A few weeks back, Creative Review invited people to put forward their favourite slogan.
The visual communications magazine said, Slogans are the epitome of the copywriters' art: the hopes, aims and very essence of a campaign or an organisation distilled into a pithy, catchy phrase of exactly the right number of words. A great slogans can be an enormously powerful thing. Slogans become part of our everyday lives, like the catchiest tune, they worm their way into our brains.
Hard to argue with that. Unfortunately I've got a feeling people don't put a lot of faith in straplines any more. The new British Airways line "To Fly. To Serve is a perfect example of the dying craft. I don't know of any writer who would be proud of that.
So what makes a great slogan? Well copywriter Nick Padman has looked into it. In his post Greatest Copy Shot Ever Written he applied all sorts of different criteria into something he calls a copy engine'. No I don't get it either. Anyhow, it seems surprising that, based on Nick's research, the best strapline ever appears to be 'If it's on, it's in' for the Radio Times. Not one of my favourites, probably not one of yours. But who are we to argue.
People put some good examples up on the Creative Review blog. 'It does what it says on the tin' picked up the most votes. 'Making the unmissable, unmissable', 'It's a bit of an animal" and 'We won't make a drama out of a crisis' for Commercial Union all received plenty of positive comment.
For me, the best strapline ever is "Lipsmackin' thirstquenchin' acetastin' motivatin' goodbuzzin' cooltalkin' highwalkin' fastlivin' evergivin' coolfizzin' Pepsi."
Back in 1974 when it first appeared it wasn't just radical, it was epic. It blew everything else out of the water. For me and my classmates it was our kinda language. We would memorise it until we knew it off by heart. It became our chant and the last word was always hissed Pepppssssssssssssiiii.
Now as a copywriter myself, I've always wondered how a line like that happens. It's not something you just stumble into. This is a one-off. So where does an idea like that come from?
The famous line was penned by Dave Trott back in 1974. At the time he was a junior writer at BMP. Recently he revealed how it came about;
It was pretty much my first ad at BMP.
The brief was so long with so many things to say: refreshing, modern, young, energising, delicious, bubbly, stylish, I couldn't get them all in one line.
So I thought what if it was one huge long line.'¨Then I remembered Tom Wolfe's book "Candy coloured tangerine flake streamline baby."
Then I remembered a DJ on pirate radio (Emperor Rosko on Radio Luxemburg) who usedÂ to talk about a record as "A real knuckle-cracking thigh-slapping foot-stomping head-shaking toe-tapping rocker".
And I jut put the two together, and my boss, John Webster, loved it and made it all happen.
John Fountain is a freelance copywriter