Welcome back to our hero campaign series, where we ask the question – how can your ad become a classic?
When we talk about ‘hero’ campaigns, we’re referring to those ads that stand the test of time; they just never get old.
But what makes a great campaign? Is it the gorgeous design and art direction? Maybe the catchy jingle that sticks in your brain? Or maybe, it’s a simple word that hooks the audience in?
Today’s topic is language – the lingo you should be using so your ads and campaigns engage and engrain themselves into the audience’s minds in all the right ways.
So, pens at the ready! Let’s look back at how brands have used language to supercharge those ads into legendary status!
A formal request
Finding the right-fitting formality for your ad can be challenging. Do you take the safe route and address your audience politely, or do you risk it all and have fun with the informalities?
Your ad needs a personality, one rich across all aspects of a campaign. In fact, 33% of surveyed audiences say a distinct personality is what makes a brand stand out. So, how can you achieve this through language?
What does your brand seek to achieve; does it aim to inspire, educate, or entertain? Defining your brand’s personality is the first step to curating copy that works.
First airing on Monday Night Football (a rather smart placement), the ad encaptures the brand’s tone whilst respectfully embracing their key demographic. The informal catchphrase, though silly, feels genuine and highlights the value of spending time together with friends.
It’s rare to see one exclamatory question make such an influential wave. The catchphrase has become a pop-cultural sensation, appearing in popular media such as The Simpsons, The Office, and Scary Movie.
However, it’s even rarer for an ad to shape the way we converse with each other through our day-to-day. Whassup is not only a catchphrase; it’s now a common way in which we ask the question, “how’s it going?”
There are slogans and catchphrases everywhere you look, and it’s hard to cut through the noise unless you’ve thoroughly thought about your copy. The average consumer see’s up to 10,000 brand messages a day, which can undoubtedly lead to a lack of engagement. So how can you avoid this?
Keeping your language informal, expressive and relatable brings a human element that cuts through and gets straight to the point – like having a bevvy with boys. Don’t be afraid to let out your absurd side (if it fits your brand, of course!)
You talkin’ to me?
I’ve given up on rhetorical questioning; what’s the point, right? I’ll see myself out.
Rhetorical language is a next-level technique when it comes to engaging audiences and tempting them to purchase your products.
When you ask your customer a rhetorical question, it creates a continuous circle inside their mind, a loop that will keep going until that question finds an answer. If you play it right, that answer should be your brand!
Sure, the image of 3 grannies confused and screaming at customer services down the phone is funny on its own; but the tagline is what grabs the audience’s attention.
Wendy’s took the bold decision to target other fast-food companies whose beef quality was lacking in quality and size. The question digs into the audience’s brain – “hey, where IS the beef in my burger?” and the answer follows – “I guess Wendy’s has the beef!”
It sounds insanely straightforward, but sometimes a simple question can go a long way. For example, “Got Milk?” (1993) also asks a simple question, yet the campaign became another pop phenomenon whilst milk sales rose across America.
There are a couple of things to take away from this campaign. Firstly, questions don’t need to be long-winded or insanely niche. If they pack a punch or answer themselves, they’ll be an essential tool in the tagline arsenal.
Secondly, corporate research is a fantastic place for inspiration. Wendy’s tagline works because it answers the consumer’s needs at the time. A great rule for language (and campaigns in general) is catering to audience pressure points – be the voice that raises this issue, then solve it!
Verb the right way
What’s a wonderful way to persuade your audience to follow the funnel and answer those calls to action? By using words with actions, of course!
Verbs take on many forms, from linking points to helping a sentence find its structure. However, on the topic of marketing, they spice up your language and add some flavour to your slogan sachet.
I might be cheating a tad here, but it’s impossible to talk about verbs, advertising and the GOATS without referring to the vast and famous taglines that use verb-first techniques.
Take Nike’s “Just Do It”, for example – it doesn’t BS; it jolts the audience to take chances and go the extra mile (quite literally sometimes). Verbs can elicit a strong response when they’re imperatively strong themselves.
Apple’s “Think Different” campaign is another example of how verbs persuasively create a CTA. The slogan challenges the audience to step outside the box and get creative. Again, the verb’s role here is to instruct – it doesn’t ask the audience; it tells them.
Remember, you don’t have to fluff up your copy to make an impact; the boldest word can turn a weak slogan into a strong one.
It’s also important to remember gerunds. Put simply – gerunds are the “ing” at the end of a verb. Imagine these slogans with gerunds, “Just Doing It”… Sounds a bit weird, right?
However, if we look at McDonald’s “I’m Lovin’ It” slogan, the gerund adds something special to the menu. It presents Maccie’s food as continuously good; you don’t just love chicken nuggets – you love endlessly eating them (no judgement, me too).
Verbs can make or break a campaign. They can be short and striking, create a continuous CTA from the consumer, and from time to time, end up as iconic as the product itself.
To be continued…
The world of language and writing can be extremely intimidating at times, with so many rules and grammatical forms to keep up alongside.
However, the best practice is to keep writing! If a slogan isn’t working, play around with its wording. As a good starting point, we recommend reading your content (no matter the length) out loud to get a feel for the issue.
Remember, there’s a reason why pencils come with rubbers – because we need to make changes. Writing and language style are ongoing processes and takes time to perfect, but with each word comes great training.
If these amazing commercials can utilise engaging language – you can do it too! And with social media platforms such as TikTok and Instagram more relevant than ever, your sweet slogans will be trending in no time.
We’ve been very wordy today, so if you’d like a change of topic, then check out our blog on how other A+ campaigns have continued to glitter over the years. Don’t worry – we’ll be returning to the world of language in another copy-related blog soon!
There’s still a lot to cover if you want to be a writer for the ages. Keep up on our LinkedIn page for all our upcoming blogs about creative, copy and world-changing campaigns.
Until next time, if you’d like help supercharging your slogans – contact our creative team now.