Critics and Creators - Lindsay, Stone & Briggs

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Critics and Creators

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There’s been a lot of hoopla lately around Wisconsin with the introduction of a new tagline for the State. The tagline, Live Like You Mean It, has met with the kind of reception usually reserved for people coming from Illinois in Hummers. In the interest of full disclosure, we didn’t create this tagline.

The interesting thing about the hoopla isn’t the grumbling and pessimism around it. I expect that from almost any tagline. After all, how many of us in this business have presented a tagline to a client only to have it die a fiery death? The thing is, those corporate taglines are shot down by a handful of people and then never see the light of day. This poor Wisconsin tagline was shown to the whole world. It didn’t have a chance. So, no, the pessimism wasn’t that surprising or interesting. What was interesting was how the Web and traditional media, like radio, conspired into the perfect storm. Disc jockeys threw the first pebble and then it turned into a good Old Testament stoning.

Web sites and blogs have popped up all over just piling on. The whole thing has exposed a part of human nature that is really ugly. The part where we’re like pack animals that turn immediately to attack when we sense weakness.

Why is this? Because it’s so much easier to be a critic than a creator. Creation means you put something out in the world for everyone to see. Creation is a building process and by its nature is open to critique. Critique is often a destructive process and like all destruction requires much less effort.

Less effort to be the critic with the snarky, brash and oh-so-rude comments. And the online world has created a place where it’s just a click away. No letters to write, no stamp to lick. No counting to ten before you flame something. In fact, it’s become quite fashionable to act this way. The anonymous nature of it means you can say things that you would never say face-to-face.

But let’s stop a second. After reading all the blogs, all the vituperous, venomous critique, did anyone offer a viable alternative? The answer is no. We’ve had Drink like you mean it. Eat cheese like you mean it. Plus 101 variations of _____________like you mean it. But nothing really helpful or frankly even cogent.

The fact is, you can count really great taglines on your fingers.  Just Do It was a head-scratcher when it first came out. “Just Do What?” people asked. People needed to see the advertising that explained it before they even understood it. Think different (from Apple) was roundly criticized for being ungrammatical by people who missed the point that it was meant to be ungrammatical, that was the different part. Duh! Once again, it was made clear by the advertising that defined it and ultimately transformed it from an ungrammatical command to a corporate mantra.

Like those iconic taglines, I suspect that Live Like You Mean It will begin to resonate and take hold once there is an advertising campaign that defines what it means.

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