An early advertising slogan is one of the best known, even today. Ivory soap was first produced in 1879. Samples were sent to chemists for analysis. The company wanted comparisons with castile soap, a popular Spanish soap product at the time. The total of ingredients not pure soap was 56/100ths. Subtracting from 100, the “99 and 44/100ths percent pure” became a pledge of quality to consumers, and eventually the product’s advertising slogan. The catchphrase “it floats” was added in 1891. This quality was a big deal at the time. Competitive soaps did not float. Consumers raved about the Ivory product which did not sink and was, therefore, easily retrieved from a basin or tub.
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The Early Years
Advertising slogans proliferated as mass-produced items competed for the consumer’s dollar. The phrase “All the news that’s fit to print” was introduced by the New York Times in 1896. A female executive of the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency in New York City coined the term “the skin you love to touch” for Woodbury’s Facial Soap. The ad campaign, initiated in 1911, proved successful and lasted more than a decade. Businesses were not the only ones aware of the power of the written or spoken word. During World War I a British ad campaign exhorted: “Your Country Needs You.” The United States modified the slogan slightly and used it in both world wars: “I want YOU for the US Army.” Another World War II government slogan became famous: “Loose Lips Sink Ships.”
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The Introduction of Radio
The spread of radio by the early 1920s increased the value of spoken jingles. The “I’d walk a mile for a Camel,” cigarette campaign began in 1921. Listerine coined the sad refrain: “Always a bridesmaid, never a bride,” in 1923. The Hoover vacuum cleaner company introduced the slogan: “It beats – it sweeps – as it cleans” in 1926. “Breakfast of Champions,” was pioneered in 1935, altered slightly to “The Breakfast of Champions,” and the Wheaties slogan was used into the 1990s. Coca-Cola introduced “It’s the real thing” in 1941.
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The Age of Prosperity
The end of World War II ushered in a period of rising prosperity. New mediums, including television then cable TV, MTV and the Internet, expanded the range and creativity of advertising. The power of advertising slogans to command the attention and dollars of consumers cannot be underestimated. Sayings introduced decades ago are still fondly recalled by people who remember the original ads; examples include the 1950s “A little dab’ll do ya” for Brylcreem; Roto-Rooters’ slogan still used today, “Away those troubles down the drain”; the 1948 DeBeers ad “A diamond is forever,” also still heard today. You could “See the USA in your Chevrolet,” and Wisk Detergent washed away “ring around the collar” dates back to 1968.
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The 1960s and Beyond
The 1960s ushered in an era where advertisers focused on campaigns designed to associate a brand with specific qualities. The Volkswagen campaign coined two phrases, “Think Small,” and “Lemon,” referring to the color of the car. The United Airlines slogan was used from its introduction in 1966 until 1997: “Fly the Friendly Skies.” The “I love New York (City)” campaign started in 1977. Ronald Reagan told us, “It’s morning again in America,” during his 1984 Presidential campaign.
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Advertising Slogans and American Culture
A recent survey of college students conducted by the University of Texas found that 90 percent of those surveyed recognized the slogans of 10 major companies. They included Nike’s “Just do it,” M&M’s “Melts in your mouth, not in your hands,” and Rice Krispies, “snap, crackle, pop.” These young people recognized Frosted Flake’s “they’re grrreat!” and the U.S. Army’s “Be all that you can be.” Advertising slogans have become a part of our culture. Slogans that catch on last in our memories long after advertising campaigns end, and even after the product has disappeared.
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