The life of a famous slogan writer isn’t one of fame although it can lead to fortune. Take the case of Michael J. Roarty Jr. the man who cooked up the legendary beer taglines “This Bud’s for you” and “Weekends are made for Michelob.” Almost every man, woman and child in the United States is familiar with those catchphrases but not with the man behind them.
Familiarity Breeds Success
Roarty was a highly successful slogan writer because he understood the product he was selling and the market. Roarty was the son of Irish immigrants from Detroit he knew beer and he knew the American working class and what they drank.
During his tenure as vice president and director of marketing for Anheuser-Busch from 1977-1990, Roarty proved the power of catchy slogans by nearly doubling the brewing giant’s sales. The taglines worked because they appealed directly to the American working class’s desire for a cheap beer that tasted good.
Roarty also understood the connection between sports and beer well hence the “Weekends are made for Michelob” campaign. He knew that beer was associated with recreation and sports. Roarty’s contributions to sports included buying advertising on an unknown network named ESPN in 1980 and creating the pop culture icon known as the Bud Bowl.
In 1993, Roarty was even named as the sixth most powerful man in sports by The Sporting News. He recognized the potential appeal of sports and sports related slogans before many other marketing gurus did. Roarty was so synonymous with Anheuser-Busch that he was known as “Mr. Budweiser.”
What you can learn from Mr. Budweiser
So what lessons can today’s slogan writers learn from Mr. Budweiser and his legendary taglines. Some very important ones including:
- Establish and constantly demonstrate a bond with your customers. “This Bud’s for you” indicates that Budweiser is for everybody or more importantly the common people. The slogan shows that Anheuser-Busch cares about beer drinkers and makes a product for them.
- Know your audience well. Understand what they like and care about, even if you don’t approve of it. If your customers like sports or comic books cater to their tastes. Roarty did that constantly with slogans like “weekends are for Michelob.” If you don’t know what your audience likes do some research and find out what recreational activities they enjoy. If the people in your community love football or soccer consider basing taglines on football or soccer phrases.
- Be honest with your audience and don’t make promises in taglines. “This Bud’s for you” and other Roarty classic “Gimme a light” (for light beer). Don’t promise anything to the customers nor do they raise expectations. Instead they simply note that those products are good basic beers. Many taglines fall flat because they make promises that entrepreneurs cannot possibly keep.
- Look for alternative advertising outlets. The advertising landscape is constantly changing, so take advantage of it. Back in 1980 ESPN was something of a joke broadcasting third rate wrestling matches and sports nobody had heard of. Yet Roarty recognized the network’s potential and got in on the ground floor. Whenever you see a new advertising medium take a close look you might be onto something big.
Slogan writing can lead to success, fame and fortune. It also takes perseverance and a good understanding of the market and human nature as Michael J. Roarty’s success proved.