Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tuesday Tip No.66 - How To Write Endlines

Civilians think that 'coming up with slogans' is our whole job.

And in a way, they have a point.

The slogan, that much-derided term, is the complete encapsulation of a campaign or brand idea. Ideally it distills everything important that a company stands for, and acts as a springboard for great communications.

So endlines are important. Which makes the ability to write good ones a valuable skill to have.

Lines win pitches. They build brands. And they create fame for the person who wrote them.

I always thought it would be a bold move for a creative team to have a tiny portfolio with just 8-10 pages in it, and on each page nothing but a campaign endline they'd come up with.

The first thing to do is be absolutely clear about what you are trying to say.

"Australians wouldn't give a XXXX for anything else" says 'Australian'
"Finger lickin' good" says 'delicious'
"The appliance of science" says 'advanced'

Don't even start trying to write an endline until you've got what you want to say down to one word.

From there, it's about applying dem old-fashioned copywritin' skills to express that concept in a new and interesting way.

Here's a few devices you can deploy:

1. Insight. The KFC line is a good example of this. What do you actually do when you find something delicious? You lick your fingers. Think about what people actually do when they use the product.

"Let your fingers do the walking" is another example, coincidentally it's also finger-related. The line says 'convenient'. And it works because of the insight that when you use the Yellow Pages, you go through it with your fingers.

2. Zingy language. Rhyme, alliteration and neology (coining new words) all help. "Beanz Meanz Heinz" is just so much more memorable than "Heinz - the definitive baked beans" isn't it?

3. Words with two meanings. Of the 20 endlines that Adslogans nominated for slogan of the year 2007/8, no fewer than 6 of them employed words with double meanings, including the excellent "Be humankind" for Oxfam, and "Get some nuts" for Snickers. So, think about the words related to your product, and whether any of them have additional meanings that you can use to your advantage.

And if you have a method that you use in writing endlines, do share it in the comments.

Previous Tips


shitegeist said...

'it's about applying dem old-fashioned copywritin' skills'

Does this include fake Irish enunciation?

Anonymous said...

don't you lick your fingers after you've eaten something delicious?

Unknown said...

Do endlines (we call them tag lines over here) actually matter anymore?

Or are they just another quaint remnant of an earlier era?

Their effectiveness was based on repetition: you saw them with every TV spot and print ad. And it was hard not to see the TV spots and print ads.

That's certainly not the case anymore. And maybe it's me, but even as a consumer, the whole idea of a "slogan" just seems corny and dated. Not to mention fake.

Or maybe I'm just way too cynical.

Anonymous said...

an endline is a gigantic tool in advertising. Just like...

Anonymous said...

may I suggest a topic? The increasing openplanification of creative departments. Every (no exceptions) creative I know where this monstrous practice has been instituted absolutely hates it and many go to work in local coffee shops. Why is this being done to us? Is it part of the general resentment of creativity which has crept through the industry in the last 10 years? forgive me if this has already been discussed elsewhere...

Anonymous said...

They don't trust us.
I mean its not as if we sit around watching youtube and talking shite all day long is it?

George said...

What is openplanification?

Anonymous said...

If you don't like open plan, why go to a local coffee shop? It's not as the Star Caff provides private offices. Could the real problem be that you hate your colleagues?

Marie Clarke said...

Guys- my partner has come up with a classic:

One you go Mac, you can't go back.

Lol. ;-) xxx

Anonymous said...

An open-plan office is a large room with desks, instead of small separate offices.

john p woods said...

Henry James once said it was the right of every man to see life from his own point of view. Everybody who comments is no doubt disciples of the novelist because when discussing a facet of advertising they all see it from roughly the same angle yet they each describe something quite different. Or, to be polite, each see it from his/her own point of view. I'm just a small fish in this big puddle but I reckon a strapline is as good today as it's always been.

Anonymous said...

@ Sophie & Marie

You got your own partners endline wrong . . .

"Once you go Mac, you never go back!"

Get thee back to Tesco

Scamp said...

I like the open plan idea. Certainly a tip about work environments could be interesting.

Anonymous said...

Am I the only person who hates "Be Humankind"? But it's not as bad as "Protect the human"...

Anonymous said...

"Word's with two meanings"...You mean puns?....Really?

Ben Kay said...

I like endlines that are already well-known phrases, such as 'Every Little Helps'. If a brand has the power to grab that phrase for itself then it gets a mention every time the phrase does. Also, these phrases become consistently used for a reason: they convey a truth, and by aligning oneself to that truth, a brand can borrow a lot of positive interest. The recontextualisation of the familiar is also memorably jarring for people.

You'll also find this happens in a lot of Radiohead lyrics, particularly circa Kid A, as well as many Economist headlines ('Think someone under the table', 'Be too clever by three quarters' and my favourite, 'What exactly is the benefit of the doubt?').

Scamp said...

I suppose I do mean puns. I avoid the word because it has come to mean 'corny wordplay'. And obviously I'm not in favour of that.

But if you think about it... one word that says two things at once - that's compression, it's potentially exciting, it can make you see the word in a new light. Some of the best headlines and endlines are, in fact, puns.

Anonymous said...

Ben: great observation on the Radiohead lyrics.

Auge said...

I don't necessarily think associating your brand with a well-known phrase or even word is such a great idea. At this side of the pond is being done a lot mindlessly, as if these people were writing down random words and then plugging them to a product.

A good end line should be creating meaning all by itself, instead of borrowing head space from a known metaphor. I guess this can go back to that age-old question, is Ready-Made-art, really art?

I think there is a lot more value in creating your own metaphor, one that eventually reaches the status of truth. These are defined as "mythic metaphors'.

For more info on the subject, I suggest a quick read through "Marketing Metaphoria."

Anonymous said...

My finest moment in advertising was at Leo Burnett around 1978 when I wrote 'Stop taping the hiss' for Memorex.

