Way back in the mid 90’s, I worked on advertising for a sophisticated computerized dating service, for which the algorithms and such were designed by some big-brained Northwestern University professor. The idea was to encourage radio stations to subscribe to this service, which could be branded with the radio station’s brand. It could be called, for example, Q101 Dateline, or something similar. Among the other things I wrote for this client was the tagline—well, actually, three taglines—for the service, regardless of which radio station stamped their brand on the service.
Because people generally view dating services through a jaundiced, skeptical lens, I felt the tagline should address this as a way of differentiating this particular service. So I wrote a trio of taglines, designed to be used separately, or sequentially, whichever way the radio station chose. The tagline trio consisted of these:
It’s Doesn’t Suck.
It Doesn’t Bite.
It Doesn’t Blow.
I thought this language would resonate with the target audience. But, of course, they did so little advertising that it didn’t really matter what the tagline was.
Anyway, I mention all this in light of an email I received this week, an ebirthday card. The card was the product of Rattlebox. Their tagline is
FREE ecards that don’t suck.
They didn’t steal my idea. Because they would’ve had to have seen the tagline I wrote in order to steal it, and the odds of that border on zero.
It’s just one more example of parallel thought, or more evidence that there are only so many ideas out there.
But it highlights one reason why, if you’re in the business, it behooves you to pay close attention to the messages, images and language that are out there. A tagline, for example, that is fresh, original and effective today may not be five years from now simply because the environment is constantly changing. Whatever makes the line fresh, original and effective may be picked up on by others and used for their brand. The more that happens—the more exampled a piece of language becomes—the less power it will have.
So pay attention.