10 Ad Slogans That Became Popular Catchphrases

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Advertising executives have so many ways to measure the success of an advertising campaign today, from sales figures to Google Analytics to social media shares. Back in the day, you knew your ad campaign had made it when it sparked a catchphrase everyone knew. Here are a few classic ad slogans that became popular catchphrases, some of which are still familiar today.


10. ‘Got milk?’

It’s such a simple slogan, yet it’s been mimicked and parodied everywhere. Even when someone changes the wording, (ie. “Got beer?”) most people still understand the reference to the original milk campaign. According to the New York Times, the advertising agency that created the slogan in 1993, Goodby Silverstein & Partners, almost killed it, thinking “it was lazy, not to mention grammatically incorrect.”


9. Where’s the beef!

That’s 81-year-old Clara Peller uttering one of the most famous catchphrases of the 1980s. The ad campaign helped cement Wendy’s as a major player in the fast food industry.


8. Whasssup?

Anheuser-Busch only ran this campaign from 1999 to 2002, but you’ll still hear wise guys using the exaggerated whasssup? expression today.


7. ‘They’re grrreat!’

For more than five decades, a singer named Thurl Ravenscroft voiced Tony the Tiger’s enthusiastic love for Kellogg’s Sugar Frosted Flakes. If the voice sounds familiar, he also sang the song You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch, in the 1966 holiday classic.


6. ‘It takes a licking and keeps on ticking’

This famous slogan introduced by Timex in the 1950s is still used by some to describe anything that is seemingly indestructible.


5. ‘When you’ve got it, flaunt it’

This slogan certainly sounds as if it should have emerged in the 1980s Wall Street era of excess, but it actually dates to 1968. That’s a Braniff Airlines commercial featuring retired Yankee great Whitey Ford and colorful artist Salvador Dali. There is some debate that the phrase originated in the 1968 Mel Brooks movie, The Producers, but the ad campaign was apparently written the previous year.


4. ‘Be all that you can be’

Message: Challenge yourself. The U.S. Army used it in recruiting campaigns from 1980 through 2001,


3. ‘Finger-lickin’ good’

Kentucky Fried Chicken franchises began using this slogan in the mid-1950s. As the story goes, a TV viewer saw someone in a KFC commercial licking their fingers and called to complain. A company executive famously explained, “Well, it’s finger-lickin’ good.” Even though the trademark expired in 2006, the company continued using the tagline until 2011.


2. ‘Just do it’

Nike has been using this trademarked slogan since 1988, and it helped build the brand into a dominant player in sports apparel. While it’s become a well-known motivational slogan, “Just Do It” has a bizarre origin. The ad person who coined the term, Dan Wieden, said he was inspired by convicted killer Gary Gilmore’s final words before his 1977 execution.


1. ‘Breakfast of champions’

This is the granddaddy of all advertising slogans. General Mills introduced it in the 1920s for its Wheaties brand, and it first appeared on a sign at a minor-league baseball park in Minneapolis. The slogan quickly became associated with sports, a tie reinforced for decades with the appearance of famous athletes on Wheaties boxes. And the phrase lives on in pop culture, uttered by anyone who’s ever been spotted eating a bag of doughnuts or other unhealthy foods for breakfast.

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