The client didn't buy it and it's been downhill for me ever since.

Ben Kay said...

When I was trying to get across the fact that Sainsbury's farmers pick their lettuces in the morning so that they're fresher, I wrote 'At the end of the day, Sainsbury's lettuces simply aren't good enough'. They didn't buy it.

Same campaign, this time about Sainsbury's refusing to sell bruised bananas: 'Sainsbury's believes in discrimination on the basis of skin colour'. They didn't buy that one either. No idea why.

Anonymous said...

Nice ones Mark and Ben.
When we did "You can Break A Brolley But You Can't K-nacker a K-nirps" I had to go to the ITCA (the BACC of its day) with 3 dictionaries proving 'Knacker' wasn't a swear word.
I didn't take the two dictionaries that said it was.

john p woods said...

Ben -I can't see why they rejected the lettuces but can the bananas. Both clever though.
Does anyone think this has mileage or have I lost it?
'Nothing hula hoops like a hula hoop hoops'.

Anonymous said...

I like it.

Do you remember 'no ring goes like a Ringo goes'?

Anonymous said...

lines should have power and value. the best ones stake out huge territory and have an air of inevitability about. they are big thoughts. and can ideally serve as a compass for the entire company.

just do it also reflected the corporate of nike. (geeky little known fact about that line. when nike went to trademark it they found it had been taken. it was used by Christian Insurance company who used it as an internal motivational slogan for trainees. which goes to show you. it's all been done.)

Anca said...

Mark, Ben and Dave -- very nice of you to prove once more that yes, clients do shape our work, but not always in a very intelligent way.

Alan Wolk - "Do endlines (we call them tag lines over here) actually matter anymore?

Or are they just another quaint remnant of an earlier era?"

Are your questions subordinate to a wider theory, namely that digital advertising will completely replace traditional advertising? Because after having a look at your background, I understand you started with traditional advertising and later switched to digital, which makes me believe by "remnant of an earlier era" you meant remnant of traditional advertising. "Remnant" and "era" both suggest a trend that is now over.

I'd say advertising still falls under the general rules of human behaviour. Not all the great discoveries and inventions wash away the pre-existing ones, they keep adding. That's also the reason why Renaissance principles that used to say "One has to know everything about everything." are impossible to follow today. So the digital is just an alternative, bringing diversity in our lives. It doesn't replace traditional advertising for the same reason cloning is not going to replace sex. It could happen only if human beings were also replaced with robots. Human brain doesn't do a great job in handling bytes and bits. People hate reading digital books and still love flowers, you know. It's in our senses. A poster is still more powerful than a 500X700 px pop-up web ad.

So you're not cynical, just maybe too focused on digital advertising.

"Their effectiveness was based on repetition: you saw them with every TV spot and print ad. And it was hard not to see the TV spots and print ads.That's certainly not the case anymore." --you say. But you also say on your blog that "More and more the web is looking like television." and that you're "starting to get the feeling that the web's killer app is television." which means the web is slowly turning into a different type of television, which further means that repetition is still going to occur = endliness still make their way to the consumer's brain. Web-based projects are financially kept alive by advertising. This does nothing but send us back to our old advertising skills. Again I go back to Sir John Hegarty's interview about the digital era.

Sell! Sell! said...

I like an endline that means something real and compelling - not just a nice sounding set of words.
If means something, and it's also poetic or lyrical or unusual in some catchy way, then you getting close to a great endline.

A great endline is still one of the most valuable things we can give a client.

Anonymous said...

Great reply Anca.
Carefully thought out, well put together.
And you're right about John Hegarty's clip.

Alan Wolk said...

@Anca & Dave Trott

How lovely of you to spend so much time reading my blog. I only wish you hadn't read it so selectively.

It's nothing to do with digital vs traditional. But rather our changing taste and changes in non-ditgital media. TV, in the US anyway, no longer consists of 3 network stations that everyone watches (hence the repetition) My own cable box shoots me something like 1,000 different stations. It's very hard to achieve the same levels of consciousness in that environment compared to the era of 3 networks. Nothing to do with digital at all but rather a change in our collective gestalt and what passes for cool.

Jingles were one of the primary ad vehicles for many years and then they fell out of favor and became regarded as hopelessly corny and unhip.

Perhaps end lines are to meet the same fate? I mean do any of the brands that have been very successful over the past 10-15 years have a memorable tag line? Whole Foods? Amazon? EBay? Starbucks?

Look at Crispin & Porter, an agency that represents a new era of US advertising. I can't think of a single memorable tag line they've come up with (does "I'm a PC" count?) yet they've broken new ground and introduced a style of advertising that's very different from what's been done before. They don't pretend to be doing anything other than selling you. You're both in on the joke. So something as earnest as a tag line has no place in their oevre, unless it's ironic.

Finally, while I may prove a useful foil for your distaste of "this new digital thing" if you actually read my blog you'll find that we're in complete agreement over the ridiculousness of pop-up ads and other annoyances as ad vehicles. I don't produce such things, nor do I advocate them. Digital changed advertising because we can Google the claims that ads make. Go on message boards and sites like Amazon that offer hundreds of product reviews from other consumers and see if the "new and improved" model really is new and improved. Which has nothing to do with banners and wacky "viral" videos but with actual consumer behavior.

I hope you do come to the blog and participate in the conversation there. Your comments are very erudite, though off-base in this instance (again, you are arguing against a straw man you've set up--the actual Alan Wolk is in full agreement with your position on digital advertising vis a vis traditional advertising and thinks perhaps you did not go far enough in terms of its uselessness.)


PS: My great-great grandparents on my mother's side were from Transylvania-- a town called Szatmar (in Hungarian) Is that anywhere near you?

Anonymous said...

is anca from hungary?

Alan Wolk said...

