We first brought you the ten best, now here are what could be the ten worst slogans ever. What do you think?
“Probably the Best Beer in the World” (Carlsberg Beer)
How you would hope to sell some Carlsberg when you’re just not sure how good the beer is beats me. I think a potential customer’s thoughts would be: “It probably isn’t, so I think I’ll buy something else” Fail!
“Make 7-Up Yours” (7-Up)
Really? Nothing against 7-Up personally but the phrase “up yours” is generally thought to be on the rude side. How many people nodded their heads when this suggestion was made and how the heck did it get through to publication?
“Food for the Fun of It” (Frito Lay)
Consumers generally don’t need to be reminded that snacks are not nutritionally rich, not when you are trying to sell them more of your product anyway. Being so frightfully honest is not too common in the snack peddling business but there you go, hats off to Frito Lay for being honest.
“Dieting doesn’t work, Weight Watchers does.” (Weight Watchers)
I am not convinced whoever came up with this slogan really put their heart into it. Mention Weight Watchers and people will automatically think “dieting” so how you would expect to dissociate the two is beyond me.
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“What beer drinkers drink when they’re not drinking beer” (O’Doul’s Malt Beer – Anheuser-Busch)
Beer drinkers love beer and when they’re not drinking beer they would rather be drinking beer. This slogan fails at trying to convince certified beer drinkers there is room for some non alcoholic, beer impersonating beverage. No chance.
“More Doctors Smoke Camels than Any Other Cigarette” (Camel)
Okay, this is an old one but I can’t see it ever working. Not to mention the fact it’s tragically misleading too.
Drive One (Ford)
Is this the best the executives at Ford could come up with or they were not that bothered? Even a kindergarten kid could do better.
“The more you play with it the harder it gets” (SEGA)
Whatever were SEGA referring to here? This one is not necessarily the worst headline, rather a bit inappropriate with some innuendo thrown in.
“Travel should take you places” (Hilton Hotels)
Well, duh! Why point out the bleedin’ obvious! Rumour has it Paris came up with this one all by herself.
Because not everyone likes licorice (Bassett’s Fruit Allsorts)
Licorice Allsorts were a classic sweet brand back in the day. But when the company wanted to branch out into new flavours why on earth did it insist on still banging on about licorice? Just look: it screams “Licorice!” three times while barely even mentioning the new fruity innovation.
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The first one drew me in. I mean Tuborg is just down the road, and IMO they’re better. lol
These slogans and your comments gave me a good laugh today and you’re right, the marketers behind these did not put much thought into them. Go ahead, quote me: “This is probably one of the most entertaining blog posts I’ve read this week!” ;)
You’re too kind Jessica. Thx.
My all-time favorite horrible tagline is: If it doesn’t say Jiffy Lube, it’s not Jiffy Lube.
Guess this is where Apple got their new slogan, “If it’s not an iphone, it’s not an iphone.”
Patrick, with respect, I feel you have missed the point of the humorous Carlsberg ad. There is an equivalence between the two statements in the ad, both of structure and conclusion. Probably a rabbit? No…without a doubt, definitely a rabbit. Therefore: Probably the best beer in the world? Per the rabbit example, we know what to think here. Carlsberg is without a doubt, definitely the best beer in the world.
However, even with nothing but “Probably the best beer in the world,” I don’t see the negatives you do. The phrase positions the beer at or near the top among all beers even implying a kind of consensus of opinion. A good place to be. (Again though, the rabbit ad leaves no doubt that Carlsberg is the best.) Even if one disagrees with their claim, it doesn’t follow that something not quite the best would be deemed unworthy and shunned as you suggest.
Fair enough, Robert. And I have to admit that any slogan that’s run for as long as this one must be doing something right!
Hmm I agree with Robert. The Carlsberg slogan is perfect; instantly recognisable, witty and clearly pretty successful as they’re an enormously popular brand. I don’t think I know anybody who doesn’t at least know this line, if not like it.
And don’t overlook that they don’t have to prove the claim, as they would have if they’d said “The best beer in the world.” So they deliver the same message without the ad-nannies hectoring them for proof.
Also, I think the Weight Watchers slogan is fine too. They’re not trying to dissociate themselves from dieting – the whole point of Weight Watchers is it’s a way to lose weight without counting calories and starving yourself. It’s for people who’ve tried dieting and now need an alternative, so the line is pretty spot on, I reckon. Sorry – I’ll stop arguing with you now!
