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Tag! You May Be It
By: Brian Keller
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We love taglines. We know that tremendous effort goes into creating these short, masterful summations of a company’s brand. We know that the tagline, no matter how good, can backfire just a bit:
  1. I called Cisco Systems (Together we are the human network). I got an automated response.
  2. American Airlines (We know why you fly). On April 4, 2012, American Airlines canceled 500 arrivals and departures at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and hundreds more throughout the country.
We know that some taglines are forgettable. Combine forgettable taglines with flimsy executions and everything is forgettable.
  1. I went to Burger King (Exciting things are happening at Burger King). I didn’t see Salma Hayek or Steven Tyler or David Beckham or Jay Leno. I forgot why I was there and that the exciting things were/are the new menu items.
I forget if the tagline is still “Exciting things are happening at Burger King.”
 
Then, you have Ford (Go Further). Ford has two of the top ten most fuel-efficient cars of 2012 and there are plenty more tags that work and will continue to work despite the occasional glitch.   
 
And AT&T is so "rethinking possible" that one can have AT&T and not even know.

For example:
 
I got a phone call. On the line was a pleasant AT&T rep that wanted $14.14 cents that was overdue on the account I didn’t have. I thought, “That's cool, I want AT&T. I wouldn’t mind rethinking possible.” It seems that possible was rethought, as AT&T had read my mind and given me “the network of possibilities” and an overdue account.

I figured I shouldn't have a bill from AT&T because I didn’t have AT&T. I told AT&T, ”I don't have AT&T and probably shouldn't pay the $14.14 because I don't have AT&T, but I would like to rethink possible.” I thought that was my best possible answer.

The AT&T rep asked for my customer ID, which appears on my bill above my number. I said, “I don't have a customer ID. I'm not a customer and I don't have a bill. I want to be a customer but I'm not one now.” He told me he wanted to make me a satisfied customer. I said, “What can I do to be a satisfied customer when I'm not even a customer?” He said that all I had to do was give him my customer ID number, located on the upper right-hand side of my bill and pay the $14.14. I said, “I don't have a bill or a customer ID number. One day I hope to have one, but for now I can’t pay the $14.14 cents I don't owe because I don't have AT&T.”

I got a supervisor who asked me for my phone number. I gave it to him. He then asked for my customer ID number, located on the upper right-hand side of my bill. I said,” Great, but I don't have a bill or an ID number. I'm not a customer.” He was in touch. He then asked me how could he make me a satisfied customer. I said, “Could you have Christo come over and wrap my house?” He asked, “Who is Christo?” I said, “He’s an artist. He's not associated with AT&T. His wife is dead and your earlier “Rethink Possible” commercials imitated some work they did together. The reference is just my hip advertising in-the-know humor.”

The supervisor asked me if Christo would want something in lieu of flowers and I could find my customer ID on the upper right-hand side of my bill. I told him, “Christo would be happy with a card.” And, to make the supervisor happy, I would look for my customer ID number on the bill I didn't have. He said that a card was doable and he would hold. I looked for the bill I didn't have. He hung on. I told him that I couldn't find my customer ID as ”I'm not a customer and don’t have a bill.” He told me my ID was on the upper right-hand side of my bill. I thanked him, as I had already forgotten where the customer ID I didn't have was located and I would look for it again and would call back when I couldn't find the bill I didn't have because I'm not a customer. He thought that was reasonable and reminded me that the customer ID number is on the upper right-hand side of my bill.

*****
 
We know AT&T strives for greatness. We know that planes get grounded for good reasons and we know that fast food should just stick to the staples.

We also found that Cisco answered, with a human voice, in a reasonable time. We know that most auto manufacturers are trying to create more efficient vehicles.
 
We know ad agencies should continue to sum it up in a line or two and keep rethinking possible.


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About the Author
Brian Keller is the Creative Director at teeny agency in Baltimore. He graduated from the University of Maryland (English), went to grad school at NYU (Cinema Studies), & attends University of Baltimore School of Law.

Brian's been working primarily in the digital space for years but enjoys all communications avenues.

He has built the creative departments at two agencies.

He likes skateboarding with his son. He also falls off his skateboard and amuses his son. When not amusing his son or riding bikes or playing basketball or working he writes for Beyond Madison Avenue & that's why Beyond Madison Avenue appears twice in this sentence.

Find him online here and at www.teenyagency.com.
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