@anon 3:36 - her profile says she is from "Transylvania" - (and some of her blogs reference living there as well) which is actually mostly in Romania these days, but was part of Hapsburg Austria-Hungary at one point and has a sizeable Hungarian minority still. (History lesson over.)

Anca said...


First of all thank you for your reply.

I'm of course very happy we share the same opinion on digital advertising. Though, I'm not against everything that happens in digital form. I do believe in digital marketing -- especially behavioural marketing and the Wunderman network used to have some very intelligently wrtten books on the subject (don't know if they are still available on their new website, but I still have them, in case you or anyone else would like to read them). I mostly disagree with mixing things up. The most important thing the internet came up with was interactivity -- and further more an entire series of selection/selectivity tools. Forcing the user to watch an ad the same way it happens when watching TV is already an abnormal course of action, because it opposes the main role of the internet. All you can achieve this way is convince the user to leave and never come back. I'm glad you think the same about it.

And then we go back to those endlines. I'm thinking of what happens with fashion trends. They disappear for a while, then they return and just because people missed them, they have a very strong impact on the market. It may happen the same way with jingles, endlines and everything that now seems to be old-fashioned.
At some point blak & white photography was considered old-fashioned, then it gradually turned out to be regarded as stylish, elegant, artistic. I cannot tell how things evolve in the U.S. (that's why I'm very glad you take the time to write on this blog) but in Europe we seem to have a great appetite for tradition. Someone who invests in building a Gothic style house these days is considered to have high cultural standards. Who knows, maybe having an endline will soon be seen as luxury advertising.
And yes, Satu Mare (Szatmar) is very close to where I live.

Anonymous said...

OK, linguistic psychology lesson over now. Can we go back to slagging off some work?

Anonymous said...

Alan Wolk, so that we don't bore everyone else, just take a look at my blog today on the subject of corny.

]-[appy Thought said...

I love the fact that people are responding to other people's blog topics in the comments section of this blog. There's something very wrong but at the same time quite poetic about that.

Anonymous said...

Is Herman Munster from Transylvania?

Anonymous said...

@10.55 Do you see such a big difference between mentioning Campaign as the source of the information you use and mentioning a blog that was made public? I don't.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and 10.55, I also fail to find the poetry in that.

Anonymous said...

Make the open plan stop!

My Creative Director can see my computer screen from his desk for Christ's sake.

And I want a sofa. And a wall to pin rude pictures up on. And a book case. And somewhere to hide from account handlers.

Also, it gives the horrible impression that we're no more important than anyone else. Don't they know we're gods damn it?!

Anonymous said...

I still love "Peperami - it's a bit of an animal" ... yes, it's a pun, but a brilliant one

Anonymous said...

"3. Words with two meanings. Of the 20 endlines that Adslogans nominated for slogan of the year 2007/8, no fewer than 6 of them employed words with double meanings..."

Is it REALLY puns you're talking about, or double entendres? Discuss.

If you like this comment you can find more like it at http://blogspot.incrediblydulllinguisticquandaries.com

Anonymous said...

It communicates something true and does it very powerfully. Well done.

Anonymous said...

re 1.14 - woops that was meant for break the cycle thread

Anonymous said...

heh. it's taken me every single day since I first saw it to realise that 'a bit of an animal' was a joke. y'know, ANOTHER joke. about being an actual bit of an animal. so I put my hands up as a mong, which should qualify everything else I have to say on the subject.

your zingy wordplay and that is all very fine. these are helpful techniques when you’re up against it, but they also have a whiff of the post-rational about them. the real trick can’t be written down.

you need to invest your endline with character. personality, a tone of its own. and that, my friends, is a knack. you either got it or you don’t.

‘it’s frothy, man’, ‘heineken refreshes…’, '...tangoed', etc. not a pun or a zing or an insight in sight. meaningless or cumbersome half-truths. but aren’t they beautiful?

hang on, they're all drinks. oh well. point stands.

Anonymous said...

i must say i also missed the joke that it was 'a bit of an animal' up till about 6 months ago.

i'm a real fraud and i'm remaining anonymous.

Anonymous said...

A debate seems to be stirring within the marketing and advertising community over the role and value of endlines; is the endline going through its death throes (and should it be allowed to die), or are endlines an important part of our advertising heritage which need to be sustained and celebrated? It has been suggested that endlines now carry little weight with marketers and creatives compared to the past and that whilst some clients feel the need for an endline, agencies are much more equivocal (1). We feel the time is ripe to take a closer look at the argument and consider the issues in some depth; this essentially is the purpose of this paper. In putting the paper together we had discussions with and interviewed a mix of people in the industry, read what we could on the subject, and conducted some consumer research.

In a review of recent advertising reels from The Register approximately 20% of new advertising executions did not carry any form of endline, spoken or written, which seems indicative of the fact that the industry might well be questioning the value of the device. There are a number of ways in which creatives, for example, can argue the case against endlines, and judging by the aforementioned ‘statistic’ they have been on a winning streak.

One argument is that the make up, components and structure of the advertising execution do not call for an endline, and indeed the use of an endline would undermine the idea, appearing as an unnecessary, even obvious or hackneyed device to the eyes of a more advertising literate and sophisticated consumer audience. Some could even argue that, as the means of branding in advertising for various brands moves from more simple forms (ie. simple association; this can be verbal or aural as in a jingle) to more complex forms (ie. structural branding, where advertising structure, style, tone or ownership of a storyline is the main branding method), the importance of the endline (an essential for branding by simple association) diminishes (2). In essence, the endline becomes merely one of a number of brand components in a complex whole, and not an especially important one at that! We would not deny the validity of such arguments, and indeed for a younger audience brought up on a diet of clever visual and/or aural devices and linkages, these can have more impact than ‘catchlines’.

Advertisers, however, can believe an endline to be crucial. There is a desire to see the brand pithily summed up and encapsulated in words which hit home the advertising message, and leave consumers with a clear thought about the brand.

