If you’re trying to sell a product, it’s smart to give it a snappy slogan or motto, one that helps identify the product while also telling potential customers why they should buy it. When it works, it works very well, but when it fails, it fails miserably. These slogans for food and drink brands unfortunately fall into the latter category.
In April 2015, Bud Light introduced a new slogan to correspond with a huge advertising push: “Up for whatever.” Tied together with the tagline “The perfect beer for removing ‘no’ from your vocabulary for the night,” it came across as incredibly tone deaf in a culture becoming more and more aware of the issue of sexual harassment on college campuses. Wrong slogan, wrong time.
Burger King was on to something good with their long-running slogan “Have it your way,” which emphasized the ability to customize your burgers. They inexplicably ditched it in May 2014, however, and replaced it with “Be your way,” which is essentially meaningless and has nothing whatsoever to do with Burger King or its food. “Self-expression is most important and it’s our differences that make us individuals instead of robots,” a spokesperson told The Associated Press in an attempt to explain it. Yeah, still not following.
Maxwell House’s slogan, “Good to the last drop,” is one of the most famous in history, and has been tied to the brand since 1917 (a most-likely apocryphal tale states that Teddy Roosevelt uttered the line after drinking a cup of the stuff in 1907). While there’s no reason to mess with a good thing, the company has done so a handful of times in recent years: in the 1990s, they tried to change their slogan to “Better beans make better coffee,” and in 2010, it became “Good just got great.” The new mottos flopped both times, and it was quickly changed back.
McDonald’s was all ready to roll out a brand-new slogan in early 2015, one that supposedly would represent an effort to “spread happiness in the face of internet hate”: “Lovin’ beats hatin’,” a play on their popular “I’m lovin’ it.” Once word leaked, however, the slogan became a laughingstock, and the troubled brand quickly backtracked, never actually rolling it out. Talk about a non-starter!
Pepsi unveiled their “Live For Now” campaign in 2012 with a huge marketing push, but it failed to capture the zeitgeist. Not only does it say nothing about the brand, it also sounds like they’re implying that we shouldn’t care if Pepsi is unhealthy and drink it anyway. Environmental groups concerned about the company’s use of unsustainable palm oil suggested that the brand “could care less about tomorrow.”
The National Pork Board
Quick: What’s pork’s slogan? “The other white meat,” right? Wrong. Since 2011, the National Pork Board’s official slogan has been “Be Inspired,” which you’ll find in their commercials and advertisements. Er, inspired to do what? Not working very well, is it?
Amid a racially charged climate earlier this year, Starbucks decided to unveil a new initiative called “Race Together.” In it, Starbucks employees would write the phrase on customers’ cups in an effort “to do something tangible to encourage greater understanding, empathy, and compassion toward one another.” But customers had no interest in spending their time in Starbucks discussing race, and many people agreed that it was unfair to put employees in that position. The initiative was discontinued within a week of its launch after major criticism.
Taco Bell has had some pretty good slogans over the years — “¡Yo Quiero Taco Bell!,” and “Think outside the bun,” for example. But since 2011, their slogan has been “Live Más,” Spanish for “live more,” which is essentially meaningless. It certainly has nothing to do with selling tacos. It’s not unique or inspired, and it’s essentially a command, which is a slogan no-no.
In 1984, Wendy’s struck gold with their “Where’s the beef?” campaign and motto, and were looking to follow its success with another equally striking and memorable slogan. They settled on “Give a little nibble,” with commercials showing people breaking off and eating chunks from a gigantic hamburger. (You can find the somewhat disturbing video here.) It was a massive flop, and was pulled after just seven weeks. The embarrassment was quickly swept under the rug.