Obviously, I have been in the marketing communications business way too long. I know this because I now have the tendency to dissect taglines–searching for hidden meaning, as well as the reason for their existence.
Here are two prime examples.
I was recently visiting Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. On the door of their Facilities Management vehicles, the slogan beneath their iconic shield is: “We Care”. To my occasionally cynical business mind, this tagline/slogan was developed only to combat a popular feeling amongst those familiar with this fine Ivy League Institution, that this particular department really didn’t care — or worse, couldn’t care less.
I am not saying that this is true, it’s just the way that marketing mind has been reconfigured over the past three decades.
Although, when you really think about it, why would an organization spend the time and resources developing such a communications device — if it wan’t attempting to squelch a popular belief amongst the general population? Why wouldn’t they care? Why is there the need to announce it? If I am paying a gazillion dollars for a college education, I would only hope that they care-even just a little!
I recently found another example of “sketchy” marketing copy on the label of a gallon of spring water purchased at a local convenience store. Not only is the plastic jug’s content spring water, it is “Select” spring water. This begs the question — are there multiple grades of spring water, as in gasoline? What determines which is regular spring water, mid-grade spring water or select? Does select spring water carry more important vitamins and minerals? Or is the regular variety more likely to contain leaf particles and pollywog residue?
My marketing copywriter pal, Jim Montgomery often describes taglines (or slogans) as barnacles that often grow on the bottom of a boat. From time to time, they just need to be scraped off. – Doug.