This is also very understandable, and success in this endeavour can lead to those famous endlines such as ‘Heineken refreshes the parts other beers cannot reach’, which actually become part of the brand; lines which we have, for the sake of this paper, termed ‘brand lines’ (see Some Definitions).

At one level this can be seen as the perfect scenario: we have a great endline, the agency is happy, the client is happy. The difficulty comes when it is time to move the brand on. If the brand has a line that is a given, it needs to be taken on board as part of the furniture. This can prove suffocating for creatives - trying to come up with fresh ideas which move the advertising and brand on but which need to fit the line can be too restricting.

"This is really what the debate is about - the constant conflict between
the agency creatives’ desire for freedom and the advertisers’ desire for
control and tidiness." (Interview)

One of the reasons why this debate has come to the fore of late is the nature of the marketing environment in the late 90s. There has always been a need for brands and their advertising to move with the times, but in these times of accelerated culture, brands and their advertising may have to be subject to more frequent change. Without wishing to enter the pros and cons of yet another debate, this fact does have implications for the endline, at least as a branding device, in today’s climate. Historically, for many agencies and advertisers, the value of the endline lay more in its - what has been referred to as - ‘headline’ qualities.

"Copywriters would come up with a headline which was an
encapsulation of the advertising idea, which could then be executed
and re-executed, and which featured as the endline." (Interview)

Such lines helped sustain campaign ideas, frequently becoming, as noted earlier, part of the brand equity. Nevertheless, this required time and commitment because, as many are apt to forget, it does take time for consumers to register and remember advertising so that it impacts on their perception of the brand. We can cite numerous examples of group discussions where advertising recall (and the brand meaning established by that advertising) related to older, long-running campaigns, more than the impactful campaign, for the same brand, which had only been running a year.

This reflects how consumers not only respond to advertising and the brand messages inherent in that advertising, but how they store and use advertising. This is itself a complex subject, which is not within the realm of the paper, but which needs to be acknowledged when considering consumer usage of endlines. The way in which consumers register, remember, store and use endlines is crucial to the whole endline debate.

The consumer and endlines

We have thus far looked at some aspects of the endline argument occurring within the industry. It seems to be a recent one, and this partially explains why so little published material on the role and value of endlines seems to exist. One of the aims of this paper is to redress this situation, but by giving more of a consumer informed perspective on and insight into the issue.

The crux of our argument is that, with careful thought endlines can still operate very effectively for consumers as a means of establishing, reinforcing or even triggering important brand associations and meanings. If people are, to use a few advertising task terms, to understand, warm to, identify with, desire or aspire to brands, they need to know, at some level, what the brand is about or stands for. Endlines can help achieve this, but we would argue that they need to be relevant, appropriate, meaningful and memorable/distinctive in order to do this.

Do endlines really matter?

It has been asked whether consumers even notice or care whether an advertisement or campaign carries an endline. In preparation for this article we did indeed ask a fair number of consumers this exact question. In general, the consensus was that so many endlines fail to register, that it is impossible to say whether an advertisement did or did not actually have an endline. (A consequence of poor endlines or the industry abandoning the device?)

This is not to say however, that consumers do not enjoy and respond positively to endlines or slogans, and there is no doubt that amongst many people, particularly the under 25s, slogans still become incorporated into everyday language and take their place as part of the vernacular. From our observations as qualitative researchers this has the effect, not only of keeping a particular brand name top of mind, but bolsters the consumer relationship with advertising, keeping it as salient a part of their lives as are some of their favourite films and TV programmes. This can be a clear bonus of having (good) endlines; if they get talked about, remembered and used in common language they help keep the world of advertising alive and well and living in consumers’ minds! Yet this does of course depend on the extent to which there are good, memorable, catchy endlines ‘out there’ which also have positive associations for the brand.

This in turn begs the question as to what we mean by endlines, and perhaps more importantly, how we all see their role.

Some definitions, models and endline roles

Many terms get bandied about within the industry, and also amongst consumers themselves. The main ones are listed below:

Brand line
Corporate line
We need to ask if these have the same meaning, or whether they are different beasts. Given that there seems to be some uncertainty within the industry as to wherein differences lie, we would not presume to answer this question, although we believe it important to interrogate the terminology. In our view there are, broadly speaking, two types of line: the advertising line and the slogan. Within the former category we would place terms such as endlines, straplines and sign-offs; within the latter we would include brand lines and corporate lines. The two categories, however, are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Essentially, we are drawing a distinction between lines which seem, by definition, to be part of an execution or campaign, and lines which are more part of (or become part of) the brand.

Of the two, a slogan style of line is obviously the more potent, in relation to forming brand perceptions. This type of line has the power to live and communicate outside of the context of an advertising execution or campaign. It can be brand based, a brand line, or corporate based, though in the latter context it would be called a corporate line, eg. BT’s ‘It’s good to talk’ or Ford’s ‘Everything we do is driven by you’. Moreover, we would suggest that, with slogans some form of action on the part of the brand or consumer seems to be implied or, looking at it another way, a brand belief system, philosophy or attitude is overtly or covertly suggested. Examples here include the aforementioned ‘It’s good to talk’, Philips’ ‘Let’s make things better’, Nike’s ‘Just do it’, ‘You’ve been Tango’ed’ and even ‘Heineken refreshes the parts other beers cannot reach’.

Advertising lines, especially executional endlines or sign-offs, tend to relate to a specific execution or campaign, frequently forming part of the structure of the execution and helping to resolve or stamp home the executional or creative idea.

These operate as a summation of the execution or campaign, and relate to a product benefit and/or the creative idea itself.

