Most of Don Draper’s finest moments on the television show Mad Men came between guzzling alcohol, chain-smoking and adultery, when he found the time and inspiration to craft magical company slogans for his clients’ advertising campaigns. Mad Men gave us an entertaining, but fictional, portrayal of how some famous company slogans came to be, and why they were so important for businesses, along with the rise of television advertising and advertising in general, during the 1950s and ’60s.
Some Google research can provide plenty of historical background on famous company slogans and how they came to be, but what is interesting to me is dissecting what the company is trying to convey to us through their company slogan and comparing and contrasting the different approaches the advertising gurus took in crafting famous slogans to make them catchy, effective and timeless.
Some of the most catchy and famous slogans were crafted with the “sing-song” approach; they are memorable because the words instantly bring to mind the melody that accompanied them, and vice-versa.
Alka Seltzer: Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is.
Bounty: The quick picker upper.
State Farm: Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.
McDonald’s: I’m lovin’ it.
Other famous slogans take an inspirational approach. They aim to inspire the masses and attach their company or product to that inspiration.
Adidas: Impossible is nothing.
Nike: Just do it.
U.S. Army: Be all you can be.
This is one of my favorite advertising slogans, it’s not super-famous but I appreciate the subtle, sarcastic tone:
Carlsberg: Probably the best lager in the world.
My least favorite famous slogan is one that I feel tries a little too hard:
Subway: Eat Fresh.
No thanks. If “fresh” means nothing but pre-sliced turkey-based meats and breads that stink like chemicals, I’ll find fresher elsewhere. If you’ve eaten a sandwich at this franchise, you probably know what I mean. Just the smell of this place makes me think just the opposite of the slogan’s intended message.
Other firms have taken customer-centric approach in their famous slogans, it’s all about you:
Burger King: Have it your way.
Gillette: The best a man can get.
UPS: What can brown do for you?
Tobacco companies with famous slogans from a much different era are particularly interesting, considering the addictive nature of their products and the health concerns involved. Some of these are funny in an ironic, “not funny” sort-of-way.
Camel: I’d walk a mile for a Camel.
Camel: More doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette.
L&M: Just what the doctor ordered.
Marlboro: Gee, Mommy you sure enjoy your Marlboros.
Newport: Refreshes as you smoke.
Chesterfield: Chesterfield is best for you!
Finally, there’s one famous company slogan that perfectly encapsulated an era, the industry and the company, in my opinion, and that’s why it’s my personal favorite of all-time. Just thinking about it reminds me of watching television as a child in the 1980s. It’s the perfect mix of arrogance and stodgy attitude that represents financial firms:
Smith Barney: Smith Barney makes money the old-fashioned way…we earn it.