Slogans

Slogan World Cup 2018

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It's nearly World Cup time again and Fifa/Hyundai have announced the winners of their Be There With Hyundai competition to come up with national slogans to appear on each team bus. 

Four years ago, I ranked all the slogans, with a clear winner emerging. Ivory Coast's Elephants Charging Towards Brazil! set a new benchmark for slogans generally – only four words, but somehow combining the national animal (elephants) with the host country (Brazil), linked by an exciting verb (charging), and all adding up to one epic visual image. It's an outstanding slogan.

Let's see how this year's match up. (The names in brackets are the members of the public who contributed each slogan.)

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This isn't pitched right for Argentina. For most teams, winning the World Cup is a dream. But Argentina have won it twice before and reached the final last time. Germany would never talk about winning as a 'dream'. Not terrible, but not great. 3/10

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This is a step backwards from 2014's 'Socceroos: Hopping Our Way Into History'. That was nice. This one feels like it needs an editor – 'brave' and 'bold' are almost exact synonyms, and the rhythm is compromised in order to accommodate 'Socceroos', which in any case is a slightly shit nickname for a team. That said, I can hear this being chanted aloud. 5/10

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Belgium have learned from 2014's disastrous 'Expect the impossible'. This is stronger – yes, 'red devils' is a bit Man Utd. But it ties in with the team crest and sounds exciting. I'd like to see it paired with something more vivid and visual than the abstract 'on a mission'. But this is decent sloganeering. 7/10

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Let's take a moment to laugh one last time at Brazil's 2014 slogan 'Brace Yourselves! The 6th is coming!' – which was briefly and gloriously appropriate when they went 5-0 down to Germany and ended up losing 7-1. This one has unfortunately slipped into the default numerology approach that blights so many slogans. 4/10

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More sloganeering-by-numbers. There's a widespread belief that slogans are some kind of auditing system to count every object in the world. 2/10

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The denial of impossibility is another recurring slogan trope. (See also Senegal.) This is long and generic. 3/10

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Decent, workmanlike slogan. But it doesn't really zero in on Croatia's main point of difference – there are much smaller nations in the World Cup. Croatia's national flag contains a chessboard – I think this would be a fertile area for sloganeering. 6/10

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I should point out that I am the mug in this whole slogan-reviewing scenario. All the winning entrants got free tickets to the World Cup, so good for them. That said, this is a massively boring slogan. 2/10

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I'm going to assume this sounds better in the original Egyptian. It's pretty strong even in translation – I agree that Pharaohs is a cool word. 8/10

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What do you reckon? It definitely has strengths – three words, a strong imperative voice, rooted in the national anthem, positive sporting sentiment. I just can't shake the feeling that it's a bit school-swot-handing-in-his-homework-two-days-early. I want slogans to be more fun. 8/10

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I know I'm the only person in the world who will notice this, but this is the same as France's Euro 2016 slogan (also from a Hyundai-sponsored competition). And it was rubbish then too. 0/10

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No dreaming for Germany, just a confident plan to go out and win it again. I assume the full stop after 'Zusammen' gives it more impact. But it doesn't disguise the fact that this is a generic, off-the-shelf slogan. 2/10

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The thing is, the dream has already come true – Iceland are in the World Cup for the first time! If you're going to talk about dreams, it should be about living the dream. But also, you're Iceland – home of ancient gods, elves, trolls and sea monsters! You've got to get those into your slogan. You had a massive shot at beating Elephants Charging Towards Brazil. 1/10

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1/10

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2014 was 'Samurai, the time has come to fight!' This adds an extra dimension of colour, but that's about it. Exciting, but could push it further. 7/10.

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2014 was the heartbreaking 'Enjoy it Reds!'. This is stronger and wisely brings in the national animal. I'm going to assume it sounds good in the original Korean and go with a generous 8/10

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I bet lots of people entered 'We're not paying for the wall!' and Fifa/Hyundai filtered them out. This is the problem with this competition – there are probably lots of exciting entries and the organisers go for the safe ones. Like this. 3/10

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This is good – Atlas Lions sounds exciting. Is 'pride' a pun in the original language, or just a nice coincidence? Either way, I think this needs a verb. You really need a verb in a good sports slogan. 8/10

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Or do you? This one has no verb, but it's pretty poetic and epic in scale. I assume it's a reference to the eagle, national bird of Nigeria. Good effort. 7.5/10

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And another verbless one – but then you get a lot of energy and suggestion of motion in the word 'force'. Rooted in a national point of difference, the two oceans. Strong. 8.5/10

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Slogans generally shouldn't have two full sentences. This is like a Medium post. 2/10

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You've got to hand it to whoever entered this and got two free tickets to the World Cup. Well played. 0/10

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What is it with Portugal? In 2014, they had 'The past is history, the future is victory'. It's like a Twitter thread of slogans, or some kind of continual work in progress. Well done on making it rhyme, but it needs to make sense as well. 4/10

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If you read this as an official, Putin-endorsed slogan, then it's a laughable piece of misdirection. But if you read it as the players and fans subtly getting the idea of openness into their slogan, then it's worth supporting. I'll go with the latter. 7/10

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Yes, go on... go on... Desert Knights... doing... something? Could they be charging? Could they be charging in a particular direction? Come on Saudi Arabia, finish your slogan!!!! 7/10