But maybe we are forcing the issue, as good straplines or endlines do, after time, seem to take on ‘slogan like’ qualities. Moreover, even if these can be seen as two approaches it would be hard to argue that one approach is better than the other. This is dependent on what is expected of the endline, the role of the advertising, how transferable to other mediums the endline needs to be, or should be, and so on. From a consumer perspective they are in effect, one and the same, and for the purposes of this paper we will use the term ‘endline’ throughout as a catch-all.

The other issue raised here and implicit in the above discussion, is the type of endline used and the intended role for the line. In our review of the current situation, we encountered various types of endlines or endline ‘models’, some more brand identity focused, some more consumer focused. The main ones are listed, though there are others, and even the ones listed could be said to have overlap:

The ‘who we are’ or ‘what we are’ model, eg:
‘No nonsense bitter’ (John Smith’s)
‘The most reliable member of your family ‘ (Nissan Almera)
The ‘what we believe’ model, eg:
‘X is a right not a privilege’ (Vauxhall)
‘Every little helps’ (Tesco)
The ‘what we offer’ model, eg:
‘Surprisingly ordinary prices’ (VW Golf)
The ‘what we do for you’ model, eg:
‘That’s better. That’s Tetley’ (Tetley Tea)
‘Be small again’ (Fiat Seicento)
Where synergy between the advertising idea and endline model is strong, for example a demonstration of what we do for you, the endline has more impact. However, synergy does not always exist, and this can weaken the potential for the endline. Such lack of synergy may or may not be considered an issue depending on the intended role for a specific line.

We see four main ways in which an endline may be designed to work, and these are by no means mutually exclusive.

4 key roles:

Line as basic call to action, eg:
- ‘Get down to Our Price’

* Line to resolve or stamp home the creative/executional idea or storyline (thereby communicating or reinforcing an advertising message), eg:
- Ikea: ‘Stop being so English’

- Nissan Micra: ‘Ask before you borrow it’

- Renault Clio: ‘Size matters’

- Strongbow: ‘Live to loaf’

(* In most of these cases the endline is essential to make sense of
the idea itself)

Strongly related to the above, lines underpinning and holding together a campaign thought, eg:
- Audi: ‘Vorchsprung durch technik’

Lines which introduce or reinforce a belief about the brand. Such lines can be reminders of the brand proposition, a statement about the brand’s specific product benefits, a reflection of brand identity, philosophy or attitude, and so on. Corporate lines can fall within this categorisation, although their role can sometimes be to rally employees rather than win over consumers to the ‘vision’ expressed.
It is this final role, that of introducing or reinforcing a belief about the brand, which we now wish to focus on. In fulfilling this latter role in particular, endlines come closer to what we mean by the term a brand line or slogan (as opposed to an advertising line). As noted, advertising lines can evolve into brand lines/slogans, and we would suggest Boddington’s ‘Cream of Manchester’ as an example here. Galaxy’s ‘Why have cotton when you can have silk’ or ‘Raised the Hovis way’ are other examples.

We are not in a position to say whether, when written, these were intended to be ‘slogans’, and we acknowledge that not all lines will be written with this objective. What becomes of these lines is ultimately a function of how consumers relate to and use the lines, and we now want to consider the role of endlines from a consumer perspective.

From the consumer’s viewpoint, the rationale for an endline is that it acts as a device to link an advertising campaign together, and serves as a trigger to recall that advertising or brand. We would not disagree with this, and it can be true to say that ‘endlines trigger the parts that other creative devices cannot reach’; but this would only be partially true. Different endlines or slogans allow access to the brand or advertising meaning in different ways and at different levels, depending on the nature of the endline and the role of the advertising.

Moreover, few endlines are used in this way (ie. divorced from the advertising context yet expected to trigger advertising associations) - but more of this later.

Some initial research

As mentioned earlier, we did conduct some exploratory research amongst a small sample of 100 people (60% female, 40% male) aged between 17 and 45. The objective was to see what consumers felt about endlines, whether they could remember any, or attribute brands to a selection of endlines, and what they perceived the role of endlines to be. The research comprised 15 minute qualitative interviews in hall, exploring consumer attitudes towards endlines and looking at levels and type of recall for a random selection of, primarily, fmcg brand endlines (past and present), and a random selection of brands. Given the small nature of the study, the bias towards fmcg rather than financial services or car brands, and South East locations, the findings are hardly scientific. Nevertheless, they provide scope for some hypotheses, and a number of interesting though not very surprising insights emerged.

First, famous lines from the past were consistently attributed to the correct brand, although few were able to remember many executional details from the advertising which had accompanied the slogan. Nevertheless, these lines still had the power to deliver a message in relation to the brand, or at least to trigger pack or branding device recall (eg. ‘For great lager follow the bear’).

Recall was often assisted when the slogan or advertisement had been accompanied by a jingle. TSB, Hamlet, Heinz Baked Beans, Martini and the aforementioned Hofmeister tended to fall into this camp.
Secondly, some endlines (either current or from a more recent past), when correctly attributed to the brand, served to trigger sounds and images from the advertising executions themselves, indicating that these endlines potentially operate as a gateway into the creative with all its rational and emotional communications. The Kit Kat, Tango and Boddington’s endlines are some good examples of where this occurred.
Finally, some more recent ads, whilst not necessarily bringing the creative execution to mind in this much detail, were strongly linked to brand logo, symbol, packaging or other branding devices, particularly for the target consumers for the advertising. Moreover, the strength of some of these lines seemed to lie in the fact that they could operate beyond the realms of the advertising idea, because they appeared expressive of a brand philosophy or reflected a brand attitude which mirrored real consumer sentiment. ‘Just do it’ for Nike and BT’s ‘It’s good to talk’ are examples here.

