Nov 25

Do Nothing Before You Read This Tagline Blog

If this was your company’s tagline, I'd like to speak with you.

When you have kids, you end up watching a lot of  kids’ television and the myriad advertisements that come with it. There’s a particular commercial I see a lot, and it has a particular tagline that I just can’t stand.  

It’s a brand I’ve loved since I was a kid so I have mixed feelings about calling them out like this. And, to be fair, the company has done a brilliant job in the creation of multiple line extensions from its original product.  

The tagline that I hate is at the end of Nerf’s gun commercials.  Yes, Nerf… the guys who gave us that squeezably soft, foamy stuff that doesn’t hurt when thrown hard at our faces.  Or when shot at us in pellet form at 70 mph.

Love their product. The production value and execution of their TV spots is quite good as well.  But that tagline!

Really?  The tagline makes that much difference?

Yes, it does.  The tagline should encapsulate the essence of your brand; it’s your reason to be.  It‘s the last words in your commercial... the last thing the audience will think about you...the thought you’re leaving them with.  Better to leave it off, then do what Nerf’s done.

At the end of its TV spots, the Nerf announcer says something like: “The Nerf N-Strike Vulcan EBF-25.” Then some kid screams at me, “It’s Nerf or nothing.”

Let’s try this idea out on some other businesses:

1. Sandy’s Pet Emporium

It’s Sandy’s pets, or no pets at all.

2. D.J.'s Hair Boutique

It’s D.J.’s cuts, or nobody’s.

3. Wichman’s Flowers

If those aren’t Wichman’s, they’re worthless.

advertisement tagline

The PHILOSOPHY BEHIND A GREAT TAGLINE

All or nothing statements like these make it way too easy for me to say, “Okay, it’s nothing, then.”  ‘Cause, frankly Nerf, I don’t like your attitude!  You’re trying to limit my choices!  And you should know by now...you never limit an American’s choices.

Besides its arrogant and obnoxious qualities, can you see anything else wrong with, “It’s Nerf or nothing?”  Anyone?  Yes! You, Sir…in the back...go ahead, please.

GUY (in back):  Well, it’s not true.  Because…see…Hasbro has a cool soft-pellet gun that works just as well...so does Tek 4 Kids, Buzz Bee and Zuru.

The guy in the back is right!  “It’s Nerf or Nothing” doesn’t tell me WHY it’s superior...the spots don’t compare it to other soft-pellet guns.  So, what are you saying then, Nerf?  That I should not buy the competitions’ guns?

But mainly, the problem with “It’s Nerf or nothing is this: it tells me nothing. If a tagline doesn’t help me to understand more about the product or service that it represents, nor broadens my experience of what the product or service has to offer me in some way, it’s a waste of breath.

Threatening the viewer not to try the competition is not motivating. 

At least not to an adult.  Apparently, it works with kids because Nerf guns are everywhere.  Or maybe not.  Maybe the kids want the guns in spite of the envious tagline...because “Nerf’s what Jimmy’s got down the street.”  Hey, even that would be a better tagline.

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