At my very first advertising job, I learned a particularly useful technique for breaking out of “writer’s block.” I was told to make random lists of things. But these weren’t just any old shopping lists or bucket lists or lists of all the girls I ever slept with (which is, oddly, the only list I’ve ever made in my adult life). No, these were lists designed to stretch your creativity. You come up with a ridiculously restrictive topic and then brainstorm your way through a dozen or more items to put on said list. For instance, my coworker liked to come up with Rejected Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Flavors (Crunchy Lemon Diaper was a particular favorite). We used to come up with names for new car models, movies about vegetables and gay superhero teams (the overtly lispy We’re Ssssssuper! is a classic). I still use this exercise almost every day and it seems to go hand in hand with the other exercise I’ve perfected: Spontaneously Making Up New Lyrics to Old Songs.
What do these exercises have to do with today’s post title, you may ask? Go ahead and ask. I’ll wait…
Done? Okay. Good. Here’s the answer: Visa just changed their slogan. And, it seems, they found their new slogan on someone’s discarded “writer’s block” list.
Look, I get it. I really do. I understand the whole double meaning behind the slogan. More people CHOOSE Visa. More STUFF HAPPENS to people who use Visa. It just seems like an odd time to try to rebrand yourself. The markets are tanking. Unemployment is skyrocketing. People’s homes are being taken away at an alarming rate. And yet, Visa would like you to buy some balls. Literally (and figuratively too, you pussy). It takes a lot of balls to ask skittish consumers to dive into the deep end of the debt pool.
Anyway, this seems like some sort of cheap peer pressure tactic to me. Visa is calling you out. They’re saying, “Hey! Bunches of cool people are using Visa. Why aren’t you? What are you afraid of? Didn’t your mommy love you? Do it!”
When you think about it, that’s a pretty dramatic shift from their previous slogan: Life Takes Visa. See, life is in charge in that one. Visa is just along for the ride. You need Visa, but you need life more. Life just does what it wants and Visa is life’s bitch. Of course, the slogan that Visa employed for decades before that was: It’s Everywhere You Wanna Be. You can’t get much more passively convenient than that. We’ll just be over here, quietly sobbing in the corner, if you need us!
But now things are going haywire. Companies are getting more aggressive. And you can feel the tension. So, in order to show you how the advertising creative process really plays out, I’m going to reveal the rest of that rejected slogan list right here. You, my 17 loyal readers, will now get a peek inside the dirty business of brand making. You may never view the world with the same innocent eyes again…
REJECTED VISA SLOGANS FOR 2009 REBRANDING
Visa: More People Have Less Real Money.
Visa: Someone Else Will Pay For It.
Visa: We’re Everywhere Your Stuff Used to Be!
Visa: China Owns Everything.
Visa: Makes Your Wallet Fatter, In Theory.
Visa: Rhymes With Lisa. Remember her?
Visa: Our Favorite Color is Blue.
Visa: Don’t Look At Us!
Visa: Now With Chocolate-ish Flavor.
Visa: Cannot Be Used as a Flotation Device.
Visa: You’re Fucked.