Tango, in addressing the consumer with its ‘You know when’ phrase, rather than just making a statement about the product, could be seen to fall into this camp. With Tango, a clear brand attitude is linked to the endline, which in turn promises the consumer something more than a product experience. In generating the desire to be ‘Tango’ed’ or even to be a ‘Tango sort of guy’ the endline is almost operating as a call to action in a similar way to Nike’s ‘Just do it’.
Importantly, all the lines for the examples given were deemed highly memorable. Indeed, it is crucial to note that links between the endline and the brand and its imagery can only really operate if the endline is registered and remembered. This is true for the endline, not only in the context of the advertising, but also for when the line is divorced from its original advertising executions. In terms of the extent to which an endline can contribute to brand perceptions, we would argue that it is the extent to which the endline is memorable and correctly attributed to a brand which lies at the heart of assessing whether it is a powerful endline.

Indeed, if the endline is not remembered it is not really doing anything. If it is remembered, this can certainly help the way in which brand meaning is stored. However, you may ask ‘What if the endline is memorable and remembered but thought to be obvious, tacky, cheesy, clichéd, unimaginative, etc?’ Our feeling is that, provided the execution and creative idea are well received this will not be detrimental to the advertising, but it can modify a generally positive response by letting the ad down at the end.

Why and how are endlines remembered?

We now want to consider those endlines in the research which performed well or poorly in terms of recall and correct brand association. The endlines which performed well are listed in Exhibit I along with the percentages of ‘correct brand associations’ for the line.


Successful Lines: % correctly attributing to brand

Kit Kat (Break)


Guinness (Black and white)


Milk Tray (All because )


Iceland (Mum’s gone)


Carling Black Label (I bet)


Orange (The future’s)


Pringles (Once you pop)


TSB (... yes)


Nike (Just do it)


Barclaycard (Put it on)


The National Lottery (It could be you)


Toyota (Car in front)


Tango (You know when)


Carlsberg (Probably)


Boddington’s (The cream of)


(Midland Bank (Listening)
NB: still 47% mis-attributing!)


Those which performed poorly, all scoring less than 40%, included Amex, Nurofen, Budweiser, Tetley Bitter, Ford Escort, Stella Artois, John Smith’s and Doritos. Nevertheless, some of these did perform much better amongst their target audiences, for example Doritos with younger adults/teenagers, and Stella Artois with male lager drinkers.

It is not too difficult to understand why some of the top scorers were performing well: campaign longevity and/or a large ad spend no doubt help explain the high and correct brand associations for Kit Kat, Milk Tray, Carling Black Label and The National Lottery. Nevertheless, even within these campaigns other factors do come into play. For example, with ‘Have a break, have a Kit Kat’ the slogan relates to an important sequence in the advertising - the break, which itself has dual meaning - breaking the chocolate, breaking from activity. The dual meaning of ‘The cream of Manchester’ also works well, so that the endline is deemed clever. It is also highly synergetic with the executions which are all about creaminess and a ‘Mancunian’ attitude. ‘I bet he drinks...Carling Black Label’ is occasionally misattributed to Carlsberg (Probably) and vice versa, but on the whole, time has allowed accurate associations. In both instances the executions are seen to ‘build up’ to the endline; the endline being the resolution for the storyline. This serves to add impact, reward and amuse, ensuring good recall. Moreover, the brand name is a crucial part of the endline. Tango is also hard to misattribute given that the name is a part of the endline. Furthermore, its power lies in the experiential promise of the line which relates to both product and brand attitude.

Still on the subject of things orange, Orange’s ‘The future’s bright’ endline has a good fit with the surreal quality of the advertising and the use of the colour orange. Moreover, the incongruity of the brand name within the sector aids memorability. ‘Mum’s gone to Iceland’ with its humorous play on the name works due to the benefit of having Iceland as a name. Finally ‘It could be you’ is intrinsically linked with the visual ‘finger’ mnemonic (supported by logo), ensuring memorability.

Pringles’ line is somewhat different, in that this is not as well-established a campaign, yet the endline is well recalled and associated with the brand. The factors enabling this are the catchiness of the line, its rhythm and the fact that it conveys a product truth - the top ‘pops’ and Pringles are moreish. In short, an onomatopoeic use of endline which works well!

Interestingly, Pringles was one of the few top scorers which did not feature the brand name within the endline. It may be an obvious point to make, but association of brand with endline is heightened when the brand name is an integral part of the line itself, especially when the brand is not separated from the line by punctuation. To some extent this accounts for the strong identification of ‘The car in front is’ with Toyota and the poorer identification of ‘The drive of your life’ with Peugeot.

Nevertheless, as the Pringles example demonstrates, when the line is highly synergistic with consumer perceptions of the brand (and relates to the advertising execution), it is not necessary for the brand name to feature in the endline. Indeed, recall in such instances serves to further demonstrate the extent to which such endlines have relevance, appropriateness and potency.

These then are some of the factors contributing to the ‘performance’ of these endlines. Another factor is that most of these slogans tend to be (or started off being), spoken and the way in which they are spoken can further enable registration. Carlsberg’s ‘Probably’ and ‘You know when you’ve been Tango’ed’ work in this way, with the voice adding a further dimension to the endline. This is not to say that endlines have to be spoken. In some instances this can seem like hitting the consumer over the head with a slogan. Indeed, once an endline has registered, a more subtle treatment, for example moving from the spoken to the purely written, helps demonstrate how the brand acknowledges its audience’s intelligence and their appreciation of the advertising. In some cases dropping the endline altogether, whilst still running with the same campaign or strategy may also be appropriate; the sight of the logo will bring the endline to mind anyway. The role of a voice in adding deeper meaning, weight, authority or attitude should not, however, be underestimated, and here spoken endlines can help reinforce brand tone of voice.

The poor recall of Caffrey’s ‘Strong words softly spoken’, despite high recall of the advertising, suggests that some endlines can fail to register if not spoken, especially at the outset. In this instance a silent endline may have been deemed appropriate to these mood and feelings based executions. It could also be argued however, that talking about words and speech (a rational domain) bore little relationship to the feelings (an emotional domain) generated by this campaign: the apparent synergy between the endline and creative was perhaps too tenuous?!

