Memorable marketing messages

March 23, 2005

The pizza industry advertising is slathered with slogans, some memorable, and some not. But studies show that even the best slogans don't always equate to high sales, and that those companies that are the busiest don't always have the best slogans.

Eager to understand why some slogans work, asked some experts to weigh in on some better-known brands' taglines. We asked them to describe why some stick in listeners' minds while others slipped right through.

Papa John's: Better Ingredients. Better Pizza.

Perhaps the most infamous pizza slogan of all, "Better Ingredients. Better Pizza." landed at the center of a tumultuous legal battle between Papa John's and Pizza Hut that raged from 1998 to 2001 and went as far as the Supreme Court.

So, were these four words worth the fight? "It's solid, if not exactly brilliantly catchy," said Barbara Lippert, advertising critic for Adweek magazine.

"I like the simplicity and balance of this slogan," said Lisa Huber, who has taught linguistics at the University of Louisville in Louisville, Ky. "It is positive, uses repetition of sound, is balanced visually and syntactically, and uses a semantic structure that reinforces its claim. It is concise, containing only content words."

"Compared to other ads, this one may be more likely to appeal to individuals who are influenced more by reasons than by image," said Lynn New, professor of psychology at East Texas Baptist University, in Marshall, Texas. "The ad suggests a possible reason why this pizza may be better."

Little Caesar's: Pizza! Pizza!

Simplicity and symmetry are highly effective in Little Caesar's slogan, which is the shortest — and oldest — on the list.

"This slogan uses simple repetition of the key word to make its point," Huber remarked.

"The use of the exclamation mark in print and the exclamatory intonation in the spoken version, along with the repetition implies, 'Pay attention to these words — there's something important you need to know.' It has the fewest and simplest words of all the slogans. There's a rhythm and humor to the word pizza that is emphasized by saying it twice."

Domino's Pizza: Get the Door. It's Domino's!

Of all the slogans surveyed, Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Domino's tagline got the most enthusiastic review.

"This slogan differs from all the others in a number of ways," Huber said. "First, it is comprised of two syntactically complete sentences instead of phrases. Second, it includes an attention-getting command that speaks to the reader/listener directly. Third, this slogan uses the name of the brand, Domino's. In that way, it stands out and is, perhaps, 'stickier' despite the extra words ('the' and 'it's') and lack of syntactic or semantic or rhythmic balance."

"People attend to messages that have relevance to their personal lives," said New. "This ad suggests a connection between pizza and your busy life; it is at the door."

DiGiorno: It's not delivery, It's DiGiorno

DiGiorno Rising Crust Pizza's slogan seems to accomplish its goals, according to our experts.

"I like this slogan because of the play on the sounds 'di' and the Italian feel of adding 'di' to a noun," said Huber.

According to New, this phrase uses downward comparison to make the product seem special. "Here the pizza is special because of what it is not; it is not ordinary delivery pizza."

"When one reads or hears 'it's not x, it's y,' one assumes that x and y are related semantically," Huber added. "The semantic relationship refers to the unstated topic of pizza and quality: Implied is that one could mistake DiGiorno pizza for delivery pizza."

Topics: Domino's Pizza , Little Caesars , Marketing , Papa John's

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