Ha! Feel free to argue Siobhan!
The basic problem with slogans: if they’re not EPIC (and in my humble opinion, none of the mentioned are)
they fade away very soon in the consumers eye…ear and subconcieness.
In these cases I would prefer to use a variation of slogans in unrepeated, quick succession tailored around the product or potential target groups or both.
Probably I’m wrong….
OMG, you used “EPIC” in a conversation to support an argument. Word up.
As entertaining as your comments are, I do think you miss the point on several. As mentioned above, the Carlsberg example is that “obviously” replaces “probably” in the context of the ad. Also, the line is meant to be read conversationally, not curiously. The Weight Watchers line is great, imo. Much better than your normal diet; I get it. Travel should take you places – you’re missing the double meaning, travel should take you places emotionally, not just physically. Again, I get it and I like it. Make 7-UP yours – I don’t read it Make 7 up yours, I read it Make 7-UP …. yours. It’s a bland line though. Agree on O’Douls – when this beer drinker isn’t drinking beer, I’m drinking wine. Sometimes water, but never non-alcoholic beer. Ick.
I’ve known people that drink O’Doul’s beer – (I personally hate beer) – the ones that I know that have drank it is because they weren’t allowed to drink an alcoholic beverage, but likes the taste of beer.
Cheers, Rick. We agree on one thing: non-alcoholic beer is awful stuff!
The worst (although memorable) slogan I’ve seen is for cat food, the slogan being “As good as it looks”. And guess what the company’s called? Pussi.
I agree with the Carlsberg and Weightwatchers defenses, but would also like to defend the Sega one as well. It doesn’t work for me personally, but then I’m not the market. The young males who were the target market in those days would have loved it…
I suppose you’re right, Corrie. It’s just a bit crass, though, isn’t it? Would you like that in your portfolio of ads to show a new employer?
I have to disagree with you on the Carlsberg ad. This use of probably was, and still is, one of the best ideas ever. Even today, Carlsberg end their adds with ‘Probably …’. It’s difficult to define precisely why it works. I reckon it’s the use of ‘probably’ is surprisingly self-depracating and this makes it appealing. Anyway, what I think is irrelevant. The continued success of the brand along with the continued use of the word, makes this probably the best ad campaign ever ;-)
Yes, I think we’re reaching a consensus on this one, Stephen. It’s probably the best slogan in the list.
Oh, so many they make my head spin. So I’ll just go with Carlsberg. I like “probably.” It invites thinking. And thinking is engagement.
Patrick, I understand your comment: “a potential customer’s thoughts would be: “It probably isn’t, so I think I’ll buy something else.” It harkens back to the adage of not asking a question to which someone could easily answer “no.”
Must say it’s a lot tougher to post your opinions and invite responses than it is to agree or disagree with someone else’s post. So, cheers to you, with Carlsberg, O’Doul’s, or 7-UP, for starting this conversation.
Thanks for continuing the conversation Corrie!
I think the new Buick commercials don’t make any sense, “That’s not a Buick” – comes across as the Buicks made before that time were junk. https://youtu.be/aSoafkSxorY
Maybe that’s what they want you to believe. Personally, I don’t think it means they were junk; I think it means they don’t look like the old, staid, tired brand.
Another Buick commercial – what are they trying to say – whatever it is … I don’t think it’s coming out right. https://youtu.be/exA-uOlH3mA
Makes you wonder how agencies sell ideas like this to the client, doesn’t it!
I like them all except Hilton.
A lot of people in this biz forget that we’re not the audience.
I disagree with all those who disagree that these ads are the worst ever. Probably?
We are a tough bunch of critics, but with the exception of Carlsberg, there are some classic “what were they thinking” moments.
Love to see everyone’s favourite lines. “I think they bought a Jeep”
That Jeep one is really good!
Patrick, there’s nothing about you on the ABOUT page, but from your post I conclude that you haven’t worked in, or studied, advertising for very long.
If you look at the context of each campaign, you’ll see that these are all very good lines. Even if you don’t know the history of these brands, it is possible to backwards engineer each and come up with a good idea of what the brief was.
#1 The message of the poster is Carlsberg IS the best, or did you miss the rabbit?
The overlooked context in this case is this is a transit poster. The audience gets to look at it for a while, so the message can be delivered in a subtle, offhand way. It’s just as easy for something to think “it probably is” as “it probably isn’t.”
