Mumbai: An advertisement’s tag line is the sign-off line of an ad and the fundamental proposition of the brand. While good tag lines, also called baselines, must carry an association with the brand, many tag lines are increasingly either at odds with a brand’s positioning or else outdated and not in sync with the company’s vision for the brand or market realities.
This could result in advertising that doesn’t really deliver bang for the buck—a vital need in these tumultuous times— and is often in dissonance with the brand image.
Telecom company Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd, or BSNL’s, tag line “Best hain mere liye” (It’s the best for me) is pedestrian and does not reflect the company’s superior coverage, especially in interior (rural or semi-urban) India, says Anil Nair, president at Mumbai-based agency Law and Kenneth India. “Ideally, BSNL’s positioning and ad line should be something like British Telecom because its service is vast and far superior to some private players. But it continues to stick to its street-fighter image.”
Branded for life? While Nike’s ‘Just do it’ ad line has stood the test of time, brands such as Kurkure seem to have missed the mark.
In Nair’s view, brand Videocon’s tag line—“The Indian multinational”—which was in use till recently, is outdated since those times are long gone when being a multinational signalled a competitive advantage. His reasoning: “Indian brands going out and establishing themselves in other markets was a big story in the late 1980s when we were in competition with the Korean and Japanese firms. Today, companies (conglomerates) such as Tata group are actually buying up companies...’’
Videocon came up with a new line a few months back: “New improved life”.
Pranesh Misra, founder, Brandscapes Worldwide Consultancy, says ad lines are not adequately researched these days. “(Take) Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd’s ad line ‘Energizing life’—what relation does it have with what the company is actually doing in the market?” asks Misra. Similarly, LG Electronics’ ad line “Life is good” just reflects the line of business that the company operates in (lifestyle), and not much else, he adds.
While tag lines should reflect a brand’s unique promise, they rarely do and are at times also similar to other brands’ sign-offs.
Nabankur Gupta, chairman of brand consultancy, Blue Ocean Capital and Advisory Services, says Pizza Hut’s “Stories happen” is clichéd and reminds him of Café Coffee Day’s line “A lot can happen over coffee”. Besides, most people are busy ordering food in Pizza Hut, and it’s rather noisy for stories to actually happen there, he says.
Lehar Kurkure’s “Tedha hai par mera hai” (It’s twisted, but it’s mine) is just a meaningless phrase that says nothing about the quality of the product. Similarly, Cornetto Walls’ base line, “Dil ka connection” (A connection to the heart) is something you would never associate with ice cream, while Hero Honda’s ad line “Always game” has more to do with being macho than the bike or its features, adds Gupta.
Interestingly, experts say that many of the celebrities used in ads do not necessarily lend themselves to the brand’s personality or its ad line. Hewlett-Packard’s ad with the tag line “What do you have to say” has Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan as the brand endorser. The brand tries to convey that stars don’t stop at one thing, they excel at many. Hence the ad shows Khan with a steel helmet and a violin, but the line doesn’t mesh with this, says Gupta, adding that an exception is the “Wah Taj” ad with tabla maestro Zakir Hussain, where the ad line blended the excellence of tea with the excellence of music.
There is also much debate whether a change in tag lines is wise. Ad lines for iconic brands such as BMW’s “The ultimate driving machine” and Nike’s “Just do it” have obviously worked and continue to be leveraged across markets for several years.
In contrast, the top 10 global brands such as Intel, GE or Coke don’t have a global ad line and do some tactical stuff locally. “And then, there’s a whole third rung of brands that change their ad lines continuously, which sends out a bad sign in the market,” says Ramesh Thomas, president, Equitor Management Consulting (Pvt.) Ltd. “Since the ad line is the fundamental proposition of the brand, the third rung brands appear like not-so-steady business propositions.” M.G. Parameswaran, executive director and CEO, Draftfcb+Ulka, however, says that while some classic tail-enders such as Amul’s “Taste of India” can stand the test of time, others may need to change to reflect new market realities.
Manish Bhatt, vice-president and executive creative director, Contract Advertising India Pvt. Ltd, says there’s also confusion between general ad copy and the tag line since too many lines are spouted during a spot.
“For instance, some consumers may think that HappyDent White’s baseline is “Mera dil roshan, mera mann roshan” (My heart is bright, my mind is bright) but that’s actually the jingle which runs through the commercial.”