I Swear, Quaker State Breaks New Tagline Ground.

Kudos to JWT Atlanta and their client, Quaker State, for having the courage to embrace a pioneering tagline:

Just Damn Good Oil.

As far as I know, this is the first tagline, at least for a national brand, that has employed a genuine swear word. I grand that “damn” isn’t much of a swear word, but hey, it’s a start. And if there’s a tagline out there that uses, say, “helluva”, I wouldn’t even count that as a swear word these days.

I love the straightforward, unvarnished passion in this tagline. Presumably, they can back up this statement with some facts about their oil that make it “just damn good”.

It is hard to believe that the advertising industry, which in other ways has been ahead of certain cultural curves, and has defied taboos of all sorts, could be as prudish as it has been regarding such colorful language.

Advertising has certainly kept pace with the crude bathroom humor that is so common in sitcoms these days. So, why the puritanicalness when it comes to language? Especially in the wake of Two and a Half Men, with its ingenious assault on the censor’s rules. In comparison with some of the salty banter of that show, most swear words are pretty dang mild.

Just a few years back, when I’m pretty sure no one else had successfully done this, I wrote a radio spot wherein a husband calls his wife to let her know he’s going to be home late. The wife, frustrated with this news, lets go a spicy harangue in response. We used no swear words in this script. But we did insert a few expletive deleted beeps in places where one might typically expect to hear swear words. The timid client shrank in horror at this script, although they begrudgingly acknowledged that it would assuredly cut through the clutter, and that it was dead on, strategy wise. Due to our spineless client, this spot didn’t get produced.

Since that time, I have heard a few ads, but only a few, that employed the expletive deleted beep, which, I suppose, took a little bit of courage to produce and air.

If you’ll indulge me, an aside about a different radio spot for the same client who recoiled in horror at the expletive deleted spot. We sold this client a spot in which we hear a cat screaming as it bites down on an electrical cord and, presumably, doesn’t survive the shock. We sold, produced and ran that spot, but only briefly because the client received one call complaining that it was inhumane to kill a cat in a commercial. This, despite the fact that we even included an announcer assuring us that “No kitties were harmed in the making of this commercial.”

Anyway, I want to salute Quaker State and JWT for going where no national advertiser has ever gone before. It’s about dang time someone did.

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