While the quote has been around since 1974, special effects took a little longer to bring it to life, in the shape of a more recent ad featuring a young Ali boxing with his daughter Laila.
Provocative straplines tend to question or challenge assumptions, causing the reader to pause and reconsider. Microsoft’s, “Where are you going today?” sounds more like a travel agency or rail operator, but it hints at possibilities. It creates a moment of intrigue. The same is true of the iconic and long-running campaign for America’s Milk Processors created by Jeff Goodby and Rich Silverstein. Deciding to pitch their campaign as using a ‘deprivation strategy’ they managed to turn milk from a commodity into a brand. Rather than saying: “Get milk!” they asked: “Got milk?” Because focus groups had suggested that milk is such a household staple, the real emotion sprang from the fear of its absence. The focus groups asked attendees to abstain from milk for a whole week before attending. It quickly revealed people’s emotional connection to something they took for granted.
This insight, and the resulting strapline, snowballed into a series of 180 images photographed exclusively by Annie Leibovitz. The photos feature A-listers like Harrison Ford, Britney Spears, Kate Moss, Dennis Rodman (photographed nude), Joan Rivers, Hanson, The Simpsons, and Kermit the Frog. Sarah Michelle Gellar even posed as Buffy.
Nowadays, going a week without milk is a drop in the ocean for most woke, ‘plant-based diet’ vegan hipsters. But that doesn’t mean they can’t have provocative straplines too. Oatly, the Swedish oat milk company has taken the market by storm with playful language such as: “Like milk but made for humans.”
And their strapline? “Wow, no cow!” another provocative twist on what isn’t there, rather than what is.
I’m lovin’ it
For a strapline to make a mark, it needs to be: Brief, Relevant, Unique, Intriguing, Simple & Easy to say. They can be Descriptive, Imperative, Provocative or Superlative. And sometimes, they can break the rules.
But without a doubt, the most critical part of devising an effective strapline isn’t just coming up with something that you love. It is coming with something relevant to your audience while expressing what is unique about your brand. They have to love it.
To do that you need to know exactly why your brand is unique in the first place, who your audience is and why they care about the way you do things. Without this insight, your strapline is doomed to be generic, meaningless or both.
If you need help creating your strapline or defining your brand, drop us a message. You can also head to our projects page to see some of our recent work.