Sunday, July 20, 2014

When Advertising, and Humanity, Tried Harder.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

The 19 worst "Business Teamwork" stock photos.

1. (four associates examine a bell pepper)

I searched "Business Group Teamwork" on Getty and sifted through 41,177 photos to bring you this post. For authenticity, I didn't sign in to remove the watermarks.
Click photos to enlarge.

2. These "coworkers" have absolutely nothing in their offices. Not one fucking thing.

3. Title: "Authority".
That's it. That's all it said.

4. Title: "Acting Savagely".
Lord of the Flies office.

5. Just turn in your reports,
you metaphorical doofus.

6. All three women are wearing the exact same pair of fuck-me pumps. Nice work, stylist.

7. I have nothing to add.

8. On the floor.

9. Cliche + Racism = Awkward Stock Photo Hall of Fame.

 10. Subtle, Getty.

11. Part of the "business people outside with colored big balls" series. There are also "yellow ball" and "white ball" sets.

12. The man is using two water glasses as binoculars. This is not mentioned in the description.

13. I believe they're headed to a scheduled mass suicide.

14. I don't know.

15. Either making sure they haven't hired any black people, or clean hands = clean decks, or something.

16. It's "Red Shirt Friday", Mary.


18. Happy Birthday, Boss.

19. Lastly, there's this grey- and blue-besuited group of pale white middle managers looking for divine intervention to save their useless jobs.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Men's Deodorant Marketing is Malarkey.

Mitchum—So Effective, You Can Skip A Day

That was the Revlon brand's tagline for about 20 years, up until 2005. I mean, what the fuck do we have an FDA for if an antiperspirant can get away with that bald face lie?

Today, spurred by Unilever's Degree, men's deodorant has become a field of biotechnology, at least according to the ridiculous language used in its marketing. To Degree's webpage.


Read that copy. Take in every word.

• It has RECHARGE TECHNOLOGY™? Can I plug my iPhone into it? Can I apply some on my tongue during a long run?

• It's "engineered to help you stay ahead of sweat." How-now-what? Does it go into my glands and sit there waiting with microscopic shammies?

• "Up to 3x strength wetness protection... "Up to"—one of the most powerful wiggle ad terms ever created. 'Up to" basically means "not". And "3x" what, exactly? Nothing? Water? Your shitty original basic deodorant?

•"...continuously rebuilds odor fighters..." Are your "odor fighters" nanobots, Degree? And if so, I guess your formula also includes maintenance nanoids who rebuild the fighting nanobots? Do you have a detailed diagram to show me exactly how this works?


MOTIONSENSE™ TECHNOLOGY— is this the same "technology" used with advanced infrared security systems? Does it call the odor fighting nanobots when it detects sweat? Or does this formula not have that bit of engineering in it? Should I maybe use a half stroke of each of these two Degrees for optimum perspiration excretion retardation?

(above: Epinephrine [adrenaline] structure)

• "...responds to increases in adrenaline..."Really? How does it respond? Does it...produce a chemical reaction that releases noradrenaline into the blood stream?  Does it shrug? Does it respond to both the adrenaline "secreted by the medulla of the adrenal glands...", and that "produced at the ends of sympathetic nerve fibres" (Wikipedia)?

• "...responds directly to your body movement..." OK, less of biochemical claim here. But again: how does it respond? And what the fuck does "responds directly" mean?  And, what "body movement" does it respond to, because my body moves for many hours 100% of the time after I put on my deodorant in the morning.

Degree has been running this Clint Dempsey soccer ad during the World Cup. The copy starts with this asinine statement: "Everything can be improved..." And we finally get a chart! It claims that Degree beats Old Spice with regards to a longer lasting smell of "freshness/fragrance" based on a "consumer home use study". Not a very scientific study, then. Ho-kay.


Meanwhile, above is how Degree promotes their "Girl" formula.


"FIGHTS ODOR BEFORE IT EVEN STARTS". Mitchum doesn't get as scientific as Degree, but they've got their own technologically specious, trademarked website copy. And they're basically claiming the same thing—it works on something that isn't there.

