Don’t kid around with commando marketing

How many marketers venture out into the competitive battlefield unarmed? Positioning, marketing strategy and target market segmentation are typically the first items added to the marketer’s arsenal. (Yes, there will be military metaphors so don’t get uneasy.)

Yet the most powerful weapon a marketer can wield is often ignored or given too little attention. We’re talking about the tagline — or slogan, theme, catchphrase if you prefer.

What is the one thing that consumers recall about a brand or specific product long after they have been exposed to the marketing? Let’s think. “Just do it” has been doing it for close to 50 years. “Diamonds are forever” seems like it’s been around forever, if you think of nearly a century as forever. “The Ultimate Driving Machine” has been driving sales for almost half a century. “If you see something, say something” is a relative youngster with a mere two decades of exposure.

The tagline is the foundation on which the brand and product rests and the marketing lives. Think of a house with a weak foundation. First big wind and crash!

Launching a marketing campaign without a clear, creative and potent tagline is like going “commando” into a snow storm. All it takes is one blast of cold air to make you regret your decision and freeze your &$#@ off!

A tagline lives long after the advertising is seen, heard or read. A tagline that works is one that delivers on a T-shirt, bumper sticker, envelope, website heading, guerilla marketing, virtually anywhere you want to get your message across.

What happens if you don’t have a strong tagline?

The other day I went to the gym in my town. The gym is contained in a large fitness center where they also conduct a day camp for 6 to 12 year old children in the summer. I was in the men’s locker room getting ready for my workout. At the same time a group of 6-7 year old boys were getting finished dressing after swimming in the center’s pool. The camp counselors were urging them to get moving so they could go and play dodgeball. Clothes were flying all over the place in between the kids playing tag, trading punches and raising a general ruckus.

I noticed one of the boys becoming visibly upset. He was standing in the middle of the locker room patting himself down with his hands, all the while with a look of despair growing on his face.

Suddenly he he let out a wail. “I forgot my underwear!”

In other words, he discovered he was going “commando” into the rough and tumble dodgeball arena — not to mention having to face his mom when he went home.

Advertising is not only a serious business. It’s also expensive and competitive. Remember the importance of the tagline. if you want to be a marketing and advertising commander and not just another forgotten commando.


About nhbrownlee

Advertising copywriter, Creative Director and state of New York college professor. I love true stories. Who doesn't?
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