#2 Make 7-up yours campaign was created to re-invigorate the brand with irreverence and “edginess.” It encouraged adoption among particular demographics as represented by spokesman Orlando Jones. Make 7 Up yours ran 1999-2005. It was a very successful campaign with its audience (see SEGA).
#3 This line was used to build the identity of the Frito Lay corporation. It is a nice way of saying “we make snacks.” The slogan wasn’t used in connection with any particular food product.
#4 This is a great slogan. Weight Watchers is not just a diet. It is a complete lifestyle program. That’s what the slogan says. It’s not a diet–its something better and it works. If you knew anything about Weight Watchers, you wouldn’t have put it on the list.
#5 I bet the target audience of O’Doul’s is not beer drinkers. You will not convert real beer drinkers to non alcoholic beer. NA beer is meant for people who don’t drink for cultural or health reasons or because you’re the designated driver. The slogan reassures those drinkers that O’Doul’s is good to drink. (Beck’s NA is better).
#6 “Doctors recommend…” is still a good way to sell things like pain relievers and toothpaste. You cannot judge ancient ads using today’s knowledge. In fact, lots of medical professionals now are smokers because there is almost nothing better or more convenient for relieving stress than tobacco.
And, again, it’s a headline, not a slogan.
#7 Here’s one where you have to know the context to judge the slogan. At the end of last century Ford had a terrible reputation for quality. Pinto anyone? The company overhauled their models and manufacturing. Ford needed to demonstrate to buyers that they really were making better cars. The test drive was their #1 marketing tool.
The slogan works because people were not driving Fords. It works for the part that is unsaid– Drive one, you’ll be surprised. Drive one and you’ll buy one.
Ford continued on this path with variations on the theme including “Quality is Job One” and “Have You Driven a Ford Lately.”
#8 Who was the audience for SEGA Genesis? Now do you think this is a bad headline?
#9 What Rick said.
I’m guessing this slogan means “Why stay in a vapid, generic hotel room, especially if you are visiting someplace exotic or exciting.” This line also hints at the hilton rewards program.
#10 First, the irony is attention getting and second, this line says a couple of things at once.
Not everyone likes (black) licorice–so allsorts is a different, more flavorful licorice.
Not everyone (thinks they) like licorice–until they try Allsorts.
Not everyone likes licorice–so add fruity candy to it.
As a professional don’t rush to judgement. Marketing professionals don’t make bad ads. There’s a good reason for everything we do.
Eric, I agree with everything in your post, except the last line: “marketing professionals don’t make bad ads.” Many of these ads are great. Unfortunately, most are not. Great ads require a great idea, and a client with the wisdom, and the guts, to buy it. Sadly, as demonstrated by this discussion, marketing professionals can’t even agree that a campaign that already ran for over a decade (and moved the needle) doesn’t fall into the category of one of the “worst ads in history.” Which is why so many agencies are willing to give clients the safe, chest-beating, easily sold, and quickly forgotten ads we all see and forget a couple thousand times each day.
Thanks for the comments Eric. You’ve got a lot of good points but I’m just glad to have got people talking and clicking ;-)
These are all clever. Sometimes the simplest is the most difficult (Ford’s “Drive one”) and the fewer words the tougher the task to deliver the message. Here in the UK I particularly like Tesco’s online delivery service slogan “Freshly clicked”. I feel frustrated whenever I see Expedia’s “Travel yourself interesting” as I put forward a campaign idea of “Sail yourself happy” for a yachting company I worked for about a year before the Expedia one appeared. Nobody “got it”. Now they all do I’m sure ;)
Wow, that’s frustrating. It’s horrible when you get that “I just don’t get it” reaction when it’s clear as day to you. Hope you get the clients you deserve in the future!
Agree with the other comments that you completely got the Carlsberg line wrong.
Ha. Seems like a pretty unanimous opinion Unomarcus. I stand corrected :-)
Ha. Seems like a pretty unanimous opinion Unomarcus. I stand corrected :-)
Paragraph writing is also a fun, if you be familiar with afterward you can write
otherwise it is difficult to write.
I am partial to the Carlsberg ad. I don’t think it’s particularly strong, but then again the having to re-look and re-read the lines to understand it might work in its favour. Regardless, what puzzles me is why a rabbit is chosen? (am i missing something obvious out?)
Oh, I think APPLE has one running for top ten right now: “If it’s not an iPhone, then it’s not an iPhone.” Hope that was a six-figure copywriter turning that one in.