Even though "skip a day" is no longer their tagline, Mitchum is still trying to claim that it works for 48 straight hours, though less aggressively.

Oxygen Odor Control Technology™ Oxygen, huh? How does this "technology" work, exactly?

•"...releases pure oxygen...throughout the day..." Pure oxygen. Gets released. Does the oxygen in your formula break free from its water compound buddy hydrogen? Why not have your formula release pure hydrogen? That would burn everything away—odor, sweat, hair, skin, etc. Very painful, but very effective. You could call this scent version "Barbecued Meat".

Funny, nobody mentions aluminum anymore in their deodorant marketing copy—most leading antiperspirant brands contain aluminum compounds and it is the main ingredient that actually "fights" wetness, and therefore, odor. This omission is probably because of that whole deodorants & antiperspirants cause breast cancer kerfuffle.


Speaking of deodorant marketing, let's take a trip back to 2005 to check out one of the dumbest bro-targeted campaigns of the bro generation. It was this "Mitchum Man" effort which courted the dumbest, basest of bros, and also encouraged future revenge porn (far right ad, click image).

The website is long dead, but it featured a "man-o-meter" hosted of course by a stripping model.

While I'm no fan of the Old Spice "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like" Isaiah Mustafa goofiness, it wins these days simply by default.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Are Ad Agencies Still Cool?

(Back in 2011, one of the largest ad agencies in the world flew this banner over the hordes at the Cannes ad festival. Note the spelling of "famously".)

Short answer: No. Long answer: FUCK No.

Today’s ad agencies are nothing like Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce in the 1960s. They’re not even like Crispin Porter + Bogusky in 2005.

If you’re a young creative, you’re not going to be Don Draper or Peggy Olson or even Stan Rizzo. You’re definitely not going to be Alex Bogusky.

You have no new truly original ideas in your portfolio. You’re lucky if you have even one mildly interesting idea amongst all the hackneyed, derivative dogshit. I know this: I’ve seen your portfolio. 100 fucking times.

Ad students have been sending me their portfolios—nearly daily, unsolicited—for 8 years, asking for advice. I never write them back.

This is my mass response.

If you want a “cool” ad agency creative department job, it’s there, waiting for you (at least at the big mega-merged bloated shops) if you happen to be one of those few young creatives with one (better, two) of those mildly interesting ideas in your portfolio. Because agencies these days are as desperate as a virgin male 2nd semester college senior.

Last fall, freelance designer Murat Mutlu wrote a 2,100 word article, republished to a wide audience on Creative Review, titled: "Why talented creatives are leaving your agency."

If you work at an ad agency, worked at an ad agency, or especially, if you're planning on working at an ad agency: read it. It is well worth your time.

This trend of good copywriters, art directors, and designers bolting or eschewing established ad agencies is not a new one. AdAge published a piece about it back in 2010. But, it is a trend that is gaining momentum, exponentially. Established creatives are heading to social start-ups and media websites. More and more brands are hiring these disgruntled creatives and bringing their ad work in-house.

Meanwhile, as Mutlu says:
"Agencies...are happy to keep trying to live in a world which is ceasing to exist. Clinging onto the same ideas, tools, and ways of working with CEOs who are either oblivious to the current mindset or too frightened to instigate change. It's the perfect storm of increasing entrepreneurialism, decreasing loyalty and an industry reveling in mediocrity."
Of course, all the creative directors at all of ad agencies of all sizes will still use the "C" (creative) and "I" (innovative) words in your interview. If you're a "hotshot" who they're hot to hire and you've got a good feeling about the place, tell them you'd like to freelance for a couple of months first. Facades are easy to erect.

Unless you have inside info, it’s hard to tell how “creative” an ad agency’s work environment is. One clue is to look at is the agency’s own self-promo stuff.

I've gathered together some recent agency self-promo and recruitment ads/videos/staff press photos—instances where ad agencies try to show the world just how fucking cool they really are.

