From French Fancies to Sabb candidates; Flora Carr looks at the power of the slogan…
Scrolling through pages of recent news stories on my laptop, I saw a picture of a cake. Naturally I clicked on it. The headline jumped out at me: “Exceedingly sad news!” The article described how, after 47 years of using the slogan ‘exceedingly good cakes’, Mr Kipling – the company that’s been enticing us since 1967 with Battenburg, Cherry Bakewells and Angel Slices – is set for a brand makeover that could well mean the famous tagline disappears. And whilst, admittedly, I kept getting distracted half-way through reading by the thought of Mr. Kipling’s excellent French Fancies (don’t you just love the creamy bit at the top under the icing?), the article definitely gave me pause for thought. Or perhaps food for thought. It’s a story that’s been picked up on by a number of newspapers, including The Mail and The Telegraph; full length stories with, happily, accompanying pictures. And yet at the end of the day, they’re articles on the slogan of a cake company. Surely it makes little difference if a tagline ‘exceedingly good cakes’ is ditched for something else? Is ‘exceedingly good’ so different from ‘very good cakes’, ‘fabulously good cakes’ or even ‘really very good cakes, you should definitely buy these’?
Then again, when I think about it, slogans in advertising have a huge impact on us and today’s culture, whether we recognise it or not. One of my favourite film insults relies on the Skittles ‘Taste the Rainbow’ tagline (“Yo’ mama’s so fat she sat on a rainbow and skittles popped out”). There was a period in my primary school when everyone referred to things as ‘grrr-reat’, Tony the Tiger style, and we’re all guilty, at some moment in our lives, of swishing our hair whilst saying the immortal line (Cheryl Cole Geordie accent optional) “Because You’re Worth It”. Taglines such as ‘I’m Lovin’ It’ and ‘Finger Lickin’ Good’ have become part of our everyday lives.
They can also make or break a company. Following the TV adverts, I now have a burning desire – no, need – for a Sergei the Meerkat toy. It’s a fact that Mr. Kipling has clearly picked up on. A tagline can sell anything, from cakes to cars, from deodorant to finger lickin’ chicken. It can also sell people. Who can forget the chant ‘Yes We Can’ from Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign? But only recently there were examples of taglines making or breaking campaigns right in front of our noses: the SABB Elections, which concluded in February.
It’s perhaps an open secret that a good slogan makes or breaks a candidate in any university guild election. Helena Gadsby, a first year, says “Slogans help me remember the person- I’ll remember a slogan over what their proposals are, and if I remember liking the person I’m going to vote for them!” During election week I was determined to vote after discovering that only 34 per cent of students had voted last year; I allowed students dressed as bees to follow me up the Forum Hill, I took flyers, I even tried to read manifestos. But I soon felt overwhelmed by information and by faces – it seemed half of Exeter students were running for something or else campaigning for others. Guilty as charged, in the end it was the taglines that sold the candidates to me, particularly for those positions about which I knew little. My vote for next year’s president was based purely on her excellently cheesy tagline (“Rach for the Stars”) and her proposals for a puppy room. Equally the “Take The Bate” hashtag for Matt Bate, next year’s VP Activities, and the simple fish logo had me, well, hooked.
Whilst I made sure I agreed with most of each candidate’s proposals before voting for them, ultimately it was the slogan that drew me in. Does this say much about society today? We live in a very visual world; our generation in particular has grown up surrounded by computers and social media. We are bombarded with advertisements on TV screens, on billboards, on posters at bus stops. No wonder we can’t stop singing ‘I’m Lovin’ It.’ But is a more visual, slogan-driven world necessarily a bad thing? The best slogans are those that concisely summarise what a company is about.
Personally, I want my chicken finger lickin’. Who doesn’t? Whilst we need a solid grounding in a SABB candidate’s goals, a clever tagline engages a student, encouraging them to get involved and participate in ways that a long speech printed and handed out outside a lecture theatre never could. And surely we want a SABB candidate who understands the average student, who wants them to engage and knows how to make that happen? Whilst newspapers may find it ‘exceedingly sad’ that Mr. Kipling is undergoing rebranding, their decision to re-evaluate what the public wants only inspires me to buy more French Fancies (like I needed an excuse). Besides, what better procrastination is there than making up potential campaign slogans for your friends and yourself? “Flora Carr: Driving for Change.” What do you think? Yes? No? Well, personally, I think it’s grrr-reat.
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