Paul Revere: Patriot, rebel rouser, slogan writer

As we come up upon the Fourth of July, one begins to see and hear the lore that surrounds the anniversary of our country’s independence – and the one event that stands out in my mind is the night ride of Paul Revere.

Now, you might ask, “What does that have to do with advertising?” but think about it – he came up with a catch phrase that virtually everyone has heard, but more importantly, remembered for over 200 years.

“The British are coming” is probably the best tagline/headline/catch phrase of all-time. And I started thinking about Mr. Revere, brainstorming on what he was going to say as he rode through the countryside warning of the impending invasion. I mean, coming up with a memorable tagline just doesn’t happen – here’s a list of taglines he probably came up with before he came up with the winner.

  • “The guys in the red coats are coming!” (Could be confused with Santa Claus)
  • “Wake up you sleepy heads, the bad guys are coming!” (Pretty vague, no sizzle)
  • “You know that invading force you were told were coming, yeh, they’re on their way right now.” (A little rambling, right?)

Taglines today have to be more than they’ve ever been before. They’re not just descriptive labels but slogans that you want your customers to repeat, over and over again (“Where’s the beef?” comes to mind).

Here’s a good guideline for creating your own, “The British are coming!”

 Keep it short. (“Got Milk?”, “Just do it.”)

Make it memorable. (“M’m M’m good!”)

Highlight a benefit. (“The ultimate driving machine.”)

Offer Confidence. (“You’re in good hands with Allstate.”)

Most of all, write a tagline that you can own, that reflects your brand, and means something to the consumer – just like Paul Revere did.

Posted on July 3, 2012 in Ideas

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