Take a look, and see if these seem like the kind of places you'd like to spend working 10, 12 (or more, depending on the shop) hours a day.

The Ungar Group: "No Regrets"

Chicago's Ungar Group aired this spot, locally, during an April episode of last season's Mad Men.

Copy: "If you're looking for an advertising agency and don't meet with The Ungar Group. you will regret it for the rest of your lives."

Why is the man a zombie? I think they were trying to reference the Walking Dead (also on AMC). Why would you give your money to this ad agency? Because you're fucking brain dead. Back in 2007, Ungar created another cracking self-promo video where they threatened a kitten with a .357 Magnum.

SapientNitro "Idea Engineers"

SapientNitro has 37 offices worldwide, and is considered a "hot" "edgy" digital ad agency. What happened here with this auto-tuned "rap" song, I'm educatedly guessing, is one of the upper management guys desperately wanted to show off his guitar "skills".

"We're thinking not sinking..." Idea Engineers...

Planet Earth deserves to be destroyed by the Volgons because of this video.

DigitasLBi: "Inheritance"

This is the shop where every young "digital" creative wants to work. Their logo is a unicorn.
From the press note about the ad:
"...we're firm believers in practicing what we preach. And what we preach is that creating content that intrigues, engages and even entertains is a much better way of getting noticed than slavishly manufacturing marketing messages. We also believe in being brave (how quaint) and giving new things a try...Inheritance isn't about who we are, what we do or even what we think about the world. It is however meant to be so very us (what?)."
I'm disappointed they didn't slip "storytelling" in there somewhere.

Do you want your two minutes back? Write them, and ask them to get their magical fucking unicorn to make it happen.

How bout some print promo ads.

"JWT Brazil. 76 years (old), so what?"

TBWA Poland.


Now, some staff press photos (click for closer looks).

Press photos from two firms considered "hot" and "creative". L—El Segundo's David & Goliath. GET IT? R—NYC's Sagmeister & Walsh. They're wearing space helmets because they're "explorers". They're naked because they're morons.

Both Philadelphia's Red Tettemer & Partners (L) and BBH NYC (R) go the hadouken route. WHO HAD IT FIRST?
(agency promo photos via Business Insider)

In conclusion: stop sending me your portfolios, and drop out of ad school.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Brands Talking To Men Badly.

(Like rape culture enabler Axe, Brut is a Unilever product.)

Bros? Have you noticed more and more ads these days speaking your bro-language? That's because the early aughts Banana Republic-wearing manscaped Metrosexual is dead. It's time, yet again, to MAN UP, to let your body hair grow, to reaffirm your Bromitment.

Brut's latest online ads (one of which is above) call on you dudes to release your dormant inner man, and once out, splash some stinky man juice on him (which is actually now only 33% strength, because that's all the juice you younger pantywaists can handle).

It's a continuation of a campaign (by Sigma Group), launched with the manliest 15 seconds ever shot, commercially.

But, when I look at Brut's ads of the last 20 years, I get confused about my man-self.

The above print ads are from 2000 (by Lowe/Lintas). Note the all-caps tagline (click image): INSIDE EVERY MAN IS A GUY. (The kickoff ad was the middle one. That third ad is something special, eh?)

So: is there one more step that I'm missing, today, when I "let out" my man? Is there still a guy inside him, and is this "guy" tougher than my just released inner man?

Wait. Hold your hormones.

The above Brut magazine ad is from 1993. With the help of the stinky man juice, did this "boxer" let his inner man—who was "back"—out? Did he used to be a "guy"? Or was there a guy still inside him, and did the "man" beat the shit out of him on his way back out?

Lastly, let's go all the way back to the 1960s, when Brut, then owned by Fabergé (as in, EGGS, how unmanly), first came to market. If I have any doubts about myself? You're the confused dickheads here. I mean look at those illustrations, those guys/men are oozing metrosexuality.

Thing is, Brut had it figured out all along, they just didn't know it.

