Tuesday, May 13, 2008

More Than Words

The advertising slogan. The main purpose of the slogan is, or should be, to create recognition and recall and therefore to project the product or service firmly to the front of mind of the consumer. "Buy one, get one free!" is not a slogan, it is a sales pitch. "Naughty but nice" is a slogan (and extra points today if anyone knows who coined the slogan). The slogan, be it enigmatic or blatant, has to have the force of the advertising and marketing that supports it; it also has to be strong enough to command that recall and to reinforce the branding of which the slogan is one aspect and sometimes the defining aspect. Some slogans work on the basis of a form of reverse psychology. This blog has one - "don't tell anyone about it!" The thinking is that it both strengthens a degree of personal ownership within a kind of abstract exclusive club of "blogotees" and also makes the reader do precisely the opposite. At least that's the theory and, take my word for it, I can theorise about marketing till Hell freezes over. But, you'll be pleased to know, I won't; well not much.

The reverse psychology, because it causes the reader to pause and think, is, in many ways, a more powerful prompt than the less demanding of slogan, always assuming that the consumer "gets it". The reverse hypothesis operates on the principle that the consumer does not interpret the message at face value.

One of the most famous advertising disasters was the "you're never alone with a Strand" cigarette slogan captured in an advert with a man alone on a street. What it hoped to say was either that by puffing away on this particular fag you would be everyone's mate (this was in the days when smoking was a more or less de rigueur social habit) or that you could indeed be alone but the Strand would keep you company. Either way, it was not taken as the advertisers (Wills in this case) would have hoped, as the consumer perceived it to mean simply that the smoker in the ad was a lonely git. Despite its popularity as a piece of advertising cinema, the ad was swiftly axed. No reverse occurred; it was taken as was - for Strand read loneliness, which was a negative and therefore incompatible with creating a positive brand image. The theory of the slogan and the advertising that accompanies it are nought without the knowledge of the practice of the consumer's thought process.

This is all by way of introduction to the fact that the keepers of the marketing of Mallorca at the tourism council have come up with a dynamic new slogan of their own - indeed one main slogan with three variants. This is: "much more than ...". The blankety-blank cheque book and pen goes to those who can append the words - "golf", "meetings" and "good food", for these make up the three differing sloganettes. The "more than" tag is hardly original, while the addition of "much" hints at a certain desperation. But the slogan, any of the three, has a certain reverse psychology appeal in a sense, in that - at least I guess this is the thinking - it makes the consumer say to him or herself, oh I didn't know there was golf/meetings/good food in Mallorca (delete as applicable). The problem is that the same consumer may just take the slogan at face value and ask: "what much more?" And herein does indeed lie a problem as there isn't much more if indeed any more. Alternatively, the consumer may ask: "Why are they saying 'more than golf'? Don't they mean that golf is more than just the beach?"

What they want to get across is that Mallorca has much more than just sun and beach to offer. Hard though I am trying to accept the logic of a slogan that is essentially illogical, I'm afraid I cannot; in short, it's not very good. Moreover, the slogan comes back to the basic misapprehension that seems to exist in the Mallorcan marketing mindset, i.e. that there is a lot of mileage in tourism diversification as typified by golf, meetings (and conferences) and gastronomy. It also comes back to another misapprehension that by failing to play on Mallorca's greatest assets - the sun and the beach - it fails to build on that very core image. A slogan that went "much more than sun and beach" might well be crap but it would both acknowledge the central brand image of Mallorca while, at the same time, seeking to establish that tourism diversification with which they feel they can attract great hordes of new-style tourists. But the chosen slogan attempts cutesy cleverness and could be said to be confusing. It seeks to jolt with a type of stylistic joke. However, as my hypothetical consumer might ask: "Have they got this right? Shouldn't it be more than sun?" Indeed when I first read about this slogan (in "The Bulletin") I did myself wonder if there was a mistake, so I looked it up on the Internet and discovered that it was correct.

There is, however, another potential angle to this slogan, one that is largely irrelevant to an overseas audience but may well be resonant with a Spanish one, and a Catalan one in particular. This is that Barcelona Football Club has long had the Catalan slogan "més que un club" (more than a club). As I alluded to yesterday, Barca and the team's following go well beyond that part of Catalonia. The slogan will be known to many; it was adopted in the latter years of Franco to emphasise the club's centrality to Catalonian autonomy (as it still does). The Mallorcan slogan may well be purely coincidental; as I say, the words "more than" are common enough in advertising (and, I daresay, so are their equivalents in Spanish or Catalan advertising). But the Barca slogan has a power and a directness; the Mallorca one has neither.

Yesterday's chain - the connection was Rat Scabies, the drummer. Among The Damned's numbers was Captain Sensible. So what's his connection with Rodgers and Hammerstein? Yesterday's title - Robin Hall and Jimmy McGregor. Today's title? American. Lots of hair.


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