Thursday, July 9, 2009

MrWordsWorth on Pepsi, Olive Garden Slogans, For What it's Worth...

Slogans are vital. They encapsulate the essence of your company, your product, your service. They're like a promise, or a come-on. People hear them and immediately they know who you are and what you do, and why they want to make you their hero over some other brand zero.

Advertising agencies have produced many great slogans over the years. 'You're in good hands with Allstate.' 'Reach out & Touch Someone' 'The quicker picker upper.' 'Raise your hand if you're sure.' 'It takes a licking & keeps on ticking.' These slogans tell a story, make a promise. You hear them and you know what the product or service is all about.

There are two things that slogans shouldn't do: confuse or raise questions that undermine the warm and fuzzies you want to evoke. Take Pepsi Canada, for example. Last month, it unveiled, with creative from BBDO, a new slogan: Joy it Forward. I'm guessing someone was channel surfing and came upon the movie Pay it Forward and had a revelation.

The movie, and the book it was based on, are several years behind us. So it's hard to believe that it would have served as the inspiration. But that's not the real problem I have with the slogan. My real problem is it neither makes sense, nor does it say anything specific about Pepsi. Joy it Forward is generic enough that any company, from Hallmark Cards to Betty Crocker, could use it. It's meaningless. And it feels like it was created by pouring a box of Magnetic Poetry on a table and determining the constituent words through a process of elimination. 'Well, we want to say something about happiness, and progress, but in a very vague way.' It lacks substance, specificity and effervescence.

Meanwhile, Olive Garden has been running a commercial that ends with the line: 'When You're Here, You're Family.' Nice sentiment, but it raises an unnecessary question in the mind of the consumer: what am I when I'm not at Olive Garden? Inconsequential? Contemptuous? Do you talk trash about me and my clothes? These are the kinds of ruminations you don't want your slogan to inspire, Olive Garden.

Of course, these are just my perspectives. Perhaps you like these slogans, and you're not even affiliated with the companies above. I hope you'll share why. More important. I hope you'll think on this when it comes time to tell your story in a slogan. And I hope you'll leave the magnetic poetry on the fridge.

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