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Exceedingly good slogans

by Nigel Hollis | March 17, 2014

Last week, Charles Foster sent me a link to a news article announcing the potential demise of a time-honored slogan. Writing in the UK’s The Telegraph, Andrew Cave suggested that Mr. Kipling might no longer use the slogan “exceedingly good cakes.” To any self-respecting Brit, this is horrifying. What is the world coming to?

A Bakewell Tart

News of the famous slogan’s demise, however, was greatly exaggerated. In spite of the story being covered in numerous media outlets, Mr. Kipling recently announced that “Mr. Kipling does not do rumours, but he does make exceedingly good cakes.” Phew! Keep calm and carry on seems to be the order of the day. 

The furor surrounding the potential demise of “exceedingly good cakes” points to the huge impact that a good slogan can have. Another post on The Telegraph by Harry Wallop, suggesting he was slightly appalled at the possible disappearance of the slogan, garnered 84 comments (some of them even relevant to the topic).   

So what does make a good slogan? Wallop quotes Simon Horobin, professor of English at Magdalen, Oxford, as follows: 

Slogans work best when they are short, simple and catchy. Often they give the impression of stating truths universally acknowledged, which cannot be questioned: 'The Real Thing’; 'It’s Good to Talk’. 

True, many slogans do seek to give the impression of stating the truth – The World’s Favorite Airline, The World’s Local Bank, A Diamond is Forever – but I suspect that there is another factor at work. Simple repetition. Far from familiarity breeding contempt, repetition may actually make us fonder of something than we would be otherwise. So what is your favorite slogan? Are slogans a thing of the past? Please share your thoughts.

6 comments

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  1. Jorge Bueso, June 23, 2014

    "Just do it"

    By far, this slogan encompasses all the attributes needed. Short, simple and catchy. The stating a truth part may be more difficult to pinpoint. But, if you really think about it... aren't we happier when we disregard anything and everything that stops from accomplishing a goal?

    To me, it also has this call to action. Forget everything else.. and just do it. For those that hesitate, this reinvigorates you to power through full steam ahead... on some Nike kicks of course. I think call to action would trump impression of stating the truth any day; especially on days you go out jogging.

    Oh yes, I forgot about repetition. "Just do it" is easy to repeat. And, you can quote not just in athletic endeavors. ;)

  2. Jack Vrooman, June 23, 2014

    "Finger Lickin' Good", "The San Francisco Treat", "Put a Tiger in Your Tank". Back when we were one nation under three television channels, the repetition of these and other slogans were as much a part of the American psyche as Bob Hope and Opie Taylor.

    Today, not so much.

  3. Paul Edwards, June 23, 2014
    I think slogans are underrated.  Brands seem to change them far too often.  I think this is because they are thought to contain a 'selling message' which needs refreshing.  I suspect they work on deep memory and therefore have value in creating brand habits.  I can't tell you how many slogans I recall from my childhood (yes I am a bit sad but a lot of them do relate to chocolate!)
  4. Mats Rönne, June 23, 2014

    There are many good ones, but some favourites include the obvious ones like "Just do it", "The ultimate driving machine" and "We try harder". But also older favourites like 

    It is. Are you? (the Independent)

    Move your mind (Saab)

    Motion and emotion (Peugeot)

    If anyone can, Canon can (which btw was even better in Swedish: Kan nån kan Canon)

    Refreshes the parts other beers cannot reach (Heineken)

    Every little helps (Tesco)

    Reassuringly expensive (Stella Artois)

    It's good to talk (BT)

    Beanz meanz Heinz

    Vorsprung durch Technik

    and even two French ones

    Du pain. Du vin. Du Boursin.

    C'est bon. C'est beau. C'est Bosch

    But the all-time winner in my book is L'Oreal's "Because your worth it"

  5. Ann Green, June 23, 2014
    Thanks for the great post Nigel.  I must admit I love a good slogan.  Who else remembers "they're great" or "good to the last drop".  Long running slogans can provide an immediate hook into nostalgia and in turn generate a strong emotional reaction.   One could sense the almost visceral reaction Mr Kipling lovers had to the thought of a change in slogan.   These are their beloved cakes that have been part of their families for years.   We know that brands that connect with people emotionally are stronger brands and more primed to grow.   If this is the case, why not use a simple slogan to foster that love connection?
  6. alan gilmour, June 23, 2014
    I don't know if this is a function of age but it has long bemused me why all the best slogans seem to date back for me a long time-the real thing, Vorsprung Durch Technik, The Listening Bank, The bank that likes to say yes, and so on. Modern ones don't seem to hang around long enough to enter the lexicon.Brand owners and their agencies seem to ditch their slogans and end lines with increasing frequency these days it seems. Cynically I often wonder if this down to short shelf life of CMOs and their agencies. Time for some research on this?

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