flutter” or “,” “,” “” and “” (as examples) were already taken. The domain, however, makes the “…a Lifestyle” all the more unbelievable. Trying to be the Sprite in a cola proliferation is not working.

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