DISCLOSURE: I do not wear a "fragrance" because I like my own musk, and have found, through experience, that everybody else does, too.

Next up: Viagra.

These are two of the spots from Viagra's new campaign: "THIS IS THE AGE OF VIAGRA." The latest three 2014 spots aren't on YouTube, but you can watch them here on Viagra's website.

Cialis ads of course always feature a man and woman because of their stupid bathtub sign-off. Viagra's past ads have featured couples, but not this go-round because...


Despite their rugged good looks, these men/guys appear to be loners, ex-felons (rapists?) even.

Lastly, here's the latest Dockers ad, #STOPDADPANTS:

The spot stars NFL coach and former quarterback Jim Harbaugh's hot, horrible-acting wife. Dockers are of course as dad-pantsy as a man can get, so who the fuck do they think they're kidding?

This campaign follows up their much lambasted WEAR THE PANTS effort.

"BEHOLD THE SECOND DAWN OF MAN." Yes, somebody at ad agency DraftFCB San Francisco actually wrote that line, and the marketing manager at Dockers approved it. Also part of this inartful targeting of the ALPHA MALE was a direct mail campaign where Dockers sent out ALPHA KHAKIS in whiskey-like packages directly to consumers. Alpha. Khakis.

Here's the TV spot from the campaign, which laughable equates Dockers-wearing "men" to "supermen". Dockers is so proud of the commercial, it's nowhere to be found on their YouTube page.

See? It's not just women that ad agencies have no idea how to talk to. Although when targeting men, agencies have at least reached a consensus that ONLY ALL CAPS WILL DO.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

It's Time To End The Cannes Advertising Festival.

(Flier at Cannes last week. Photo by Kurt Novack.)

The just completed 2014 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity made $28.2 million in entry fees alone, up over four million from 2013. British media company Top Right Group runs the Festival, since buying it from French businessman Roger Hatchuel in 2004 for £52 million.

The entry fees for work are fucking extortion (which befits the industry). Plus, you pay a €2,710 fee (which includes nothing) just to attend the week-long event. The profit margin for the Festival is somewhere north of 60%.

What's it all for? To win a statue of a partial lion.

Talk about an insecure industry, full of insecure people.

To save yourself/your agency a lot of money, you should just buy your own Gold Lion for €1,250, and get it engraved to say whatever the fuck you want.

That would be a "scam" you say?

Well, exactly how many of the Gold, Silver, and Bronze Press ad winners do you think actually appeared in the "press", or anywhere at all other than an art director's iMac screen?
Above (click to enlarge) is one ad from a Silver Lion Press campaign for Panasonic auto A/C. After ad tracking services could find no record of the campaign, Australian media site Mumbrella had the audacity to ask Panasonic and their ad agency, Saatchi & Saatchi Sydney where the ads had run. Panasonic had no comment. Saatchi released this statement:
The Panasonic Nanoe TM technology for Automotive Airconditioners is one of the most innovative technologies used in the automotive industry. We (Saatchi & Saatchi) developed the dog print ads campaign as a project for Panasonic to demonstrate the benefit of fresher air through this technology in an engaging way that everyone can relate to. The print campaign ran in March and April.
No publications proffered. In other words, it never ran.
This (click to enlarge) is one of three ads (which suck) from a McDonald's campaign that just won a Bronze Press Lion. The lack of a logo is a pretty good clue that they're fake ads. And again, no evidence has been found by tracking services that they ran anywhere.

In response to the question of where exactly the ads ran, a McDonald's PR rep said:
"We were really pleased with the Big Mac Legends campaign which was rolled out across outdoor and radio in addition to print placements."
Zero specifics. That's right: now clients are even in on the scams. The reason? The internet. Lion winners get lots of worldwide online press, which means thousands—even millions— of dollars of free media placement. You can't blame 'em for playing along.

That Cannes is a scamfest is not news in the ad industry—it's been that way for years. But it used to be mostly South American and Asian ad agencies submitting fake entries. Now, it's a global phenomenon.

