Wednesday, 24 June 2015

This is the end, beautiful friend, the end...

We’re sipping our way through our third, or fourth, jug of margaritas at the local cantina, someone has turned up the sound system and incongruously Led Zepplin are pouring out Stairway to Heaven, the mood is restful. As Mr Plant reaches the final line, after 10 sublime minutes, someone starts to sing along, off-key and grating, taking the line apart one syllable at a time, to the obvious disgust of all present.
It’s me, of course, under the baleful eye of my art director who lashes out in a flurry of Tank Girl boots and Issey Miyake, severely curtailing my karaoke and any chance of fatherhood in the near future. Catch the real unhampered power of a perfect end line from the maestro himself at:

An end line is like a final retort in a conversation, something that should underpin everything and leave you feeling complete and satisfied. Like a satisfactory argument with your bank manager, or telling your boss to sod off.
Having a superb product can often help when you’re writing a line to sum up the whole of your offering. The BBC iplayer lets you view all your favourite BBC TV and radio programmes in one place, it also remembers the last seven shows you watched and picks up from where you stopped watching last time. Pretty nifty stuff, and, of course, it helps to have a quality back catalogue of the depth of the BBC’s to choose from. Even the ads for it are of the highest standard, the spoof penguin wildlife one for instance is a perfect representation of the end line: “Making the unmissable, unmissable.” It’s beautifully understated, just what you’d expect from the BBC.

Back in 1966 Y&R took the humble baked bean into the public lexicon with the immortal “Beanz meanz Heinz,” from the creepy “Village of the Damned” casting of the 70’s:
To the seemingly impossible realm of a Heinz Beans sex change commercial today:, the end line has survived endless ill conceived attempts to kill it off by over zealous admen to finally achieve its final resting place amongst the icons of adland.

A line that created a million unfunny spin-off t-shirts and schoolyard jokes, the Pepsi end-line was so convoluted you had to practically start it half way through your ad to make sure you got it all in. “Lipsmackin' thirstquenchin' acetastin' motivatin' goodbuzzin' cooltalkin' highwalkin' fastlivin' evergivin' coolfizzin' Pepsi.” was the brainchild of Mr David Trott of BMP and a direct descendant of “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” as written by the Sherman Brothers and warbled by Dame Julie Andrews.
The Pepsi version was sugar-coated enough to lay a diabetic out at 40 paces. Get your fix at:

End lines, like all advertising, are an art, not a science, but that doesn’t stop number crunching semiotic searchers from trying to dissect them looking for some golden egg of generality. The most popular words used have always seemed a good place to start such a journey.

Omitting words such as "the" and "and," these are the 20 most frequently used words in end lines, (percentages represent the number of lines using that word out of the total number of ad lines):

1. you - 11.15% 2. your - 7.94% 3. we - 6.03% 4. world - 4.18%
5. best - 2.67% 6. more - 2.54% 7. good - 2.43% 8. better - 2.12%
9. new - 1.90% 10. taste - 1.85% 11. people - 1.54% 12. our - 1.49%
13. first - 1.42% 14. like - 1.41% 15. don't - 1.36% 16. most - 1.19%
17. only -1.16% 18. quality - 1.15% 19. great -1.13% 20. choice - 1.08%

Using the logic that the most used must have some correlation to the most popular, and therefore most successful, I proffer up my own end line based on these results.
“We offer you and your good people only the best quality and more choice with our great, better taste, the first of our new range like you don’t find anywhere else in the world.”
Catchy it isn’t. I believe, as someone famous once said, “there’s less to this than meets the eye.”

Some end lines have moved with the times, using popular catch phrase and vernacular to fire the imagination. In the early 80’s Gold Greenless Trott employed what could be called an East End swagger to their lines with classics like: “You can break a brolly but you can't k-nacker a Knirps.” A technique which spread to other agencies leading to the much vaunted “Milk's gotta lotta bottle” the Milk Marketing Board’s appeal to get the great unwashed to drink more of their cow extraction.
Then onto HHCL in 1991 for the hugely successful, “You know when you've been Tango'd.”
And even today it continues, with the rather enigmatic, “More gobble, less wobble” for the stomach churning Matteson’s Turkey Rashers and "You'll never want to l'eggo,” for Kellogg's Eggos Waffles.

For the more esoteric amongst us Muller have produced a commercial starring both a 100 year old geezer, a one year old nipper, and a selection of in-betweenies, all cavorting under the line’ Lick the lid of life,” have a look at:
but beware, like the endline it’s not for the squeamish.

Then there’s the curious use of a single word to convey a company’s ethos, examples are far ranging from “Driven," as used by Nissan in the USA, to IBM’s "Think," and United Airlines rather hopeful "Rising”. It is difficult to convey much with a single word, unless that word is the “F” word and the man explaining it happens to be Billy Connolly:
This minimalist approach reached its zenith with Nike, of course, who got a big tick for dropping their end line all together.

My own favourite line comes from back when The Flintstones were the raciest thing on TV and Fred could heard yodelling “Yabadabadoo!” to all and sundry.
To trade on this popularity Brylcreem produced a shining example of the end line that stood head and shoulders above their competition, “A little dab'll do ya!” was a cry that filled the nation’s bars,

and believe me when I tell you, you’ll remember it perfectly no matter how many Mexican cocktails you’ve waved goodbye to.

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