Think different? Still stupid.

I can’t believe I’m cannibalizing myself already, less than three months into this blogging thing. I blame my friend Dan, as I so often do. He called me last night imploring me to watch Victoria Beckham: Coming to America, and though the kids were begging for lullabies, really, I do have my priorities. Let’s just say Posh will be on my TiVo dance card, as she’s a female combination of my beloved Nigel Tufnel and Borat Sagdiyev, with just a touch of my Aunt Tommi around the nose and mouth.

But what really grabbed me, when I wasn’t closing my eyes hoping to avoid a glimpse of Posh’s tattooed tuchis, was the pair of ads I caught during a commercial break. The first, for Buick’s new porcine-snouted behemoth, ended with the slogan "Drive beautiful." The second, for Nabisco’s 100 calorie snack packs, exhorted "Snack purple." Two in a row following Apple’s Think different model?  I smell a blog post!

Well, as you can imagine, I dislike these slogans – not so much from a trademark perspective, as they superficially (and I didn’t delve into PTO records) appear registrable and protectable. No, I dislike them because of their willful distortion of the English language because some marketing genius is being cute.

The Buick one annoys me most, and apparently (a) I'm not alone and (b) as you can see from (a), neither is Buick: Chrysler introduced "Engineered Beautifully" less than two weeks before Buick launched "Drive beautiful." Oopsie! While Chrysler’s slogan is less jarring, it’s also likely less registrable, and yes, I know that’s the paradox the marketers face with these slogans and that’s why they create these weird hortatory slogans using phrases not actually found in the English language.

I know, I’m not the target customer for slogans like this. Rather than being transported to a world of luxury and beauty, as I like to think the marketers are fantasizing will be the reaction of the customer facing the "Drive beautiful" slogan, I am transported to a world of nagging questions: "Drive beautiful WHAT? Are you calling ME beautiful? Do you mean ‘beautifully’? And if so how does one drive beautifully – the car’s an automatic, it can’t have to do with clutch control!" It goes on like that.

Snack Purple, on the other hand, appears to be Nabisco’s effort to create a "zone" for "encouraging a positive relationship with food" through smart snacking, i.e., 100-calorie portions of what are still not particularly healthful snacks. While I still dislike the slogan format, I give Nabisco props for reinforcing the color as part of the trade dress of the product. I’m not convinced, though, that the phrase "Snack purple" gets me where they want me to go – it’s almost too remote from the smart snacking concept to draw in the consumer, in my opinion (and in this case I think I may be closer to Nabisco’s target demographic than to Buick's, based on the people in the Nabisco video). The Branding Blog says that purple is associated with nobility, spirituality, magic and prosperity, but I’m not making the leap to snacking empowerment there. I think the slogan may just be too random, in the words of the 'tweens I hang out with these days.

And just some anticipatory self-defense: I don’t have a beef with vague slogans per se; Just do it, where’s the beef, I’m lovin’ it, Coke is it, Is it soup yet? They may be vague, but used properly, they’re often registrable, at least in the US. But vague slogans that violate laws of grammar and logic just bug me.


What did you think of this article?

  • No trackbacks exist for this post.

  • 9/24/2007 9:18 AM cassie goddard wrote:
    Thank God someone else has this issue- this is a true pet peeve. I believe the mangling of grammar began with the "Eat Healthy" campaign in the early 90's. Eat Healthy WHAT? Food? I just can't buy products that make me rant.
    Reply to this
  • 9/24/2007 11:45 AM Jessica Stone Levy wrote:
    You mean like "Eat fresh"?  I'm with you!
    Reply to this
Leave a comment

Submitted comments are subject to moderation before being displayed.

 Name (required)

 Email (will not be published) (required)


Your comment is 0 characters limited to 3000 characters.