Monday, 23 April 2012

Don't be SMART

David Cameron was on The Today Programme this morning. His presentation is always confident and slick, to the point where he makes Tony Blair at his Teflon coated best look like Count Arthur Strong.

Well done him.

The thing that really stood out for me was the use of the current 'tag line' of the Conservative Party / Coalition Government. It was mentioned more than once and, sorry Dave, but like all good tag lines it means nothing. It's an emotional signifier that positions the government, but it's devoid of real meaning.

That's what you want from a tag line or corporate slogan, the last thing that you want is addled old hacks picking away at it as if you've lied...

These are some of my favourite meaning free emotion heavy tag-lines.

1) "Hard working families, trying to do the right thing." - David Cameron 2012.
Both 'hard working' and 'right thing' are hugely subjective. They rely on a moral compass judgement. There may be some families who feel that the 'right thing' is to begin a terrorist cell and bring down the government; as for 'Hard working', my idea of hard work is probably different from the PM's.

2) "The better music mix". - GWR Stations from 1997 to 2001 (ish)
GWR Radio stations adopted one of the best lines in radio programming ever. I love the idea that 'better' and 'mix' are quantifiable. It doesn't even say that the music is better than competitors; because they can't say that, chart stations all play the same music. What they do is drop the emotive word 'better' next to the idea that the 'mix' of music played is vastly important. Genius.

3) "Change we can believe in." - Barack Obama campaign slogan 2008
 There's a chain of thought that sites this slogan for reducing the presidents popularity. It goes that change means many things to many people and the change that felt promised (an overhaul of governance and 'the system') never came, instead the change that did come felt too small and too laboured. The change was fought for, batted back, and then compromised. Change happened, but CHANGE! didn't happen. Lovely undefinable 'change' got defined by the people not the president.

4) "The best a man can get". - Gillette 1989 to present.
Here's the full version of the 80's classic
Oh it's just horrible, it really is, but the slogan will remain one of the greats. It has so much weight behind it. It's not just the best razor, oh no, it's the best a man can get... it's the whole package, it's the whole life, and it reached it's height with the 60 second spot and the best power ballad of the age. The slogan itself has been boiled down to have all of the meaning evaporated off and you're just left with a thick sickly emotion filled goo.

So the last thing that you want to be in this slogan / tag line / sound bite world is S.M.A.R.T. so forget your training and come up with something vague...

John Rockley - "Experience the media"

Oooooh, I like that one....

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