Do You Know These Ad Slogans?

Daniel Ganninger
February 7, 2023

Do you know these famous slogans from the world of advertising? Test your slogan knowledge to see how well the ad companies have done their jobs.

Start me up.

Microsoft had the “Start me up” campaign created for the Windows 95 operating system roll-out. The company paid to use the Rolling Stones song of the same name to get people to want to push the program’s new start button.

The song came from the group’s 1981 album, Tattoo You. Rumors circulated for years that Microsoft paid the Stones between $8 million and $14 million to use the song, but the actual amount was $3 million according to retired Microsoft COO Bob Herbold.

Good to the last drop.

Maxwell House started using the slogan in the 1930s, but it had actually been around since 1917. The story goes that President Theodore Roosevelt was visiting Andrew Jackson’s estate, The Hermitage, in 1907. He was served Maxwell House coffee and supposedly said that it was, “Good to the last drop.” The owners of Maxwell House at the time, John Neal and Leon T. Cheek, heard the quote and used it as their company’s slogan. The problem was, what was really said didn’t coincide with the story.

A Tennessee newspaper reporter who was there when Roosevelt was drinking the Maxwell House coffee reported that the president actually said, “This is the kind of stuff I like to drink, by George, when I hunt bears.” Obviously, that statement wouldn’t have been as good a slogan to be used in an advertisement.

Where’s the beef?

Wendy’s popular “Where’s the beef?” campaign started in 1984. 81-year-old Clara Peller was the lady who was seen demanding where the beef was. The ad was credited for boosting Wendy’s annual revenue by 31% for the year.

Clara Peller had been a manicurist for 35 years and was discovered for the Wendy’s ad after she was seen in a local ad in Chicago. She went on to make a few sequels to the Wendy’s ad and made appearances on talk shows and a few TV shows. She was let go by Wendy’s a year later when she made an ad for Prego spaghetti sauce. In the commercial, she repeated the catchphrase and then declared, “I found it!” Wendy’s terminated her contract.

Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is.

The “plop, plop, fizz, fizz” jingle for Alka-Seltzer was written by Tom Dawes, a musician and former member of The Cyrkle, which was a band that once toured with the Beatles in 1966. Speedy Alka-Seltzer, the mascot of the antacid, had a hat and body made of Alka-Seltzer. He first sang the jingle in 1975.

Interestingly, earlier ads for Alka-Seltzer showed only one tablet being dropped in water. In later ads, two tablets were shown being dropped in a glass of water. The change was intentional so that consumers would use two tablets instead of one to improve sales.

Don’t leave home without them.

American Express started this ad campaign in 1975 to show that consumers shouldn’t go anywhere without their American Express Travelers Cheques. The first commercials featured Karl Malden. Later commercials used other celebrities to endorse the cheques and the credit card.

Reach out and touch someone.

The “Reach out and touch someone” was one of AT&T’s most successful ad campaigns and began in 1979. Marshal McLuhan was credited with originating the saying. McLuhan was a Canadian professor and philosopher, and his work involved media theory and analysis. He predicted the world wide web thirty years before it was invented and coined the phrase “the message is the medium” and the term “global village.”

Calgon, take me away!

This famous ad campaign had a woman dealing with the trial and tribulations of life. She just said the words, “Calgon, take me away!” and was transported to a lovely bath complete with lots of bubbles. The Calgon ad campaign started in the 1970s and ran into the 1980s. After a brief respite period, the slogan was resumed for use again in 1995.

Does she or doesn’t she?

In 1956, Shirley Polykoff, an ad writer in a mostly male-dominated business, came up with a catchphrase for Clariol that caught on almost overnight. It had to do with hair coloring and if a woman’s hair was dyed or not. In the mid-1950s, only about 7% of women dyed their hair. Within ten years, that percentage went to almost 50%. Dyes and tints went from a $25 million business to $200 million, and Clariol accounted for half of that amount.

The best a man can get.

Gillette introduced the “The best a man can get” ad campaign during the 1989 Super Bowl for its Sensor razor. The company used most of its $175 million ad campaign budget to promote the Sensor razor. It even had to pull a few ads in 1990 because demand was exceeding the supply of razors.

Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t.

Mounds bars are made by the Hershey’s company and consist of shredded coconut and chocolate. The candy bar’s sister/brother is Almond Joy which has a coconut center and two almonds on top. The 1970s ad campaign and jingle were written by songwriter Leon Carr. The full jingle goes like this: “Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t. Almond Joy has nuts, Mounds don’t.”

The Uncola.

Geoffrey Holder, an actor and dancer, was cast in the 7UP “Uncola” advertisement in the early 1970s. Holder compared cola nuts to “uncola” nuts (which were lemons and limes). At the time, African-Americans were prohibited by 7UP to appear in advertisements. Holder broke racial barriers by being cast in the ad, which became extremely successful for 7UP. Holder continued to be successful, winning two Tony awards as a director and costume designer for “The Wiz.” You might also recognize him as the villain, Baron Samedi, in the 1973 James Bond Film, “Live and Let Die.”

All the news that’s fit to print.

Adolph Ochs acquired the New York Times in 1896 for $75,000. In that same year, he established the tagline of the paper as “All the news that’s fit to print.” He chose the slogan to differentiate his paper from the more sensational papers of the time. In 1898, Ochs cut the cost of the paper to a penny from three cents to increase sales and attract people who would usually buy the sensational papers that cost a penny.

Fly the friendly skies.

United’s “Fly the friendly skies” slogan endured from 1965 until it was retired in 1996. The ad agency, Leo Burnett of Chicago, stayed as United’s ad agency throughout the slogan’s entire run, while other airlines went through several different ad agencies between those years. The slogan was reintroduced again in 2013. The “Fly the friendly skies” catchphrase became the subject of many parodies after a passenger was forcibly removed from one of the airline’s planes in April 2017.

Think small.

Volkswagen created this ad in 1959, and while the company has had other successful ad campaigns, this one was probably its most popular. Volkswagen was trying to get people to choose their Beetle instead of the big cars that were popular at the time. The car ad displayed a small Beetle with a lot of white space around it.

Think different.

Apple created this ad in 1997, even though it wasn’t grammatically correct. The ad didn’t reference a particular product and was instead used as a way for the company to brand its image as something outside the box.