When Used Wisely, Words Are Powerful.

Since when are taglines the most horrid part of already bad advertising?
I don’t know the answer to that, but I do know I’m looking at two lines that are in contention for AdPulp’s new “Crap on a Stick” award.

  • Wal-Mart — Save Money. Live Better.
  • Sears — Life. Well Spent.

Yes, yes, I get that people want desperately to save money on basic purchases. But a tagline is not a campaign strategy. It’s meant to be a flourish. A big fat brushstroke of color. A poetic clincher. But we don’t have anything like that above. Instead we have two vague but competing notions about living a quality life as a result of value shopping.
Some traditional ways one goes about living a quality life: making time for your kids’ after school activities; long walks on the beach; annual trips to Napa; cultivating an organic garden; motoring about in an antique Chris Craft; playing in a rock band; frying just-caught brook trout over an open fire; and reading all of F. Scott Fitzgeralds books.
Shopping at Sears or Wal-Mart has absolutely nothing to do with a life well lived. Saying that it does makes me dislike the brands in question. These two need to focus on price exclusively. The philosophical territory they’ve entered is no place for poseurs.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.