Pat's View: Slogans

By Pat Cashman

It was in a coffee place whose marketing slogan was posted right behind the counter: “Just Brew It!” My order had arrived: A grande, quad, non-fat latte with caramel drizzle, iced, sugar-free, with soy, chocolate sauce, cinnamon, nutmeg, extra whip, 10 pumps of vanilla with an extra shot at 120 degrees---and a sprinkling of bacon.
It was a bit expensive. I paid with a hundred dollar bill, receiving 58 cents in change.

I strolled out the door just as a large disposal truck passed by. There was signage on the side of the vehicle---with a slogan below the company’s logo. It read, “We will do whatever it takes.”
What does that mean? “We will pick up your trash at gunpoint?”
The slogan seems to fit the mission of a Navy Seals special operations force---not a garbage crew. Rather than “We will do whatever it takes,” shouldn’t the slogan be reconfigured to “We will take whatever you do”?

It could be my imagination, but we seem to be entering a new golden age of retail business sloganeering. There is also an excess of cheesy advertising ---all of which sounds pretty identical. If the idea of a ad jingle is to be memorable and motivate consumer action, most current local commercial music falls well short. Plus, most jingle singers simply repeat what the announcer has already said.

Example:
ANNOUNCER: “So be sure to get down to Home City Bank today!”
JINGLE SINGERS (singing): “So be sure to get down to Home City Bank today!”
ANNOUNCER: “Member FDIC.”
JINGLE SINGERS: (singing) “Member FDIC.”
ANNOUNCER: “OK everybody, you didn’t need to sing that last part about FDIC.”
JINGLE SINGERS: (singing) “OK everybody, you didn’t need to sing that---“
ANNOUNCER: “Shut up!”
JINGLE SINGERS: (singing) “Shut up!”

But while every business might not be able to afford a swell jingle, there is no effort involved in coming up with a slogan. Seems everyone has to have one these days. Probably even slogan oompanies themselves: “A nifty slogan really pays…call us for a catchy phrase.”

A familiar one: “Why buy a mattress anywhere else?”---the longtime Sleep Country slogan---has presumably been retired since the company has been swallowed up by another one. But with the slogan now up for grabs, what’s wrong with our state snatching it? “Washington State. Why buy a mattress anywhere else?”

Among all businesses, plumbing companies for some reason seem to be among the most frequent sloganeers. Locally, “Stop your freankin’, call Beacon” may have achieved the highest familiarity---beating out “Stop your panickin’, call Hannikan” and “Don’t panic, call Stan Wick.”

But more creative examples abound among plumbers:
“We drain your worries, not your wallet.”
“A flush that beats a full house.”
“We repair what your husband fixed.”
“The best place to take your leaks.” (This one needs improvement since it implies that you need to bring your problems to the plumber.)

Sometimes a certain last name makes the slogan easy---like Einstein Plumbing “The smart choice.” This would also work for potential “Da Vinci”, “Newton”, “Hawking” and “Archimedes” plumbing places. Considerably less comforting would be “Jack the Ripper”, “Vlad the Impaler” and “Ivan the Terrible” Plumbing.

Not all plumbing company slogans are so brilliant. Among the less inspired:
“We’re plumb crazy.”
“All cisterns go.”
“Got a leak? I’ll take a peek.”
“If it weren’t for us, you’d have no place to go.”
And the all-time worst: “Pity the stool.” Pity the slogan writer.
Runner up? “We’re number one in the number two business.”

But one popular slogan---and one that you often see for most every kind of business---including plumbers---is the trusty: “No job too big or too small.” On the old local Almost Live! sketch TV show, the great writer Bob Nelson came up with a splendid script based on that very claim.

It went something like this:
Phone rings. Bob answers, “Hello, Carlson’s Cement Company. No job too big or too small.” Bob listens to the caller for a moment, then replies, “No, that’s too big! Way too big! How am I supposed to do a job that big? It’s just me and my dumb kid Carl working here! Come on! Think!” He slams the phone down.

Within seconds, the phone rings again. Bob answers, “Hello, Carlson’s Cement Company. No job too big or too small.” Bob listens for a moment, then replies, “You say you have two jobs? What’s the first one?” He listens, then replies, “No can do. That job’s too small. Way too small! What’s the other job?”

He listens, then replies, “What are you nuts? That one’s too big! Way too big!” There’s a pause, then Bob says, “Yea, you do that!”

He slams the phone down.

Then turns on his ‘closed’ sign.

pat@patcashman.com
Pat was a longtime cast member and writer on KING 5’s Almost Live---which continues to air in popular re-runs. He is a keynote speaker---and a fundraiser auctioneer---plus he co-hosts a weekly on-line talk show: Peculiarpodcast.com

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