Engines of Our Ingenuity

No. 2554
SLOGANS AND JINGLES

by Andrew Boyd

Today, “think different.” The University of Houston’s College of Engineering presents this series about the machines that make our civilization run, and the people whose ingenuity created them.

We’re surrounded by them. They greet us at breakfast, follow us to work, and intrude on our Internet and TV time. They’re advertisements — slogans in particular.

Food’s always been a popular subject for slogans. Our morning coffee may be “good to the last drop” while we eat the “breakfast of champions.” “Got milk” to go with it? For lunch, you can “have it your way,” or at least have something that’s “m’m m’m good.” Perhaps you’d prefer “two all beef patties special sauce lettuce cheese pickles onions on a sesame seed bun.” You won’t be left to ask, “where’s the beef?” And if you “can’t believe you ate the whole thing,” just remember: “plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is.”

Beverages hold a special place in the world of slogans. If it’s “everything you always wanted in a beer, and less,” then you know it also “tastes great,” but is “less filling.” And can you imagine that “when you say [this beer’s name], you’ve said it all”? Now that’s powerful.

But it’s still not the “real thing.” That’s reserved for a beverage that is “it,” and whose bottler would like to “grow apple trees and honey bees and snow white turtle doves.” It, however, is not “the choice of a new generation.” That title belongs to a beverage once sponsored by none other than Michael Jackson.

Michigan State University slogan

Great slogans aren’t limited to businesses. Government, charities, and other organizations get in on the act, too. We’re invited to “be all that we can be” and reminded that “a mind is a terrible thing to waste.” One university is “Advancing knowledge. Transforming lives.” Another proclaims, “No fences.” You can imagine it isn’t located in a large population center.

Of course, not all slogans are great. The “Houston’s Hot” campaign fizzled thanks to a little too much sizzle. The city should’ve taken a lesson from NASA, touting instead Houston’s “long summers, mild winters.” One airline’s “MEETING maker” fare sounded good, but was a real eye-popper when read with the wrong emphasis: the “meeting MAKER” fare. I for one have no desire to meet my maker on a plane flight.

So what makes a great slogan? That’s a tough question. Short. Clever. Even annoying. Who can forget this one?

[Audio: “Ring around the collar, ring around the collar!”]

It doesn’t hurt to have a catchy tune attached or a multi-million dollar budget for getting the message out. But whatever else they are, slogans are creative. So as you go through your day, sit back and reflect on the slogans all around you. “You deserve a break today.” So “think outside the bun.” And “just do it.”

I’m Andy Boyd at the University of Houston, where we’re … Learning. Leading.

University of Houston slogan

(Theme music)


The products and slogans mentioned in this episode:

Apple Computers Think different.
Maxwell House CoffeeGood to the last drop.
Wheaties The breakfast of champions.
Burger KingHave it your way.
Campbell’s Soups M’m m’m good.
McDonald’s Two all beef patties special sauce lettuce cheese pickles onions on a sesame seed bun.
Wendy’s Where’s the beef?
Alka Seltzer I can’t believe I ate the whole thing.
Alka Seltzer Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh, what a relief it is.
Miller Lite Everything you always wanted in a beer, and less.
Miller Lite Tastes great. Less filling.
Budweiser When you’ve said Budweiser, you’ve said it all.
Coke It’s the real thing.
Coke Coke is it.
Coke I’d like to buy the world a home, and furnish it with love. Grow apple trees and honey bees and snow white turtle doves. (Partial lyrics from a song as part of the “real thing” campaign.)
Pepsi The choice of a new generation.
United States Army Be all that you can be.
UNCF A mind is a terrible thing to waste.
Michigan State U. Advancing knowledge. Transforming lives.
U. of Idaho No fences. (Now retired.)
Wisk Detergent Ring around the collar.
McDonald’s You deserve a break today, so get up and get away to McDonald’s.
Taco Bell Think outside the bun.
Nike Just do it.
U. of Houston Learning. Leading.

 

Pictures are taken from the web sites of Michigan State University and the University of Houston.



The Engines of Our Ingenuity is Copyright © 1988-2009 by John H. Lienhard.