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Here we go, the denial-of-impossibility approach. For the record, France's 2014 slogan was 'Impossible N’est Pas Francais' – so again, well done to wahab94 for getting away with this. Also, 'impossible' is definitely a French / Senegalese word. 1/10

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I'm never buying a Hyundai car. 1/10

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In the word cloud of all sporting slogans, the word 'together' probably looms largest. 2/10

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See what I mean? 2/10

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I assume this will appear on the bus in all four of those languages (which don't include English). It's tricky for Switzerland as you have to cram four versions of your slogan onto a bus. Maybe they should go with an emoji next time. 3/10

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Hard to judge without knowing the original language, but this feels like two slogans joined together. I'd strip it back to 'Russia, here come the eagles!' – I like the implied threat in addressing Russia directly. That would get an 8.5/10, but unfortunately they've overwritten it. 7/10

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There's a nice thought in here – the idea of turning grey old Russia (national stereotype trigger alert) into the sunny blue of Uruguay (a nod to the national colour and sun symbol on the flag). Just feels a bit baggy at the moment. 8/10

All in all, this is a decent tournament and a step in the right direction – we have devils, pharaohs, samurai, tigers, lions, eagles, oceans and desert knights. Nothing quite scales the heights of Elephants Charging Towards Brazil, but that is a big ask. I'd say Panama just about edge it with the force of their two oceans, but Egypt had a good crack, and England were in the latter stages.

If someone at Fifa/Hyundai is reading this, I know you have to keep things non-controversial, but can we keep cranking up the excitement and epic animal battles, and definitely scale back the numerology and togetherness next time? Also, do you have any more tickets? And is there time to add a few more words onto Saudi Arabia's bus?

World Cup 2014 slogans review

Euro 2016 slogans review

An emergency guide to writing protest signs

With protest somewhat in the air at the moment, I've written a feature for Creative Review looking at different techniques for writing protest signs.

The Slogan Cube

This is a new thing weve made called the Slogan Cube, a tool for generating corporate taglines.

The backstory involves two old blog posts, a bot and Noel Gallagher.

About four years ago, I blogged about the trend for abstract nominalisation – the tendency of brand taglines to turn verbs and adjectives into abstract nouns. Things like ‘Better never stops’, ‘Impossible is nothing’ and ‘Find your happy’. They all disrupt normal language in an attempt to be different, but counter-productively do it in exactly the same way.

Weirdly, brands paid no attention to my post and kept on doing it. Nouns, verbs and adjectives have continued to swap places, with results like ‘Travel yourself interesting’, ‘The Do Inside’, ‘Inspire the next’, ‘Go fun yourself’, ‘Spread the happy’ and ‘I am train’. Just recently on Twitter there was ‘Career yourself passionate’.

Things came to a frothy head earlier this year with the new Stella Artois line – ‘Be Legacy’. This prompted me to write The brand line surgery, where I cut up ten brand lines and rearranged the words in a way that made more sense.

Soon after that, Russell Davies created a tagline-generating bot called @taglin3r, which uses an algorithm to tweet a new tagline every hour.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I saw a quote by Noel Gallagher talking (for some reason) about the novels his wife reads, and how they all have similar titles.

But… what f***ing winds me up about books...is, like… my missus will come in with a book and it will be titled – and there’s a lot of these, you can substitute any word, it’s like a Rubik’s Cube of shit titles – it’ll be entitled The Incontinence Of Elephants. And I’ll say “What’s that book about?” And she’ll say, “Oh it’s about a girl and this load of f***ing nutters…” Right… so it’s not about elephants, then? Why the f*** is it called The Incontinence Of Elephants? Another one: The Tales Of The Clumsy Beekeeper. What’s that about? “Oh it’s about the French Revolution.” Right, f*** off. If you’re writing a book about a child who’s locked in a f***ing cupboard during the f***ing Second World War… he’s never seen an elephant. Never mind a f***ing giraffe.

Someone should make a Rubik's Cube of Shit Titles, but it struck me that a Rubik’s Cube was a particularly good device for corporate taglines, as so many of them have three words. It also makes for a satisfyingly old-school physical tool.

So that’s how the Slogan Cube came about. Rather than remixing existing lines, I came up with 52 words that would make for interesting combinations. It’s a tricky balance between picking words that will make some kind of sense, while also mimicking the weird syntax of brand lines. I also left two squares blank to create some two-word options.

So how many taglines can this cube potentially generate?

Well, do you know the number of configurations of a single Rubik’s Cube? 

It's 43,252,003,274,489,856,000.

And do you know what you have to divide that by to get the number of possible two and three-word taglines?

Let me know if you do, because I have no idea.

Either way, it’s what Noel Gallagher would call a f*** of a lot of taglines.

I’ll be tweaking the word selection to improve the results. But here are some early favourites. I’ve suggested some suitable brands in brackets.

Imagine Becomes Wow (Microsoft)

We Meets Real (Kickstarter)

Next We Love (a Design Museum exhibition)

Purpose Delivers (Accenture)

Believe. Explore. Imagine. (Museum of Childhood)

Beyond Needs (gov.uk)

In. Through. Better. (Trainline.com)

Tomorrow Needs Think (IBM)

Beyond Real (Google Daydream)

Love Into Legacy (National Trust)