Every company hopes to create an advertising tagline for their product or service that stands the test of time, but Philadelphia's NW Ayer & Son was behind one that may last, well, forever. Frances Gerety, a copywriter for the now-defunct agency, coined "A Diamond is Forever" in 1948 for Johannesburg, South Africa, diamond company DeBeers.
That memorable tagline and 24 others were among the best-ever advertising taglines as rated by a group of 10 CMOs and advertising experts, including Barry Judge, chief marketing officer of popular electronics retailer Best Buy; Michael Mendenhall, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for technology giant Hewlett-Packard; Gerry Rubin of advertising and marketing agency Rubin, Postaer and Associates; and Tony Palmer, CMO of health care product manufacturer Kimberly-Clark. When there was a tie, veteran ad-watching editors at Forbes weighed in on the selections.
Many of the "best" taglines were created years, if not decades, ago when it was easier for advertisers to make a big splash. Engine USA CEO Martin Puris, a longtime ad executive and one of the tagline judges, has recalled that the tagline his former agency, Ammirati & Puris, created in 1971 for BMW - "The Ultimate Driving Machine" - was launched as part of an $800,000 magazine campaign.
Oregon-based athletic apparel manufacturer Nike in 1988 introduced a tagline that has since become the rallying cry for all athletes. Three simple words that would eventually hold great meaning: "Just Do It." Created by ad agency Wieden + Kennedy, the tagline, along with the Nike "swoosh," now represent Nike. The tagline was unique for its time in that it acknowledged that Nike products could only go so far - consumers first had to be ready to make the lifestyle changes athletic activity entails.
Sometimes the best tagline is one that tells you in no uncertain terms what the product does. Take, for instance, Mars' M&Ms chocolates. The company's famous "The milk chocolate melts in your mouth, not in your hand," slogan was created in 1954 by ad agency Bates & Co. As you might expect, M&Ms were, as advertised, a less messy chocolate treat than some of the others available on the market. This was especially attractive to families who didn't want to clean chocolate hand prints off their walls.
What makes taglines like the ones above and the ones found on the rest of the list so timeless? Sometimes, it's when a tagline can transcend generations. "When it connects across all generations, geographies and markets--and becomes relevant for the consumer in his [or] her own personal way," said Christa Carone, vice president of marketing and communications for document management company Xerox, and one of the tagline judges.
"Case in point: While I was distracted with something else, my six-year-old picked up my cell phone last night and screamed, "Can you hear me now?!" She made her point and I got the connection. And, yes, it is a Verizon phone."