We like to think that we live in a cut-throat world which is in many ways harder than ever before and whilst modern day customers and consumers are more sophisticated than ever. The problems of getting the word out on the street through advertisements, taglines and straplines are as old as business itself.

 

For centuries in the ancient and medieval world, there was no formal advertising as products were popularized simply by word of mouth but as soon as the printing press was up and running 500 years ago taglines became necessary. The first printed advertisements soon followed. By the 17th and 18th century, the weekly London newspapers were packed with adverts and slogans, ranging like today between the must-have products and those whose taglines were simply unbelievable.

 

19Th Century Straplines

The 19th century saw a huge growth in corporate business and this was accompanied by the growth of an advertising industry. It was during that century primarily in the U.S that saw the establishment of advertising agencies.

At the time they started off as brokers for space in newspapers rather than modern day ad agencies. By the early 20th century, ad agencies became involved in producing the advertising message itself including the artwork and taglines.

The Birth of the Jingle

The spread of radio sets in the 1930s led to a advertising jingles hitting the airwaves.  Unlike modern taglines, these were often lyrical slogans sung out to entice buyers.

Slogans that may sound odd tour our ears today were hugely popular at the time as they fitted the way of the life at the time.  Early Harley-Davidson’s had a tagline of ‘the motorcycle that is not uncomfortable’.  It is hard to imagine a modern campaign encouraging us to buy a computer with a tagline of “The computer that doesn’t crash”.

 

Slogans for Service

 

The 1940’s saw slogans that either emphasized an organizations commitment to the war effort or those that stressed its all-American heritage.  The driving force of consumerism changed everything after World War II and housewives were encouraged to buy the latest home accessories to make their lives easier such as freezer units, washing machines and cleaning products.  There were so many that they even gave a name to the TV shows they were advertised between, Soap Operas.

 

Savvy Slogans

 

The 1980’s and 90’s saw consumers become more savvy with advertising and as such longer slogans became replaced by shorter taglines and the focus shifted onto leisure time.  Many of these are still with us today such as Nike’s ‘Just do it’.

 

Whatever the era of the ad, the basic rules were the same, be clear, have a catchy slogan and be in tune with the great American Public. If you remember these basic proven rules when thinking about your slogan or tagline then you’ll be on the way to success.