These five phrases are the most egregious examples of marketing sayings that desperately need to be replaced by something – ANYTHING. Additionally, being the eagerly generous and kind person that I am, I have offered real-world translations of each so as to help you better approximate the context and true meaning of the words that have incrementally made me dumber than I was before I was aware of them.
Every Friday, I’m compiling a list of five things that meet one criterion. “What is that criterion,” you ask? Well, it’s going to change every week and you’re just going to have to try and keep up.
Five Slogans That Need to be Put Out to Pasture
The world exists in phases. In this century, things are produced and fired into our faces at a rate we can’t even really comprehend; slogans and ad campaigns are the best barometers for just how quickly and frequently gears are shifted in our culture.
What fails to effectively reach people one evening will be gone in a flash forever and conversely, whatever effort hits even the slightest sweet spot will never ever be abandoned for fear of possibly replacing that extremely modest success with another failure.
And it is in this cautious “stick with what works, even if it barely works and we refuse to challenge ourselves and inject some creativity into this model” mindset that I find ample room for improvement.
The five phrases below are the most egregious examples of sayings that desperately need to be replaced by something – ANYTHING. Additionally, being the eagerly generous and kind person that I am, I have offered real-world translations of each so as to help you better approximate the context and true meaning of the words that have incrementally made me dumber than I was before I was aware of them.
5. “Live. Laugh. Love.” – a lot of places
I have no idea from where this originated and/or who is most responsible for popularizing it as a rudimentary instruction manual for day-to-day life (I think we can safely blame MySpace, as that seems to cause most problems on our planet) but it is positively everywhere.
Now, here’s the weird thing: whenever something experiences an explosion of success, it’s usually because nothing even remotely similar to that phenomenon had ever come along before, yes? Well, then how do you explain this thing? These words have been around for a really long time, people. Did nobody ever bother to investigate their definitions until all three of them were jammed together and marketed as some sort of simple mantra? I can’t even begin to process it.
Regardless, apparently no one considered living, laughing, and loving in unison all that important or positive until TJ Maxx made multicolored typographic art prints of them, slapped them in a cheap frame, and sold them to college girls for $17.99 a pop.
Actual meaning: “You know the good things about being alive? Do those things.”
4. “Come and get your love.” – Alltel Wireless
…I don’t really need to explain why this is absurd, do I?
Mercifully, this should not be around much longer as Verizon’s complete acquisition of Alltel will be finished by the summer. When (if) this slogan does fade away, I plan to take credit.
Actual meaning: “We’re a telecommunications company, honest. Our boss just really loves Redbone. Seriously, we never have had any sort of interest in the flesh trade.”
3. “Now you’re eating.” – Pizza Hut
As Papa John’s continued to grow in popularity and power across America, the once-proud king of American chain pizza restaurants known as Pizza Hut went back to the drawing board. They toiled over the question of how to topple this meteoric rival. “‘Better ingredients, better pizza’ is such an ingenious, honest and direct culinary proclamation to the people of this country – how did we miss it?”
Then, inspiration hit them like a bolt of lightning. The products of their own company and all rivals’ have one unifying thread: they’re all foodstuffs. And in order to appreciate that sort of product, one must ingest it. They moved forward with a campaign centered on the phrase “Eat pizza, please.”
After a few meetings, a lone voice spoke up: “what if people follow our advice but eat other kinds of pizza?” A large discussion broke out. Finally, the President of Marketing was ready to speak: “Have you ever heard someone say ‘now you’re talking’? They’ll say it when you say something that they agree with. It’s cool; it’s got a very hip vibe. Okay. Well, we’ll just let everyone know that if they eat something that we, at Pizza Hut, agree with… we’ll tell them.”
For the next thirteen minutes, only applause and sobs of happiness could be heard throughout the corporate headquarters.
Actual meaning: “We only agree with you eating Pizza Hut food. So don’t bring Chipotle in here and expect any pats on the back.”
2. “You gotta eat.” – Rally’s
I once lived in a world where I was unsure as to whether or not I needed to consume food to survive. I wandered from day to day, seeking advice. Should I be eating? What should I eat? Are you sure? Wait, I’m supposed to eat more than once per day? Really? For how many days should I do this? I didn’t believe my ears. Nobody seemed informed or qualified enough to give me a definitive answer.
Enter: Rally’s. Their food, though questionable (even as far as fast food goes), was seemingly so essential to one’s diet that its mere existence begged the company’s corporate overlords to tell the world. Their marketing people then decided to lay down an ironclad blanket statement of instruction around which I could not maneuver. I must eat. They said so.
Actual meaning: “Look, we know our food isn’t good for you. You know our food isn’t good for you. We know that you know. But seriously, if you’re considering our fare, you’re going to eat crappy food from somewhere so… why not us?”
1. “I’m lovin’ it.” – McDonald’s
I still don’t know how this thing lasted until now. It’s been six years. Six mind-numbingly stupid years. What does this phrase communicate to anyone? Clearly the point of any commercial marketing is to attract new customers, yes? So what good does a company announcing “we’re really supportive of our own product and company” do for someone who is unfamiliar with said company? Who sees that, thinks “hey, wait a second – McDonald’s really likes itself… I think I’ll go check them out” and subsequently contributes to their fast food empire? I didn’t understand then and I don’t understand now.
Actual meaning: “Remember when we had Justin Timberlake in our commercials for a little while? He’s awesome, isn’t he? Have you ever seen him on Saturday Night Live? Anyway, remember that one part of those commercials where he would coo ‘I’m lovin’ it’? Didn’t you love that? He’s such a good singer. And he was in our commercial, once. Come reward us for our old and fleeting association with him.”
Does the perpetuation of ridiculously poor product slogans really matter? No, not at all. But everyone is familiar with them and every reasonable person is tired of them; that’s what makes these five mottoes so much fun to rip apart.
I could have broken down something really deep and meaningful for you but “Five Mathematical Theorems That Have Little Chance of Rivaling the Breadth or Import of Pythagoras’ Most Famous Formula” would have been boring. And the title is a little wordy.