Taglines: The ones that last

Armed with pen and paper, my task at hand was hitting industry experts - you - and tracking down the top all-time taglines. You know, the ones that have staying power, the ones that come right to the top of your head when you think about taglines - particularly Canadian ones. Easy task?

Armed with pen and paper, my task at hand was hitting industry experts – you – and tracking down the top all-time taglines. You know, the ones that have staying power, the ones that come right to the top of your head when you think about taglines – particularly Canadian ones. Easy task?

Not so much.

When that question was posed, the general responses were – ‘Oh shit. I can’t think of one’ or ‘We try never to use taglines, unless they’re great.’ Okay, so what are some great taglines? ‘I don’t know, call me back.’

So after some ponderings of stellar taglines, here’s what our panel – Nancy Vonk (CCO, Ogilvy & Mather, Toronto); Tony Miller (VP/CD, Sharpe Blackmore Euro RSCG, Toronto); John Lee (president, Holmes & Lee, Toronto); Chris Staples (partner, Rethink, Vancouver) and Randy Stein (CD, Grip, Toronto) came up with (and okay, they had one that wasn’t Canadian in there).

Harvey’s makes a hamburger a beautiful thing

‘It was from the era of the jingle. They made a song – it was multi-purpose, it said something about their point of difference, which was you had to go there to order whatever you want and put it on your burger…’ TM

I. AM. CANADIAN (Molson Canadian beer)

‘The mother of all taglines – number one by far. It’s so robust, so proud and so in your face. I’m an American who came to Canada and from my U.S. roots, I love that it’s almost push back. There’s a great ‘fuck-you’ to it that I think is fantastic. They managed to wrap patriotism around a beer brand in a non-sickening way. We’re almost allowed to be patriotic in that moment, which in a normal context Canadians would rather die than appear patriotic.’ NV

‘That’s a very unusual theme line – if you actually deconstruct it. It doesn’t make sense on one level. Like I am Canadian. I am beer. You know? But it’s just such a powerful fresh and unique line. It’s very odd that you would have the word ‘I’ in a theme line and it’s not a call to action, it’s not really about the product, it’s more about the person using the product.

Which is amazing – it’s kind of a postmodern theme line.’ CS

When you eat your Smarties do you eat the red ones last?

‘That’s a classic. And Christ, it’s been up for 30 some odd years. But I think the longevity of it is what makes that good and they’ve stayed with it and so many of them don’t…’ JL

‘It was so charming and quirky – I mean it just struck a chord and every kid said it – everyone remembers it. It’s a tune that stuck in your head. I think it was a claim to fame for the agency that did it.’ ‘NV

‘It’s dated – it has that sense of whimsy. That line could never be developed today because people like account planners would be all over it and it would never make it out of focus groups because it’s just silly and silly doesn’t test well. That time was a golden age of advertising.’CS

It tastes awful. And it works. (Buckley’s cough syrup)

‘It’s a bold brave way of thinking that had a big pay-off. Imagine any product of any kind telling you it tastes terrible, and everybody bought into the whole mind-set of ‘well, if you want it to be effective…’ You know these guys are just being honest, you know if they’re going to go ahead and say that, it must work. I think that’s brilliant.’ NV

‘It was one of the first honest theme lines.

It’s brilliant.’ CS

‘They have the product benefit and the USP jammed into one tagline and it works. I think that’s the genius of it. It’s so unconventional.

There’s no way you could presumably walk into a P&G boardroom now and pitch a campaign to say ‘hey your product is awful.’ ‘ RS

Just Do It. (NIKE)

‘Nike is selling accomplishment in three words and they do that in all their positioning – when really a pair of Nike shoes

is probably no different than Reebok.’ RS

What’s the fountainhead of these retro taglines?

Molson:

Agency: MacLaren McCann

Creative: Bill Durnan, CD

When: 1994

Harvey’s:

Agency:

Goodis Goldberg and Soren

Creative: Doug Linton, CD

When: 1973

Buckley’s:

Agency: Ambrose Carr Linton Carroll, Toronto

Creative: Peter Byrne

When: early 1988

Nike:

Agency: Weiden + Kennedy, Portland, Ore.

Creative: Dan Wieden

When: 1988

Smarties:

Agency: Ogilvy & Mather,

Toronto

Creative: Gary Gray, CD

When: 1967