Who cares, right? No harm, no foul.

Well, careers are made and hindered by these statues, or lack thereof. Major business decisions are made and relationships are severed based on how many Lions ad agencies have on their shelves.

Last week, Sir John Hegarty, founding partner of London based ad agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty and the creator of a decent ad or two, commented on the abundance of Cannes scam ads, saying:
"It is a delusional practice, and the problem is we've created a beast called awards and it's taken over. What Cannes should be about is how creativity aids branding and builds business."
Jose Miguel Sokoloff, chief creative officer of Lowe, an ad agency with a markedly less creative reputation than BBH, countered Hegarty thusly:
"I have to disagree with John. I agree that there is a lot of work created just for awards, but think of it like a Formula 1 operation. Honda has a F1 programme just to win races. But also what they learn from testing becomes part of the car’s engine.
So: ad creatives are just like race car drivers. There you go, douchebags, you've got a new pick-up line.

Sokoloff is just one of a growing number of top creatives worldwide who want to turn Cannes into an ad school wall where you hang your best spec work. Great. Let's make it more of an auto-erotic circle jerk than it already is. Fucking pathetic.

Don't expect host Top Right Group to start attempting to crack down on scam entries; they're making big money off of them.

That leaves the policing to the judging panels, which are made up of the world's top creative directors. Yeah, not going to happen. They're there for one reason: to spend a free week shitfaced on the Mediterranean.

Note: this wonderful Christmas campaign for Harvey Nichols won the Grand Prix Press Lion (and also the Promo Grand Prix Lion). It did, in fact, run. Update: And it won the Film and Integrated Grand Prix Lions.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Today’s Tech Ads Are All Made By Men And Are All Terrible.

That Silicon Valley & Alley are both massively dick-heavy is not news—if you’ve ever been to a tech trade show, well, you know. Therefore, it makes sense that tech company ad agencies would put their best men on the job, and only men. How’s that working out? Take a look.

AT&T’s “Network Guys”

This newish campaign manages to insult both IT people and all the rest of us. That’s because the “guys” are both unfunny condescending assholes and complete fucking losers. “You wouldn’t understand what we’re doing, honey, just go post your cat photos, and hey, can I fuck your homely ass?” A second spot, set at a rock concert, is just as bad—“enjoy the show” (you unemployed fucking dumbass stoner loser).

“Rethink Possible” is AT&T’s current tagline. They should turn that slogan around to face themselves.

Ad agency: BBDO NYC. Creative team: seven men.

Norton: “Boldly Go”

“…The boldest email has yet to be opened. The boldest app has yet to be bought. The boldest file has yet to be downloaded…

But the worst ever internet security commercial has now been written, so close your laptops, young ad scribes.

“Well guys, our ad bites, so let’s at least shoot in black & white to add bogus gravitas. And get some pretentious girl who sounds like she goes to Hogwarts to do the V/O.”

The creative team on this awful new spot by Grey San Francisco? Six men.

LG G Flex “the most human phone ever”

LG loved this creepy-ass ad so much, released earlier this year, that they’ve removed it from their official YouTube page. I’m all for super surreal shit, if the writing’s funny and I’m sold on the product. Yeah—no and no.

(What do you think Danny’s hand phone looks more like—a heavily bearded clam or a very hairy asshole? Also, logically, the mouth should be in the fingers, and the ear in the palm.)

I don’t have the credits for this spot, but you can bet all your shiny “gold” ad awards that the creative team was XY.

Toshiba “Field testing with Matt & Jamie”

Oh goodie: another unfunny pair of spokes-jerkoffs. The “field testing” concept is sometimes a good if unoriginal idea—at least I’ll maybe see some product benefits for my time. But again: the writing here is just epically bad. Fat macho Matt calls Toshiba’s tech people “dorks” and us “nerds.” He’s an ironic character. Maybe.

