Best Ever Print Ad Taglines?

Stuff like this is gold dust on marketing, advertising and PR blogs because it’s good link-bait-y copy. Top tens always go down well, but if you can match something that tugs at the nostalgia strings of readers, string it out over 20-odd pages and churn out some generic keyword-heavy intros and you’re away.

It’s ironic that this one is about advertising taglines, as the title ‘best every ad taglines?’ – or words to that effect – is almost an advertising tagline in itself.

Anyway, the slogans on this article by Forbes – coincidentally one of the least user-friendly sites in existence – are inevitably US-based, but enough of them should have leaked through to our combined UK and European consciousnesses for them to make sense.

Some are universal. BMW’s Ultimate Driving Machine is timeless. Or so you would have thought, as BMW recently ditched it for the appalling Joy.

Just Do It – also a good one, and a slogan coincidentally used by my Dad, in his general attitude to life. Not because of a freaky baseball-cap-wearing US geriatric, but because it worked for him.

Got milk? has alway baffled me. Surely the answer is either ‘yes I have go milk’ or ‘no I haven’t got milk’?

Mastercard’s There Are Some Things Money Can’t Buy tagline is supposedly well-loved. And while it’s spawned a thousand spoofs, it doesn’t exactly stand out. Does it do anything that other cards don’t do? No, it doesn’t. So who exactly ‘loves’ it?

Verizon’s Can You Hear Me Now? suggests to me that the line is bad, forcing a redial. It also sounds like something a Tarantino protagonist would shout while pumping someone’s head full of bullets.

McDonalds’ You Deserve a Break Today has an old-world charm, certainly more than I’m Lovin’ It. And We Bring Good Things to Life for GE is quaintly pleasing, far more so than the meaningless, aspirational Imagination At Work. Then again, these were the days before carbon emissions.

Forbes tells us that the simplicity of The Milk Chocolate Melts in Your Mouth, Not in Your Hand is what makes it so good. But if describing what a product does makes a tagline clever, why isn’t the Pampers slogan Keeps Baby Shit From Falling Out All Over The Place?

And Time to Make the Donuts? Surely the donuts have been made already? What?

You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby – Virginia Slims’ tagline for marketing fags at women – is well-loved, Forbes tells us. Is it? Is it really? Who loves it exactly? The best I can say about something that plays on womens’ fears of their own body image is that it smacks of a low animal cunning.

Reach Out and Touch Someone from AT&T is obviously problematic, while Be All You Can Be – for the US army – has a lot of obvious unfortunate rejoinders: ‘working-class cannon fodder’, perhaps?

Anyway, what I think stuff like this says about advertising is that it’s indelibly linked with a hazy nostalgia for time’s gone by. No-one’s immune to it. It’s the reason why old ads get a run out from time-to-time; the reason we form affinities with brands; the reason why articles like this exist.

Because we don’t love the taglines. We love the bittwerweet melancholy of remembering.

• What are the ‘best-loved’ UK advertising slogans? Some that seem typically British include Ah, Bisto!; Go To Work On An Egg; Beanz Meanz Heinz; Have A Break. Have A Kit-Kat; For Mash Get Smash; Hello Tosh, Gotta Toshiba…

The Stupid Dad Meme


Featured in an advert along with your family? Wrong side of 40? Bald? Fat? Regional accent? Then I have some bad news. The very thought of you makes your wife feel sick or pitying. Your kids hate you. You’re shit at your job. You can’t do DIY. Now that you have passed on your genes you are, essentially useless. You’re a stupid Dad.

Ads have always needed a fall-guy. Women were hideously ridiculed even a couple of decades ago; generally targeted for their apparent stupidity. Even in the 80’s women could be portrayed as fairly dumb without a hint of irony, but by the last decade of the 20th century that particular brand of chauvinism went the way of smoking adverts, the Hofmeister bear and tea-drinking chimps.

I’m sure if you go back far enough and look long enough there are ads that are explicitly racist and homophobic too, but nowadays it’s really only men who get it in the neck in ads. The Stupid Dad meme started to gain traction in the 90’s, when notions of sexism eventually caught up with the ad industry. In search of another butt of jokes about stupidity and uselessness, advertising turned to Dads.

Sure, you can make all sorts of arguments about the male gaze with no little basis, but women are off-limits to the ad creative if you want to make someone look clumsy, oafish or generally the punchline of a joke.

The Stupid Dad has several key characteristics. Generally it pays to have a Stupid Dad with a regional accent. This makes the Stupid Dad look more stupid.He must be obviously middle-aged, balding or bald, fat, decidedly stupid and unashamedly emasculated. Every Stupid Dad has clearly been castrated by his wife. Perhaps from time to time the kids taunt the Stupid Dad by throwing his unattached testicles to each other while he looks on haplessly.

Another key trait is that the Dad must be made to look stupid in the advert, preferably by his wife or small kids. This usually occurs when the Dad ridicules the product being sold. This reinforces the idea that to not buy this product you must be a bit of an arsehead.

There are several adverts that recently subscribed to the Stupid Dad meme: the Sainsburys Pork Chilli ad; some Butlins ads from about a year ago; and some ads that seem to be trying to encourage some vague form of environmentalism.

Probably the most offensive version of the Stupid Dad meme is a Somerfield advert from late 2007. Here, John is made out to be a complete duffer and publicly humiliated by his wife, Rose, for forgetting some groceries. The pair have now left our screens, probably due to the fact that John eventually snaps and stoves Rose’s head in with a frozen leg of lamb.

I don’t subscribe to the idea that the only persecuted demographic in the UK is the white working-class male, usually an excuse for racists to bemoan the fact that they’re not allowed to say n*****, but try putting any ethnic minority, child, woman, OAP, homosexual or otherwise-abled person in the Stupid Dad role and there’d be mayhem.

It’s a curious, if fairly harmless, double standard that rather seems to reflect the way the middle-aged man is shaping up in society. Beyond their pro-creational use they’re permanently bemused, technophobic, balless, sad and despised. The real role of the Stupid Dad is simply to be utterly redundant.

Some international Stupid Dads