SLOGANS, HOOKS & TAGLINES

Collective Intelligence Quota Conundrum

I worked in marketing, and all of my ilk carry bad attitudes forged by maxims of the past. In 1938, Will Rogers said, “You’ll never go broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people.” It has been said he was paraphrasing H.L. Menken’s statement in the Chicago Tribune, “No one in this world, so far as I know — and I have searched the records for years and employed agents to help me — has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people.” Okay, definitely wordy but it makes the point.

Many want to attribute the Will Rogers quote to the master marketer and showman, P.T. Barnum, but that’s incorrect. P.T. said, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” As time has roared forward, our language has become trimmed and sharpened. We are now in the land of short crisp slogans, hot hooks and repeatable taglines. We are a busy people and we don’t have time to read much more than headlines. The snappier the pitch line, the easier it is to remember and there is nothing better than a quotable line that gets widely parroted. Taglines are not at all bad, but we often put too much stock in them.

“Fifteen minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance” is a great advertising hook even though it’s vague and passive. It uses the word “could,” not the word “will,” so there is no guarantee. If I say, “America Runs on Dunkin” you automatically think about dashing out the door in need of your morning coffee. When you hear the words, “It’s Finger Lickin’ Good” you know it’s KFC, which used to be Kentucky Fried Chicken. I guess they went with the letters because people were turned off by the concept of fried food, or maybe Kentucky.

Donald Trump was a lousy president but a great sloganeer. We remember that Mexico would pay for the wall, but they never did. We remember that everything that made him look bad was the “greatest witch hunt in the history of the world.” But really, Donnie, the actual witch hunt took place in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692-93. Terms like #MeToo and Black Lives Matter forced us to take stands. Are we the problem or the solution?

I loved the phrase Defund the Police, not because I thought it was a good idea but because it got people’s attention. A good slogan makes folks talk about it. H.L. Menken could have said, “We need to consider the ramifications of the budgets and the allocations of those funds so they can be modified in order to facilitate reform, which will make enforced laws appear more responsive to the needs of the community.” Oh, yeah that would have worked. Not.

The far-right radical propagandists have latched onto the phrase Critical Race Theory, and constructed a devious and destructive boogieman around it. Those jerks can’t comprehend that the “theory,” is not a school class or subject, it’s just a hook for academic masturbation. Historical realities exist and cannot be changed. Facts taught in a classroom, even when colored by the opinion of the teacher, inspire students to think. They will look at a picture of Emmitt Till in his open casket or a southern Black man hanging from a tree and then decide whether that is right or wrong. Hopefully, they will be repulsed.

When our former president kept saying the election results will be rigged, his fans could chew and swallow the tagline, Stop the Steal. When people ask if Trump caused an insurrection, all they need to consider is how the results of an election could possibly be STOPPED. Donald John Trump promoted that phrase which triggered the insurrection. He must share blame.

When the phrase Black Lives Matter became popular, some people came up with All Lives Matter as a response. Others supported the police, and their slogan became Blue Lives Matter. If Friedrich Nietzsche were still alive, he would proclaim No Lives Matter. Really, you couldn’t let African Americans have their own slogan for a while? You usurped their tagline so quickly, thereby proving you have no respect for them or what they wanted to convey. The slogan All Lives Matter is a great example of white privilege revoking Black power.

The conundrum here is the lack of awareness of words and the implication of those terms and comments. It’s like the old expression “Some of my best friends are Black.” Why would anyone say that? The only reason would be an insecurity of being white while others are judging you. If you tell an N-joke, you need to understand that you are at least a little bit racist. And if you cannot grasp that, then just come up with a statement to divert attention from who and what you truly are.

Trump used to always say, “I am the least racist person you will ever meet.” Oh really? The statement is too long to be an effective slogan. Furthermore, it’s unbelievable, has no “hook” and prompts the question “Where’s the beef?” When one constantly defends oneself by saying they aren’t what people say and think they are, then they must provide some evidence. The Trump administration had very few people of color in top positions. Maybe they just couldn’t find any smart Black people beyond Ben Carson, and the jury is still out on whether he knew anything beyond brain surgery.

Some slogans and taglines are intended to generate talk about the subject or person. Howard Stern has called himself the King of all Media for years. It’s not an actual title, but that doesn’t matter. It’s like Donald Trump saying he is a very stable genius. An I.Q. test can determine if one has a high-level quotient for learning, remembering and applying intelligence, but problem solving is a gift that some people with lower I.Q.s can more effectively use as compared to over-analytical thinkers. If Donald Trump was a true genius, why would he have suffered so many business failures and bankruptcies? Could it be that he was so damn smart he just couldn’t figure out solutions to his challenges?

The Big Lie is a slogan that the media, Democrats and left-wingers have applied to Trump’s Election Rejection Deception. O.M.G. I just created a slogan for Trump’s post-election behavior. 82 million of us Americans rejected him, and then he fired up the deception burners. The problem is our democracy is being singed by his lies and harangues and we must put out the fire right now. Donald Trump should be banned from politics.

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