They made nine of these terrible field test spots. If you’d like to waste eight more minutes of your life like I did, you can watch the rest of them here. Their laptop fails a monster truck test and passes a jumper cables test that makes zero sense. Their tablet screen cracks when it’s thrown like a discus. Like Matt, these “tests” are “ironic,” irony being, ostensibly, a formula for humor.

The creative team? Three men.

Still, these ads are an improvement over their “get unstressed with Lucy” (and her exposed tits) Toshiba commercials from 2012 (all balls creative team, btw). Toshiba thinks they’ve scrubbed the Internet of all traces of this amazingly crass and sexist campaign. Sorry, guys.

Then, there are the endless Apple-bashing commercials of Samsung. Now I’m all for bashing Apple, but Samsung has no continuity, no Big Idea. It’s just a bunch of one-off reactionary spots that make the Korean company look childish, and much smaller and less important than they are.

And, of course, the creative teams on almost every Samsung tech spot you’ve seen—via Cheil & Partners (their worldwide agency), the UK’s CHI & Partners, and RG/A and 72andSunny in America—are all dudes. I’m not linking to all the spots, but you can look up the credits on Adfreak and Ads of the World.

The best tech ads from the last five years have been by Google. And many of Google's spots are created in-house, like this Cannes Lion-winning Google Instant ad from 2011.

The copywriter? Yes, a man. And a man wrote this playful campaign for Google Play, another favorite of mine. But Google has at least, occasionally, let women into the "ideation" process. Google is not a stupid company.

Besides the bro-culture, another problem with tech ads is that they’re made with one eye on Silicon Valley, one eye on NASDAQ, and one eye on the company's own fucking navel, which doesn’t leave very many eyes for the people who might be interested in buying their overpriced nonessential products. So what you end up with is tech companies figuratively rubbing one out on camera. Right Apple?

It wasn’t always this way. During the dot-com bubble of the late 1990s, tech advertising was wonderful. There was the inspiring Apple “Think Different” campaign; the hilarious sock puppet commercials; and the brilliant spots. The period was punctuated by the amazingly bombastic “we just wasted 2 million dollars” 2000 e-trade Super Bowl commercial.

I am flummoxed that the supposed best analytical minds in the world can’t make/approve better ads. But—just maybe, guys?—if more women were involved in creating and approving tech ads, the ads would be more creative and more effective and less masturbatory bullshit?

Tech CEOs? It's probably worth giving some female creatives a shot. Remember: Frankenstein's monster, one of history's most innovative high tech ideas, was created by a woman.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Great American Tagline Is Dead.

(One of my favorite taglines of all time)

Nike ditched Just Do It last year. Apparently, they thought it too harsh for today’s soft generation, replacing it, temporarily, with the gooier Find Your Greatness. If sitting on your couch with your hand down your Nike sweatpants cupping your balls which watching “Archer” is “your greatness,” well then, just fucking do it.

This is what Nike’s “vice president of digital sport,” Stefan Olander, said about tossing aside the three words that built his company and are still directly paying his bloated salary:

People now demand us not to say, ‘Just do it.’ They say, ‘Help me just do it.’”

Nike. We’ll Help You Just Do It.

Dan Wieden, founding creative partner of Nike’s ad agency Wieden & Kennedy, wrote Just Do It in 1988. Wieden wrote hundreds of taglines before he happened upon the famous last words of executed murderer Gary Gilmore: “Let’s do it.” It was, literally, a killer tagline.

Apple used to be the Think Different company. Now they’re the “tagline-less” company. And boy does it show, with their scattershot, rudderless marketing “plan” full of “cinematic” disconnected masturbatory spots.

Many young industry “experts” think the death of the tagline is a good thing, that it’s better for “flexible branding” (one of the latest meaningless marketing buzz phrases). That’s just poppycock. A great tagline can still instantly separate a brand from the competition, and grow the company stronger than any fake prankvertising video or #hashtag.

But coming up with a good campaign tied off perfectly by a great tagline takes a lot of hard work, talent, and time—three things today’s ad agencies have a shortage of. Plus, marketers are less concerned about brand image, and too concerned about brand “mentions,” to the detriment of their long-term growth.


