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Dave Randall

Posted on July 30, 2018 23:28

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Don't underestimate the power of an advertising tag line. Some of them stick with you for a lifetime.

I recently wrote a review of the Morgan Neville documentary Won't you be my Neighbor?, a lovingly detailed look at the life and work of  the late children's TV icon, Fred Rogers.

Along with his deeply held belief that children should always be reminded they are loved and valued, Mr. Rogers felt programming for kids in TV's nascent days was broad, and insulted or exploited a child's intelligence. 

To prove that point, the film showed a clip of '50's kiddie star Pinky Lee bounding on to the stage from beneath a huge Tootsie Roll sign. Talk about product placement! What was more memorable to the little viewer at home? The singing, dancing, dervish that was Pinky Lee,  or that Tootsie Roll, and what Pinky'd have to say about it?

Maybe it's a testament to my own freakish powers of memory, but I can think of dozens of commercial tag lines from my '60's childhood, drilled in through hundred of gross impressions, not all of them for products marketed to minors:

"That Little Old Wine Maker...Me!" (Italian Swiss Colony Wine)

"It's the Water...and a lot more" (Olympia Beer)

"There's something about an Aqua-Velva Man"

"Silly rabbit--Trix are for kids"

"Reynold's Wrap is Oven-Tempered...for flexible strength!"

"Mennen Skin Bracer-- hits you like a cold slap in the face!"

"Who put eight great tomatoes in a little bitty can? Contadina!"

And who can forget the tobacco products:

"A silly millimeter longer...101!"

"Us Tareyton smokers would rather fight than switch."


Those are just off the top of my head. Ad agencies know the human mind is almost powerless against something catchy. Reams of data will tell them whether the repetition of that tag line or jingle "hook" has been effective in moving a product.

That power so worried the children's advocates that, eventually, measures were taken to make it more clear to young viewers when Saturday morning shows were going into commercials.

Mr. Rogers wasn't wrong. As for myself, when I was "separated" from my long-standing broadcasting job in 2014,  I thought I might give advertising copy-writing a try. I'd done hundreds of radio spots; written and fine-tuned many of them.

Plus I'd been a reservoir for so much of what I'd seen and heard. I couldn't miss, right? I was so cocky about it, I added my own humorous, possible tag lines to a cover letter I wrote one agency:

"The New Barbosol--as frothy as Grandpa when kids play on his lawn!"

"Makes you crisp. Clear. Focused like a fat cat with a taste for tuna" (Levitra)

"Try Gilbey's--They'll just think you've changed colognes."

"Real Products. Real Results. Some Artificial Attachments. Maidenform."

"Get Small" (Preparation H)

I never got a rejection e-mail so fast. Tag lines are serious business. If they make you laugh, if you remember them forever, fine--as long as they get you to buy!



Dave Randall

Posted on July 30, 2018 23:28


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Source: Toledo Blade

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