The Creative' Review's "Top 20 Slogans of all Time" special edition is a fascinating read. Here are the insights I took out, illustrated with the top 3 slogans (as selected by a panel of experts).
1. Inspiration comes at any time: Beanz Meanz Heinz - since 1967
This slogan for Heinz Baked Beans has been going strong for 45 years. It was fascinating to read the slogan's creator, Maurice Drake of Y&R, commenting on the challenge at the time: "The problem was that if you owned an FMCG product - and a famous one at that - it would be copied by the big supermarkets and sold cheaper. So Heinz felt we should point out that the were the original and best." Sounds familiar eh?
The creative team were stuck, and so Maurice resorted to that tried and trusted trick for creative inspiration - a trip to the pub! It was during lunch that he scribbled the slogan on a pad. And not only that, while he was at it he coined the one of the most famous jingles of all time: "A million housewives every day, open a can of beans and say Beanz Meanz Heinz." You can watch the 1960's ad here.
The slogan was dropped in the 1990's. But, as if often the case with slogans that refuse to be forgotten, Heinz resurrected it in 2009 in a new campaign by AMV BBDO. More on the story behind this in a Sky News story here.
2. Big ideas can start small: Nike, Just Do It - since 1987
Considering how pervasive this idea is, it actually had modest beginnings. Back in 1987 Dan Wieden of agency Wieden & Kennedy was reviewing a series of TV ads for different sports, that he was due to present to Nike the following day. He recalls, "In reviewing the work I felt we needed a tagline to give some unity."
The idea for the slogan came from a strange source: it was sparked by the final words of.... convicted mass murderer Gary Gilmore, who said to the firing squad before his execution: "Let's do it!"
The need for the Just Do It slogan was questioned by agency creative and Nike clients alike. But Wieden persisted, in the end just getting agreement to have a trial run. "I'm not married to the thing. We can drop it next round.", he said at the time, with a lot of shrugged shoulders as the response.
The slogan quickly generated an enthusiastic response from consumers, and has gone on to be not just a slogan, but a distillation of the company's philosophy and mission. This is shown in the comments of Davide Grasso, VP of Global Brand Marketing: "Just Do It has had such an impact over the last 20 years and continues to do do. It's genuine and speaks to our core mission."
3. Be ready to reject research: Ronseal, Does exactly what it says on the tin - since 1994
This slogan, for the DIY brand selling products such as wood staining, is one of the elite few to make its way into everyday language. In a 2004 interview, David Cameron claimed "People are crying out for a kind of Ronseal politics. They want it to do what it says on the tin."
Its a great example of a slogan that tells a product story in a memorable way. The brief to agency HHCL was to convey the functionality of the product in a qat that was distinctive from a host of newer, more "lifestyle" focused competitors.
As with Nike's Just Do It, the line was not received with enthusiasm, and was seen as a "working endline" that would be improved on in time. What's more, when it was researched it was uniformly disliked, as creative Dave Shelton explains, "People thought it was dull. But Ged Shields, Ronseal's marketing director at the time, loved the script and stood by it." So, another example where a brave marketer had to back their gut feel in the face of negative feedback to an idea in its infancy.
In conclusion, these slogans show the power of using "fresh consistency" to build a brand, by creating memory structure over 10, 20 or even 40 years. The stories behind the slogans show how you have to be ready for inspiration at any time, to start small and trust your judgement to back an idea you believe in.