“Advertising Age” names the diamond producer De Beers’ slogan “A Diamond is Forever” as number one in its 2006 listing of the Top 10 Slogans of the 20th Century. Such slogans have impacted the commercial success of the companies that use them, and many have become part of popular speech. The test of a successful slogan is primarily its commercial success, but longevity is another important factor.
“A Diamond is Forever” is not just a famous advertising slogan; the phrase also found its way into the title of a James Bond film, “Diamonds are Forever” and the theme song from the film. According to Robin Egerton in “The Marketing of Diamonds,” De Beers’ advertising agency created the slogan in 1947. The phrase remains popular, frequently used by jewelers and other retailers as a generic slogan.
Runner-up in the Advertising Age Top 10 is “Just Do It,” a slogan created in 1988 for sporting-goods manufacturer Nike. In a mini-case study "Nike’s 'Just Do It' Advertising Campaign," the Centre for Applied Research reported that Nike was able to increase its share of the domestic sports-shoe business from 18 percent to 43 percent, and from $877 million in worldwide sales to $9.2 billion between 1988 and 1998.
In its heyday as a manufacturer of mainframe computers, the name IBM was synonymous with corporate computing. This gave rise to the slogan, “Nobody Ever Got Fired for Buying IBM.” The implication was that IBM products were safe and reliable, presenting no risk to the purchasing team responsible for information technology (IT) investments. An article by John William Toigo in Computer World magazine, "Nobody Ever Got Fired for Buying IBM, EMC, BMC Software ... er, Legato ... er ...," made the point that the attitude behind the slogan gave rise to IT purchasing policies weighted heavily toward large, established suppliers. (see reference 4)
In complete contrast, computer manufacturer Apple’s 1997 slogan “Think Different” aimed to put clear water between its own offerings and IT products from large established competitors. According to Tom Hormby, writing about the advertising campaign that grew out of the slogan, “Think Different,” helped to re-establish Apple’s reputation for innovative, creative products, which had been diluted in earlier years. (see reference 5)
Another brand that believed in the values of being a smaller, more responsive competitor was Avis, the car-rental company. Their slogan “We Try Harder” dates back to 1962 when the company was struggling. An article on the company’s website describes how members of the advertising agency Doyle Dane Bernbach came across the phrase in discussions with company employees who reported, “We try harder because we have to.” (see reference 6) A year after the campaign began, Avis posted its first profit in 13 years.