If you’ve been sitting at home for the past few weeks with the Netflix going, you may be aware that we’ve been living in a new Golden Age of Television for some time.

Are we also living in a new Golden Age of Sloganeering?

Dude. You're wearing that facemask all wrong | The bandaged traffic warden from 1984 BBC apocalyptic drama Threads

[Check out YOUR SUPER SOARAWAY Apoplexy Tiny Letter]

Say what you like about the reckless negligence of the British government and its various recent offshoots and predecessors, they sure as hell know how to write a slogan.

The 10 Downing Street Daily Coronavirus Briefing, yesterday.

Or Bob Flag as Big Brother in the 1984 film version of, er, 1984.

Actually, the Ministry of Truth may have outsmarted themselves with that last one. BBC Pravda and The Daily Torygraph have been fretting over recent days that the government’s messaging has been so effective that citizens may be reluctant to snotter all over Wales and the Highlands and Islands now that the lockdown has been eased in England.

Pensioners flaunt lockdown rules at fifth home

The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall clap for NHS and frontline workers during the UK coronavirus outbreak
HAHAHA! Well done!! That’s hilarious!!!

I even found myself saying to the Wee Man in the middle of the night the other day


Me, the other day. Did I not just say that?

So, they’ve applied a handbrake turn. And, to give them their due, they’ve not gone with the blindingly obvious DO AS THOU WILT | SELL THE NHS | KILL THE PROLES. Instead, they’ve affected staggering incompetence to effectively have the English public carry out their instructions.

Poundland Bill Clinton wearing his dad's clothes | Boris Johnson's address to the United Kingdom accompanied by an image reading STAY ALERT | CONTROL THE VIRUS | SAVE LIVES
If you see the virus, don’t approach it | Narf! | The world need more lerts

☝️This👆is a handout image that was provided by 10 Downing Street to accompany Boris Johnson’s incoherent address to the nation on May 10. I found it accompanying an article in PR Week titled PR pros lambast new Government ‘Stay alert’ slogan as ‘unclear’ and ‘unhelpful’.

Well done, everybody.

Shia enjoying Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull – someone has to | Shia Lebeouf applauds himself intensely in an empty theatre, in formal attire
Did I say “CLAPPING”? Sorry, I meant “DEATH”

Let’s have a look at what Dominic Cummings and pals could have picked up from the great slogans to do a better job, shall we?

A Diamond Is Forever

This one is objectively pretty ace. It wraps up one of the better qualities of a diamond – its toughness – with the symbolism one would want it to bring to an engagement ring.

"Naw, that lassie was wi big Tommy when he delivered mulk tae ma grannie" | Sean Connery in Ian Fleming's Diamonds Are Forever
That doesn’t *look* like a milkman fae Fountainbridge

And – this is the clever bit – the slogan doesn’t get bogged down with diamonds not being rare, losing 50% of their value as soon as you walk through out the shop, or any of that boring ethical stuff.

Hmmm. How about Coronavirus Is Just For Easter?

All the news that’s fit to print

The New York Times’ slogan has been going strong since 1896. Christopher Hitchens recommended reading it as a good daily mental check-in.

If I can still exclaim, under my breath, why do they insult me and what do they take me for and what the hell is it supposed to mean unless it’s as obviously complacent and conceited and censorious as it seems to be, then at least I know I still have a pulse.

Christopher Hitchens, Letters to a Young Contrarian

Now we’re getting somewhere. Like Get Brexit Done and other classics, it doesn’t really mean anything, and the reader can project themselves upon the phrase. The fact that it seems to convey the way BBC Pravda and the British papers have chosen to conduct themselves recently in the national* interest is a bonus.

Like, is Hitler's cavalcade driving by or something? | The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall applaud NHS and essential workers.
*Hello again. Pick my rotting fruit, proles.

Just Do It

The Daddy of slogans, if you will. Ad exec Dan Wieden says he was inspired by Gary Gilmore’s last words before his 1977 execution

Let’s do it. Ouch. That stings.

Gary Gilmore, per Questioning Media Ethics (1978) by Bernard Rubin. Kinda.

Again, brilliant. Just Do It can mean anything from Kill Me Now to I’m going to hold this Downward Dog pose for another ten seconds to Kill me by forcing me back to work teaching your kids without getting a handle on this shitshow of death you’ve allowed to run wild.

Mr Garrison says, "UGH. Why not pay people what they're worth, rather than patronising them? | The teacher in South Park gets very angry.
C’mon. We’ll clap for you on… I dunno. Tuesdays?

So, it turns out that STAY ALERT | CONTROL THE VIRUS | SAVE LIVES is pretty close to being genius. It’s meaningless, yet still manages to be misleading, and that’s all pretty key.

It just needs tweaked.

Fortunately, Olaf Falafel’s Government COVID Slogan generator exists.

Click. Rinse. Repeat. Go on – Just Do It.

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2 thoughts on “Sloganeering

  1. How about: Just Say No.

    Simple, clear, direct… and not effective at all, I reckon. But a good reference point for the era in which it was created. At least, for the type of ignorance present in the era in which it was created. I bet Shit-Gibbon Donald never said No to anything in the 1980s.

    One of the few cases where the “Just Say No” concept actually worked is documented (OK, fictionalized to a degree, but generally true) in a film which should have won an award for Best Title:

    However, a very important lesson (if you will) from the film is that it’s not enough to just say no; it’s how you say it, and how you convince others to say it (and vote for it) that matters tremendously.

    So in conclusion, I say… Just Say Yes! To music compilation albums from the ’80s and ’90s!

    1. That movie is going directly to the Must Watch List!

      Dòmhnall Iain’s relationship with mood-altering substances is interesting, isn’t it? Apparently, he’s teetotal due to his late older brother’s alcoholism and early death. Says he’s never smoked cigarettes or cannabis. Loves injecting bleach and gobbling hydroxychloroquine.

      I’m beginning to wonder if I’m high!

      Just Say Yes! I picked that up in a second hand record store in Austin in the mid-nineties and played it to death. But, today’s mood? NO.

      With obvious exceptions.

      Yes to independence for Scotland / Scottish independence

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