8 Of The Most Successful Ad Campaigns Of All Time

By Janet Fowler | November 07, 2011 AAA

The catchiest slogans have a way of sticking in your mind, or perhaps even challenging the way you view the product being advertised. This is certainly the ultimate goal of marketers when they develop their advertising campaigns. Not all campaigns are created equal, but the best of the best illustrate how these slogans are an integral part of brand recognition. (For more on advertising, read Advertising, Crocodiles And Moats.)
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Just Do It
Nike adopted this slogan in 1988 while in the midst of financial difficulties. The slogan is now grilled into the minds of consumers who associate this simple saying with the brand's athletic gear. Perhaps the perfect slogan for a company selling athletic clothing and merchandise, "Just Do It" inspires a feeling of competition and encouragement to try harder, or perform better. The success of this bold slogan is regarded as a large part of Nike's huge successes in the years since launching it.

Think Small
Volkswagen has produced what seems like an infinite number of clever advertising slogans and campaigns over the years, but perhaps the most highly regarded of them was their 1959 slogan, "Think Small." Volkswagen was trying to sell their small Beetle in a time when big cars were the norm. They chose to play up the benefits of driving a small car by creating advertisements that included a small image of the car with a lot of whitespace around it. The major goal of this slogan was to shift the consumer's perspective of small cars, thus turning the smallness of their vehicle into a strength instead of a weakness. Volkswagen's clever slogans continue today, with more recent slogans including "Drivers Wanted" and "Das Auto."

Have You Had Your Break Today?
McDonald's is another company that has come up with a phenomenal number of catchy slogans over the years. In 1995, McDonald's asked consumers a simple question in their advertisements: "Have You Had Your Break Today?" This catchy slogan provided a revamp to the successful 1980 slogan, "You Deserve a Break Today." Other popular slogans that McDonald's has used over the years include, "Do You Believe in Magic" from 1993, "What You Want is What You Get" in 1992 and "It's Mac Tonight" from 1985. In 2003, McDonald's rolled out their current slogan, "I'm Lovin' It" that featured a song by Justin Timberlake, in an attempt to use his star power to get customers into their restaurants.

A Diamond Is Forever
This simple slogan was launched back in 1947, and is still in use today. The De Beers Diamond Company has used this unforgettable slogan in what is definitely one of the longest-running campaigns of all time. De Beers has relied on its simple black-and-white advertisements that convey a feeling of timelessness in selling their pricey diamonds. Perhaps the 1971 James Bond movie "Diamonds Are Forever" helped to secure this slogan as well. (To learn more about diamonds, check out Diamonds: The Missing Commodity Derivative.)

Gimme a Break
This catchy slogan was part of an even catchier song that seemed to stick in everyone's mind. It was 1986 when Kit Kat launched this phrase, which was a variation of their 1957 slogan "Have a Break … Have a Kit Kat." The television commercials that featured the "Gimme a Break" song included images of workplaces breaking into song while breaking off pieces of Kit Kat bars.

Think Different
Though this advertising slogan may have been criticized for being grammatically incorrect, it's undeniable that it stuck in the minds of consumers. Apple launched this slogan in 1997, with a mix of print ads and commercials. This motto asked consumers to be rebellious, and to push boundaries in order to achieve greatness. Many of the advertisements in this campaign made no actual reference to Apple's products, but simply made an attempt to create a brand image for the company.

Got Milk?
This long-running slogan was first launched in 1993 to encourage consumers to drink more milk. Many of the ads that use this slogan feature celebrities with milk mustaches, or individuals trying to swallow sticky food items that are in need of a refreshing drink to wash it down. This ad has been hugely successful. According to Gotmilk.com, "Got Milk?" is recognized by 90% of Americans, and continues to be used by the dairy board across the country.

Don't Leave Home Without It
It was 1975 when American Express first advised to consumers that they shouldn't leave home without their AMEX card. These slogans attempted to establish American Express as the top provider of traveler's checks and cards that could be used in every-day life. American Express also used celebrity endorsements to help cement this phrase into the minds of consumers. The first commercials featured Academy Award winner Karl Malden. Other celebrities that provided endorsements, over the years, included Stephen King and Jerry Seinfeld.

The Bottom Line
It's the ultimate goal of advertisers to secure a place in the consumer psyche. The most successful advertising campaigns have a way of lodging themselves in the minds of consumers, so that their catchy slogans are forever tied to the products being sold. Companies are competing for your dollars, and every advertisement is an attempt to get consumers to take notice. Whether it's through a short-and-sweet phrase that logically fits with the product, a clever celebrity endorsement or an outlandish statement that makes consumers take a second look, this is never an easy task for advertisers – especially in a competitive marketplace that offers such variety. (To help you market your small business like these companies, see 7 Popular Marketing Techniques For Small Businesses.)

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