Poorly recalled endlines

And what of those endlines which were not so well remembered in relation to their respective campaigns? Needless to say, if the ads themselves are not well remembered neither are the endlines. Nevertheless, the endlines for well known campaigns can also not register. Budweiser’s ‘The genuine article’, in the absence of a category reference, can lack meaning and be seen as a generic promise applying to any category, eg. clothes or spirits. ‘Targeted relief from pain’ for Nurofen also suffers from being too generic when divorced from the advertising. This is not to say a generic promise can not be utilised in an endline, but it seems to register more strongly where the brand name, a clear branding device, brand tone of voice or occasionally ‘structural branding’ is incorporated as part of the make up of the endline (eg. ‘Get a little extra help from the Halifax’).

Another obstacle to good endline recall can just be ‘information overload’, whereby the executions are so full of other triggers to recall which relate to the brand proposition that the endline is ‘swallowed up’! John Smiths previous use of Jack Dee, and the no gimmicks thought (combined with gimmicks) results in the ‘No Nonsense Bitter’ endline getting lost. This does not detract from the commercials but it does appear that the slogan is adding little to the advertising for consumers. The essence of the communication for the brand has been registered in other ways. Consequently, the endline operates merely as a sign- off rather than as a brand line. We would question the need for such ‘sign-offs’ which are not seen to be contributing anything more to the advertising. Furthermore, we would argue that strong endlines are those which can live divorced from the creative yet carry with them the creative idea and an image of the brand. People can see the line out of context yet immediately attribute the correct brand to it or, when confronted with the brand, immediately remember the line. We should note that from our research, recall of an endline, when given the brand name, is generally lower than the other way round, some notable exceptions being Carlsberg and Hula Hoops! Nevertheless, there is considerable correlation between being shown an endline or slogan and recalling the brand well (or not) and being shown the brand and knowing the endline (or not).

We have focused here on some reasons as to how and why certain endlines work well, working well being assessed in this instance by memorability and correct brand association.

Why endlines?

However, this does not truly address the issue as to whether endlines in themselves are desirable. This question takes us into back to the initial debate, our starting point, as well as the role of advertising, the task for a given piece of advertising, and the whole thorny area of advertising effectiveness and its measurement.

Without wishing to enter this territory, we would suggest that advertising is essentially at its most effective when it alters purchase intention and/or purchase behaviour to the benefit of the brand. At the risk of sounding simplistic, good advertising is well and fondly remembered (albeit stored in different ways), and importantly helps form perceptions of a brand. This can contribute to purchase intention and behaviour. A potent slogan or endline can be part of the way in which the advertising is stored, acting as a summation of what the brand is about or stands for. Moreover, at its mention, a host of motivating brand associations can be triggered. This is not to say there are not other triggers to advertising communications or brand imagery; the pack and the name itself being key at point of purchase. Moreover, seeing the pack may well trigger advertising images, memories and feelings at a conscious or sub-conscious level that do not include or need the endline. However, such images or brand perceptions might not necessarily relate to the prime communication intent of the advertising, especially new advertising designed to reframe a brand or move it forward. Memorable endlines can help ensure new messages are taken on board.

If such is the case is there a function for the endline outside of the advertising execution itself? We have seen that endlines are not essential to the memorability of a campaign, although when they work they add an extra dimension to the idea (in consumers’ minds) and can stamp the idea home. For many consumers however, the role of the endline is to aid memorability of the advertising, through reinforcement of the advertising message and/or creative idea, and to serve as a trigger for recall.

With respect to this latter point, a key question is: ‘how often are consumers seeing this endline (which can trigger recall of brand imagery) divorced from the advertising?’ It can usefully perform this role at point of purchase. Indeed, much of the value of the endline can lie in this role, and this should have implications for use of the slogan on pack or at point of sale. Our research has indicated that for campaigns with strong endlines this would serve a useful purpose, linking the various elements of the communications mix together and reinforcing brand imagery or meaning at point of purchase.

The other value of endlines is that they do get talked about, particularly by the young, but perhaps no more so than does a catchy line from within the execution, for example ‘By heck, it’s gorgeous’ or ‘You’re spoiling us’, the latter being said with ironic reference to the Ferrero Rocher advertising. Indeed, this brings us back to the issue of memorable catchphrases or slogans which are nevertheless deemed ‘cheesy’ by consumers, and are used with a sense of considerable irony in common parlance. What is the effect of this behaviour on the brand? True, the brand will be remembered, but the light in which it is remembered is more questionable.

Finally, endlines serve to underpin a campaign, and it could be argued that changing a well-loved endline when moving a campaign on could have a detrimental effect on the brand. This is especially the case when the endline is starting to become part of the brand, and operates as a memorable encapsulation of what the brand stands for. New messages and new endlines at this stage can prove confusing, leaving consumers uncertain as to what the brand is really about. This is not to say, however, that endlines cannot evolve allowing scope for fresh creative, and Heineken’s ‘How refreshing, how Heineken’ is, we would argue, a good example of this. It still retains the refreshment thought as part of the brand equity, but opens the idea to new creative work and different brand imagery. On the other hand endlines can get tired unless fresh creative work is able to sustain their appeal. Moreover, they can start to lack relevance when it is time to move the brand forward, and can indeed hold the brand back (eg. ‘Lucozade aids recovery’).


When endlines are relevant and have meaning for their audience, either in relation to target attitudes or to the product in question, they carry weight and keep the brand salient. If they fail in this respect they can seem clichéd, dated and unnecessary. Importantly, the potential for strong endlines at point of purchase should not be underestimated.

