- United Airlines
- A good slogan is brief, yet memorable.
- There are slogans, and then there are taglines. Slogans sum up what a company stands for, whereas a tagline concludes an ad, usually a commercial, with a quick sign off.
- Some of the most memorable slogans of all time – “Where’s the beef?” or “Just do it” – not only sell the brand, but become synonymous with it.
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When you hear the phrase, “Just do it,” the first thing that comes mind is probably Nike. What about “Open happiness,” “The pause that refreshes,” or “It’s the real thing”? Those phrases belong to Coca-Cola.
That’s the power of a good slogan. They’re designed to stay with you (seemingly endless repetition through commercials and billboards don’t hurt either).
There are slogans, and then there are taglines. According to brand consultant Laura Ries at Advertising Age, “Taglines are like the road sweepers at the end of a parade … they seldom position the brand.” A slogan, when done right, “sums up a company’s strategy,” she adds.
Here are some of the most memorable and recognizable slogans and taglines in advertising history.
Volkswagen recently announced the end of its long-running production of the Beetle, the iconic car that inspired this slogan: “Think small.”
Before this 1960 ad, most car ads boasted the biggest and best features of new models. American ad agency Doyle Dane Bernbach (DDB) flipped that notion on its head to create a self-deprecating, understated ad that went on to help sell millions of cars. AdAge even named it the greatest ad of the 20th century.
“The pause that refreshes”
Coca-Cola’s most famous slogan also scored highly on AdAge’s ranking of the best ads of the 20th century: no. 2. Dating from 1929, this is the longest-running ad campaign for Coke, which was used for the next 30 years.
This ad, which appearing in the Saturday Evening Post in 1929, is the first one to use the slogan.
“Good to the last drop”
- Wikimedia Commons
Maxwell House’s classic slogan wasn’t even their own – at first.
As it turns out, Coca-Cola used this exact slogan before Maxwell House, in 1907, according to the Coca-Cola website. The coffee maker didn’t use it until 1915. This Maxwell House ad, from 1921, placed the slogan in the lower left-hand corner, next to the coffee cup.
The phrase was said to have come from Teddy Roosevelt himself, when he had a sip of the coffee in 1907. He allegedly said it was “good to the last drop,” which later led many people to ask, “What’s wrong with the last drop?”
Unfortunately, Maxwell House’s anecdote was false, and Teddy Roosevelt was never known to say such a thing, according to food history site Culinary Lore.
“Where’s the beef?”
Wendy’s aired the famous “Fluffy bun” commercial in 1984, featuring three old women questioning a sub-par hamburger.
Since then, it’s become something of a catchphrase in itself. If you want to question the validity of anything nowadays, people will know what you mean when you ask, “Where’s the beef?”
“M’m! M’m! Good!”
- Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
This Campbell’s slogan dates back to the 1930s, but was scrapped in the mid-1980s for “We’ve got a soup for that.” However, after lagging sales in 2000, Campbell’s decided to get back to basics by recommissioning its classic slogan.
“Sometimes you feel like a nut. Sometimes you don’t.”
- The Hershey Company
In 1970, American composer Leon Carr struck ad jingle gold when he sang, “Sometimes you feel like a nut / Sometimes you don’t /Almond Joy’s got nuts / Mounds don’t.”
The Hershey Company, which produces both Almond Joy and Mounds, advertised both products in tandem in what became an iconic song. At the end of the commercial, the slogan appeared along with the candy bars, as pictured above.
“The best a man can get.”
Gillette first introduced their slogan during the 1989 Superbowl, and kept it for the next 30 years.
The 2019 Superbowl, however, saw the introduction of a new slogan: “The best a man can be.” The Superbowl ad featuring the new slogan was meant to address issues like toxic masculinity, sexism, and, indirectly, the #MeToo movement.
“The breakfast of champions”
In 1933, the Wheaties slogan was penned almost offhandedly by an ad executive named Knox Reeves. He needed a slogan to be printed on Wheaties billboards for a Minneapolis baseball stadium, so he jotted down, “Wheaties – the breakfast of champions.”