In honor of the dying art of ad and tagline copywriting, let’s have a grand memorial service for some of the greatest straplines in advertising history.

Perdue: It Takes A Tough Man To Make A Tender Chicken.

Frank Perdue was a small town chicken farmer from Maryland. His widow, Mitzi, told the fascinating story of the hatching of the tagline to AdAge in 2011.

Perdue came to New York City and interviewed 66 agencies, creating a finalist list of six. Then, he started calling all the clients of these agencies, much to the agencies’ consternation. He told one irritated agency president why: “Because I can't tell by looking in your eyes whether you are a priest or a crook."

He ended up picking Scali McCabe Sloves. Advertising Hall of Fame copywriter Ed McCabe told Perdue, upon winning the business: "You know, Frank, I'm not even sure I want your account any more because you're such a pain in the ass."

The seed for the tagline was planted right that moment.

Nobody had ever advertised brand name chicken before 1971. In addition to writing the line, McCabe also convinced Perdue to appear in his own TV spots, one of the first CEOs to do so (Here’s 10 of the spots). I think it helped that Perdue kind of looked like a chicken. Did the tagline work? With an ad budget of $200,000, Perdue’s sales doubled within a year.

California Milk Processing Board: Got Milk?

Got Milk? reemphasized that grammar is mostly unimportant in ad copywriting. The short, sweet tagline, which debuted in 1993, was just replaced a couple of months ago with the stupid pun Milk Life. Got Milk? by itself wasn’t remarkably clever, but the ads that set it up were consistently brilliant, never more so than the very first campaign spot, “Aaron Burr” (above)—easily the best thing Michael Bay has ever directed.

Another hilarious, industry-famous spot, “Wheelbarrow,” so enraged then California Governor Gray Davis that he asked for it to be removed from the air. In it, kids refuse to drink their milk—until they see their old man neighbor’s arms fall off.

The campaign was created by San Francisco agency Goodby Silverstein & Partners. The tagline also spawned hundreds of “milk mustache” print ads. And just like Just Do It, it became part of American culture and was parodied endlessly.

Federal Express: When It Absolutely Positively Has To Be There Overnight.

The tagline lived from 1978-83, but it was the above 1981 spot, maybe the funniest commercial ever produced, that indelibly sold the slogan and made FedEx a major shipping player. New York City ad agency Ally Gargano came up with the idea to use John “Motormouth” Moschitta, Jr. The ad was directed by the great Joe Sedelmeier, who also shot the Wendy’s “Where’s The Beef?” commercial.

FedEx’s current tagline is the utterly forgettable The World On Time.

Avis: We’re #2, We Try Harder.

In 1962, Avis was in fact not actually number two in the car rental industry. They were number four or five. They were failing, terribly. Enter Doyle Dane & Bernbach and their legendary We Try Harder ads.

The ugly, type-heavy layouts that delivered uncomfortable truths tested miserably. No cars in the layouts—they must have been insane! Within a year, Avis had in fact climbed to number two, and was gaining fast on Hertz.  DDB took the company’s main weakness and turned it into the number one selling point, driven home again and again by that inspiring tagline: WE TRY HARDER.

Great advertising with a great tagline almost always has worked. And it still would work, despite what dodgy-metrics-chasing digital no-nothing dickheads would have you believe.

Sure, they are some fair taglines around today. Jet Blue’s You Above All is nice, and it’s reinforced by industry customer service surveys. But the airline doesn’t do enough with it, creatively, to make it great.

BMW still uses the classic The Ultimate Driving Machine, But only sporadically, and their ads have no Big Idea central concept. Kit Kat’s Have A Break is solid and successful.

But the era of the Great American Tagline is most certainly dead. Today’s clueless, flailing marketing executives have no patience to carefully build their brands. And the new digital ad shops have a Svengali-hold on the marketers with their fast-response, creatively substandard, here today gone later today, social media shit-content.

copyranter: The Best Fucking Ad Critic In The World™