If an endline is to work, by which we mean that it is memorable, meaningful, believable and not clichéd, there are several key factors which must be considered:

Will it appear slapped on? This will be the case when the endline is seen to lack synergy with the creative idea or with the brand/product being advertised. In short, the endline ‘model’ bears little relation to the advertising idea.
Is the brand integrated into the endline itself, either per se or via unmistakable connections to the advertising idea?
Is it too generic a line when divorced from the content of the advertising or brand name? In this case it will not be memorable or meaningful (eg. ‘The genuine article’).
Is it clever? There are many ways in which slogans or endlines can be deemed to be clever. In particular, phrases with dual meaning (eg. ‘The Cream of Manchester’), onomatopoeic rhythm (Pringles), or challenging/ suggestive phrases (eg. Castlemaine XXXX) seem to work well.
Does it tap into or relate to the target market’s viewpoint of the world, either in relation to the product category, or in broader terms? Nike’s ‘Just do it’ and Playstation’s ‘Never underestimate the power ...’ succeed at these levels. Nike, in particular, captures the spirit of a large section of its market, creating the impression the brand understands them and is behind them.
Is it believable? Credibility can be a problem when the endline, taken literally, is seen to overclaim and is therefore rejected. However deliberate, ironic overclaims which have synergy with brand tone of voice work well (eg. Diesel).
Will it work if it is not spoken? If it is spoken, will it be ‘too much’, or will a spoken endline assist in communicating brand tone of voice?
Is it campaignable, or is it potentially too restrictive for the creative?
The consideration of such questions can help in assessing the potential for an endline, especially when it is required to act as a branding tool rather than simply as an executional device. If the endline is to operate as one of the influencers of brand perceptions, we would argue that if satisfactory answers cannot be given to the above questions, it may not be worth struggling to get ‘any old endline’, as it is likely to be irrelevant and unhelpful.

Anonymous said...

p.s: i win the longest comment ever comp.

Anonymous said...

You could have just written:


You daft [expletive].

Scamp said...

Sorry Ben

Anonymous said...

Endlines have an important role to play if they reinforce your creative idea, the product's benefits or the brand's values in the audience's mind. They should not be used to explain a half-arsed ad that doesn't make any sense. Unfortunately, it seems a fair few teams/agencies don't get this

Anonymous said...

Oh, and if you didn't get the "...bit of animal" double-meaning you should be ashamed – you are not puerile enough.

Anonymous said...

Any chance of a post or comment on Mr Charlie Brookers acidic analysis of advertising (available to watch on the iPlayer) I thought it was very good of Matt Walker to be the anonymous insider.

Anonymous said...

Alan Wolk - doesn't the bombardment of media channels you talk about kind of support the endline argument? To ensure a clear and consistent brand message?

maybe there aren't as many as there used to be though.

perhaps the reason for this is the speed with which marketing teams change these days. An endline won't survive a new marketing guy wanting their own campaign. This means the line/idea doesn't develop and become well known and liked like before (the first carling black label ads for example were pretty basic).

this has then lend to a trend away from them maybe.

Ben Kay said...

Oops. Confused your blog with mine.

Unknown said...

@ Ben- thanks (for the link to the extra long post)

@ Anonymous 5:55 PM - the explosion of media outlets would definitely argue for the value of end lines if end lines (in the US anyway) weren't regarded as seriously outdated (by consumers, not ad people.)
By the same measure, a consistent design scheme can have the same effect. Apple doesn't have an end line, yet you are always very aware that something's from Apple when you see it, mostly due to the consistency of the design.

@Dave- thanks for the link to the "corny" post- I have read and commented. And bookmarked too-- will definitely be checking you out on a regular basis.

Anonymous said...

has anything really changed? or is it just the fact that your endline or core line, or whatever, just needs to good – as always.

'True' in the Wassup campaign for instance just nailed it after all the gags. I don't think that will ever date.

For me, that's what's interesting about lines. Design will date or at least be fixed in time, but a great line will always be a great line.

But it has to be a truism I think. The Future's Bright The Future's Orange sounds well dated to me now for instance. Or maybe that's because it always was addy.

faris said...

scamp - try paronomasia instead of puns

the reason we use them is because a] they allow greater DENSITY of meaning - compressed into a phrase

b] they give the reader something to do - engagement

apparently in chinese ads they can layer loads more meaning due the fact that the ideograms can take such different meanings. sounds cool.

Anca said...

Faris -- you have a very good point there. It would be very interesting to compare tendencies from a linguistic perspective. This question about using or not using endlines anymore might be also connected to the language used. I reckon countries with Latin official languages would be the first to get rid of endlines, because in their languages it is very difficult to write a compressed line. So creatives definitely hate everything that means short line. English seems to be one of the best language options in terms of compression. Whatever in English takes two words to express, in a Latin-based language takes a whole sentence.

Anonymous said...


i looked at your site and you should spend more time working on your ads and less commenting on this blog.

And get a haircut hippy.

Anonymous said...


You know very little about her time but we still appreciate your efforts as a hairdresser. With all this crazy crisis going on, I'm sure people will afford less and less shampoos and your career will bloom. Patience, dear, patience.

Anonymous said...

anon. 12.00

Oi, leave Anca alone! she is quality.

and clearly braver than you or I.

Anonymous said...

extra geeky fact about JUST DO IT. the world's greatest endline.

dan wieden got the line from something murderer Gary Gilmore reportedly said to the firing squad in the instant before they shot him:

Do it! Just do it!

at least that's what dan himself says. true.

Anonymous said...

dave T - I've criticised you in the past, but that post on 'corny' is quality.

quick question - how much contribution did the planning have in John Webster's work?

I heard, for instance, that the Smash Martians concept was changed once it had been researched.

I'm not bigging up planning. But BMP did invent it, so just wondered if it made a big difference.

Anonymous said...

I think that anca and wolk need to get out more.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, dear, I keep her busy. You on the other hand were neither witty, nor constructive in any way. And anonymous. Might want to visit the House Rules section. Oh, and by the way, pubs have free wireless networks in some parts of the world. Travel more.