I tend to be a libertarian. Do your own thing as long as it doesn’t harm others. Live and let live. Laissez-faire and all that. However, I’d like to propose a piece of federal legislation that is decidedly un-libertarian.
I propose a federal, if not global, ban on several tagline formulas that wore out their welcome—and their power—decades ago. Yet countless organizations continue to trot out these flaccid lines, seemingly oblivious to the fact that such lines are ubiquitous and therefore no longer capable of evoking or conveying anything beyond a yawn or a rolling of the eyes.
There are, no doubt, dozens of such formulas, but I’d settle for a ban on just these three:
– Such and such. For life.
– Blah blah blah means business.
– Yadda yadda matters.
In each case, the line is playing on the offending word or phrase’s double meaning, i.e.:
. . . For life.
- For a long, long time.
- Supporting, enhancing, contributing to life or a better life.
Partial list of examples. (I won’t bother with a list for the next two tagcrimes, because it would be too long, and anyway, you are, I’m sure, well familiar with them.)
Dominicks. Ingredients For Life.
Panasonic. Ideas For Life.
Volvo. For Life.
Bosch. Invented for life.
HealthKey. Unlock Your Potential—For Life.
Abbott. A Promise For Life.
I forget which Prescription Drug. Take It For Life.
TwinLab (Multivitamins) Answers. For Life.
Kashi Good Friends Cinna-raisin Crunch. Good Friends For Life.
(Admittedly, a headline, not a tagline, but equally criminal)
Iams. Good For Life.
Dux. The Bed For Life.
Everest. With You For Life.
AAA Membership. For Life.
. . . Means business.
- We’re really, really serious about what we do.
- Our brand isn’t just about business as an activity or discipline, or about some particular business, we equate ourselves with business; we eat, sleep, live and breathe it; when you think of business, think of us.
. . . Matters.
- A subject of concern, feeling or action
- To be of importance
Don’t get me wrong. I like a good play on words as much or more than the next guy. Operative term: good.
The above plays on words aren’t good. There may have been a time when they were good. The first time, or even the first few times, that these were used in the context of a tagline, they may have been clever, evocative, meaningful. But that was four or five or six decades ago.
In the years between, these word plays have been played to death, buried, reincarnated and died again. I still have an Ad Age article in my archives written in the early 90’s decrying the overuse of “means business.” That was 20 YEARS AGO.
Is there seriously anyone out there who has opted for one of these taglines, thinking that they were the first to come across this cleverness?
Banning these taglines would, I realize, be a gargantuan task. Perhaps we could grandfather in those tagline more than 30 years old. And banish the remainder in phases.
Can I count on your support?
Are there other egregious tagline formulas worthy of banning?
Jim Morris is a tagline specialist. You can find him on the web at TaglineJim.com