It stuck. Wheaties decided to include the slogan on its boxes, along with images of famous athletes who endorsed the cereal, like Mohammed Ali.
“A diamond is forever”
- De Beers
You may have heard the phrase “Diamonds are forever,” either from the James Bond film of the same name or its accompanying theme song. It came from a series of ads for diamond makers De Beers. And those ads are the reason women wear diamond engagement rings.
In the 1940s, ad copywriter Frances Gerety was tasked with coming up with a slogan to advertise diamonds, which were still seen as an unaffordable luxury item. The Great Depression was only just coming to an end, and De Beers wasn’t a household name for jewelry yet. However, with her slogan, which ad execs saw as rather forgettable (and ungrammatical), diamond rings became a cultural trend in marriage virtually overnight.
This magazine ad was one of the first to feature the slogan. Most ads featured a painting of a woman, a De Beers diamond, and the slogan at the bottom, which was usually colorful and hand-written.
- California Milk Processor Board
Back in 1995, the California Milk Processor Board wanted to promote a product everyone already knew about: milk. The unusual ad campaign was meant to remind consumers of the product rather than showing off something novel.
It also used a psychological trick, according to a report by Fast Company: deprivation marketing. Reminding consumers how unfortunate life would be without milk made the ads a success.
The ad campaigns that followed, featuring various celebrities and characters adorned with milk mustaches, have been published on and off ever since. Famed photographer Annie Leibovitz photographed over 180 of them – everyone from Naomi Campbell to Kermit the Frog to Whoopie Goldberg. The Williams sisters (pictured above) were brand new tennis superstars when this ad debuted in 1999.
“Just do it”
Nike’s iconic 1988 slogan may sound motivational, but its origin is somewhat darker.
According to ad executive Dan Wieden, he was inspired by murderer Gary Gilmore’s 1977 execution. Just before being put to death, Gilmore reportedly said, “Let’s do this.”
The slogan turned out to be a financial success, and is now closely associated with Nike’s famous “Swoosh” logo.
“The Ultimate Driving Machine”
BMW (which stands for Bavarian Motor Works) unveiled this slogan in 1973, and has used it ever since. In this ad, for example, it’s in the top right-hand corner, under the BMW logo.
According to Forbes, BMW released a 2012 TV commercial that sums up their marketing perfectly: “We don’t make sports cars. We don’t make SUVs. We don’t make hybrids. We don’t make luxury sedans. We only make one thing. The Ultimate Driving Machine.”
Frosted Flakes has called their cereal “gr-r-reat” since its introduction in 1952. Actually, Tony the Tiger and his unique speech habits weren’t introduced until later than year. The very first mascot was a kangaroo and her joey.
This modern Frosted Flakes box features the slogan, which used to only appear in advertising until the 1980s, when it was added to packaging.
“Fly the friendly skies”
- United Airlines
United Airlines introduced this slogan in 1965, and kept it for 30 years, until it was replaced in 1996. After a few slogans which didn’t gain much traction, like “It’s time to fly” (2004) and “Let’s fly together,” (2010) United reverted back to “Fly the friendly skies” in 2013.
The slogan appeared at the end of several TV commercials, including this one from 1970.
“All the News That’s Fit to Print”
- Getty Images/Mario Tama
The New York Times slogan has been around longer than any other slogan featured on this list.
In 1896, NYT owner Adolph Ochs held a public competition to find “a phrase of 10 words or less which shall more aptly express the distinguishing characteristics of The New York Times.” The reward was $100. Some of the suggestions were: “News, Not Nausea,” “Fresh Facts Free From Filth,” and “Truth Without Trumpery.” One of the funnier ones was “All News When Fit, When Not We Wait a Bit.”
In the end, the current slogan won out. “All the news that’s fit to print” was prominent to begin with: It had been a billboard in New York’s Madison Square Park before Ochs added it to every edition of the Times.