All the best strap lines contain truth telling

Not me claiming this but Rory Sutherland who was speaking at the Economist Summit in early March (The Big Rethink), after Jonathan Salem Baskin and I presented on our new book Tell the Truth ( Sutherland explained that we discount extravagant claims for good evolutionary reasons.  We like trade-offs, they make sense to us.  We’re more likely to believe the upside of something if we understand the downside.

Chip and Dan Heath describe two basic models of decision making – the consequences model or the identity model.

In advertising terms the identity model is an often used one.  It trades off the identity we think we might assume if we acquired the product advertised and explains the success of celebrity advertising.

In the consequences model we weigh up the costs and benefits of the options and make the choice that maximises satisfaction.  In this sense the strap line that presents both upside and downside in a snapshot is a great selling tool.

Sutherland cited three examples off the cuff of this kind of truth telling contained in a slogan.  Stella Artois’s “Reassuringly expensive”, Cream Cakes’ “Naughty but nice” and “No-one likes us we don’t care” from Millwall FC.

Off the top of my head I can come up with a couple more “We try harder”, “You don’t have to be Jewish to love Levy’s” and “Maybe she’s born with it, maybe its Maybelline”.

Great slogans are rare, but they tend to stick with us.  Maybe they are just great writing, maybe because they contain a truth that can’t be denied.

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