Are these the most memorable advertising slogans ever? And how brand reputation is hard to prove

It’s late January, the sun’s shining, the Australian Open has just come an end, and yet our passion for IP remains undiminished.  To that end, Creative Review’s Top 20 slogans of ALL time caught the eye last week.  Based in the UK, Creative Review is a publication focussing on all forms of visual communication.  They’re keen for you to buy the magazine, so we won’t give their whole game away other than to unveil a few of the top picks.  See their link for more.  We’ve also come up with our own…  

Creative Review’s number one?  (drum roll please) …  It’s “Beanz Meanz Heinz”.  Yes, it even beat Nike’s “Just do it.”  Others that made the list included: “It’s the Real Thing.  Coke.”  and “Have a break, have a Kit Kat”. 

There were also a few examples which were almost wholly unfamiliar, reflecting the UK-centric nature of the magazine. How about: Tesco’s “Every little helps” (Ranked No. 5).  Or “It is.  Are you?” (The Independent. Ranked No. 9).  These examples highlight how much “reputation” in a brand resides with the consumer’s perceptions rather than just the brand owner’s ambitions.  One can certainly appreciate objectively a nice sounding or clever jingle.  However, it’s the meaning – and often the sense of shared meaning – of growing up with a slogan or jingle, the memories associated with this, and no doubt its significant repetition over time, which grab the subconscious and won’t let it go.

Now, try proving that to a court!  Proving “reputation” in a brand is a key ingredient for a passing off action, amongst others. It’s no wonder that legal authorities in Australia are keen for the plaintiff to show, not only use of a brand over a period of time, but also the corresponding consumer reaction to it.  And yet, it is hard to demonstrate the affection, trust, and sub-conscious elements we feel in brands through a statistical survey of consumers.  Equally, we cannot assume that a judge’s life-experience is the same as our own. 

Speaking hypothetically, what if you wanted to prove reputation in Ninja Turtles, or Jimmy Choo shoes, or KingGee work shirts, or LinkedIn?  Each of these brands is underpinned by particular assumptions about the relevant consumer.  These consumer segments may, or may not, overlap.  The challenge for the lawyer is to convey to a judge – who may be unfamiliar with the brand – that this is iconic!  Statistics do come into play of course: sales figures, advertising spots, marketing briefs, the results of consumer focus groups and the like.  Bringing these statistics to life in a court room though, is where the advocate faces the most significant challenge.

Of course, one can’t escape this discussion without reflecting on a personal list of largely Australian Top 20 advertising slogans.  These are the ones which call to mind nostalgic moments, sometimes a groan, but are never easily forgotten.   And they were compiled over heated debate at a dinner table (with wine).  So they will not appeal to everyone, which is basically the whole point of this discussion:

1. We’re happy little Vegemites – Vegemite

2. Aussie kids are Weetbix kids – Weetbix

3. Not happy Jan – Yellow Pages

4. The fish John West rejects – John West

5. Matter of fact, I’ve got it now – VB

6. Lucky you’re with AAMI – AAMI

7. Slip Slop Slap – Cancer Council Victoria

8. Five Cougars Thanks – Cougar Bourbon (NB: contentiously debated item!)

9. Good on you Mum, Tip Top’s the One.  Good on you Mum. – Tip Top

10. I like Aeroplane Jelly – Aeroplane Jelly

11. You ought to be congratulated – Meadow Lea

12. Up up and away, with TAA – Trans Australia Airlines

13. Life. Be in it. – Australian Government

14. There’s no other store like David Jones – David Jones; MyStore – Myer (Equal 14th for diplomacy!)

15. Oils ain’t oils – Castrol

16. My dad picks the fruit to make the cordial that I like best – Cottee’s

17. I’ll slip a shrimp on the barbie for you (Paul Hogan) – Australian Tourism Commission

18. I feel like a Tooheys – Tooheys

19. Why is it so? (Professor Sumner Miller) – Cadbury Dairy Milk

20. C’mon Aussie c’mon on – World Series Cricket

Honorary mentions go to:

A. Sic ’em Rex – Antz Pantz

B. Tahiti looks nice – Cussons Imperial Leather

C. Beautiful one day, perfect the next – Queensland Tourist Board

D. If you drink and drive, you’re a bloody idiot – Transport Accident Commission (Victoria)

If you disagree or can add to the list, let us know in “Comments” and we’ll load it up.

And if you’re in the mood for cross-referencing, have a look at the Advertising Federation of Australia’s Top 30 advertisements of all time.  It’s a few years old now, but well worth a look, particularly for the video clip of a (very) young Naomi Watts eschewing a date with Tom Cruise in favour of a lamb roast.  Classic stuff!

4 Replies to “Are these the most memorable advertising slogans ever? And how brand reputation is hard to prove”

  1. Natalie, Always an interesting debate and it’s interesting how these slogans get traction and become memorable. I’ve always believed that ‘Not happy Jan’ was simply a line from the ad that got incredible traction with the public and usurped the overall brand line/slogan which I think at that time was still probably ‘Let your fingers do the walking’. The humour and power of that line came from the actor and the direction. In the wrong hands it could have come across as being very mundane. Two I’d add are the old CBA line ‘Which bank?’ which underpinned some great campaigns for years and the Victorian tourism line ‘You’ll love every little piece of Victoria’ which again has led to some incredibly different tourism campaigns. Regards

  2. Overlooked ad slogan

    Can’t help feeling that “Don’t be a tosser…” (Fed Govt anti-smoking campaign) should be in there somewhere… Classic Aussie cultural trait of directness on display, which seemed to work well (in contrast to “Where the bloody hell are you?”)!

  3. Laurie is definitely on the money (*boom boom*) with the “Which Bank?” slogan for the Commonwealth Bank.
    Other favourites I’d add to the list are:

    “The Fresh Food People” (Woolworths);
    “It’s gotta be red” (Red Rooster) and
    “It’s time” (Australian Labour Party).

    The “Five cougars please” phenomenon(?) clearly passed me by …

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