Forbes Top 25 “Best Ever” Taglines

Forbes just published an article citing the 25 “Best Ever Advertising Taglines” as “rated by a group of 10 CMO’s and advertising experts.” See the article here

The winners were not all taglines, strictly speaking. Rather, they were a collection of slogans, catch phrases and taglines.

The good people at Forbes were nice enough to publish this piece to complement my last two blogs lamenting the “rise of cool” and the disappearance of the advertising jingle. So thanks to them for supporting my thesis.

I could quibble with some of the lines that are here and some that are not…like “It’s the Real Thing” for Coke or “Good to the Last Drop” (coined by no less than Teddy Roosevelt) for Maxwell House.  But while a surprising number were from the 80’s and 90’s, I would say none – with the possible exception of Apple and Nike – are from the School of Cool. But even those strike that great balance between reason and emotion.

Nearly all of these lines are grounded in tangible product attributes while evoking singular imagery as well.

Many of these lines were also sung in their time.  Seven of the twenty-five, by my count, but just one from the past 20 years. That was Bob Seger’s “Like A Rock” for Chevy Trucks. This was not a jingle, but one of those rare licensed songs that was used so effectively for so long it might as well be.

I think it’s also stunning that while only a few of the judges were working back in the 1960’s, possibly two of the advertising veterans, only 40% of the lines on this list were created in the past 30 years.  I would think that career prime time for many, if not most of the judges, has got to be now if they are current CMO’s.

Given a much greater familiarity of work they grew up with, the distribution of these lines over these seven decades – with what I feel is a disproportionate number of older ones – is to me a testament to the old ways and an indictment of the Cool School.

The article states, “many of the “best” taglines were created years, if not decades, ago when it was easier for advertisers to make a big splash.” Ridiculous. How was it easier then? Great work is great work.

I am NOT advocating nostalgia here. But if you’re a brand manager and your agency utters the word “cool,” in the context of their proposed advertising campaign, I have one word for you. Run. Style is important, but without a foundation in substance, you’ve got nothing.

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