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11 Advertising Slogans That Became Catch-Phrases

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Back in the days when there were only three TV channels to choose from and no way to fast-forward through the commercials, advertising slogans stuck with us and were regularly repeated in daily conversation (just like those mad men on Madison Avenue hoped). Today’s rapid-fire special effects-laden spots don’t seem to have the memorability factor of yesteryear’s Clio winners. See how many of these phrases you’ve uttered yourself, even when you no longer remembered the context or product.

1. Try It! You’ll Like It!

This 1971 Alka-Seltzer was one of the first created by the then-new Wells, Rich, Greene advertising agency. The tag phrase soon took on a life of its own (how many mothers used it to convince their picky eaters to eat their broccoli?) and helped to get the commercial elected to the Clio Awards Classic Hall of Fame.

2. I Can’t Believe I Ate The Whole Thing

A year after their “Try it, you’ll like it” triumph, Wells, Rich, Greene came up with another memorable phrase to promote Alka-Seltzer: “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing.” The line, moaned in the TV spot by poor, miserable Ralph to his sleepy wife, came to copywriter Howie Cohen after overindulging at a dinner party.

3. Ancient Chinese Secret

Many folks remember the tag line but not the product from this long-running ad that debuted in 1972. The “secret” being hawked was Calgon, a water softening powder that allegedly helped get laundry 30 percent whiter when added to your regular detergent.

4. Calgon, Take Me Away!

Softer bath water apparently was the key to washing away the daily stress of traffic, screaming kids, barking dogs, and cranky husbands. The original Calgon bath powder was just a slightly different version of the softening agent sold for laundry use (the product name is a portmanteau of Calcium Gone), but later the line was expanded to include foaming milk baths and scented salts.

5. You’re Soaking In It

“Dishpan hands” were the bane of every homemaker’s life before automatic dishwashers became standard kitchen equipment (according to the 2010 Census, 65 percent of American kitchens were equipped with a dishwasher). Rubber gloves provide a solid protective barrier between hot water, detergent, and human flesh, but apparently that was just too utilitarian a solution for the manufacturers of dishwashing liquid. Many brands, such as Vel and Ivory Liquid, boasted that their lack of “harsh chemicals” was gentler on hands than other soaps, but Palmolive took it a step further and positioned their dish soap on the same level as pricey moisturizers. Take it from Madge, the all-knowing manicurist: That pretty green stuff softens your hands while you scrub pots and pans.

6. Don’t Leave Home Without It

This catchy phrase was coined in 1975 by the Ogilvy and Mather agency as “Don’t leave home without them.” “Them,” in this case, referred to American Express Traveler’s Checks, and the somber warning was delivered by actor Karl Malden, who was co-starring as a hard-boiled homicide detective on The Streets of San Francisco at the time. Eventually American Express altered the phrase to promote their credit card (using the successful “Do you know me?” campaign).

7. It’s Not Nice to Fool Mother Nature

Stuffing or potatoes? Tastes great/less filling? When it comes to culinary feuds, one of the longest-running and still enduring has to be butter versus margarine. Today, the argument mainly breaks down into a nutritional trans-fat, polyunsaturated technical-type debate. But back in the early 1970s, consumers cared more that their margarine-of-choice tasted like the butter it was 33 percent less expensive than.

8. How Do You Spell Relief?

This tag line was a gold mine for stand-up comedians of the era, who spelled relief from L-I-Q-U-O-R to things we can’t mention here. However, the “relief” sought in this case was for acid indigestion, and Rolaids was the remedy. The minty antacids lost a lot of market share after H2 blockers (such as Pepcid AC) began selling over the counter, so the company recently resurrected their catchiest slogan in a series of commercials featuring Food Network chef Guy Fieri.

9. Does She or Doesn’t She?

This somewhat titillating tease was used for years to sell Miss Clairol hair coloring. (The answer, by the way, was “Only her hairdresser knows for sure.”) It was preferable that laymen (and catty girlfriends) could not tell at a glance that you were touching up the ol’ grey a bit via artificial means.

10. Where’s The Beef?

Retired manicurist-turned-character actress Clara Peller was hard of hearing, which is why she happened to bellow her famous line like a foghorn. A year after filming her first Wendy’s commercial, Peller filmed an ad for Prego pasta sauce, wherein she announced she’d “finally found it” (i.e. the beef). The hamburger chain terminated her contract, leaving Peller (who apparently didn’t thoroughly understand the “non compete” clause she’d signed) to gripe, “I’ve made them millions, and they don’t appreciate me.”

11. Often a Bridesmaid, Never a Bride

The phrase that has entered the lexicon to describe someone who is a perpetual also-ran was actually coined back in 1925 to sell Listerine Mouthwash. There’s an important lesson here: Having camel breath might prevent you from landing a husband, but it won’t prevent your newly-engaged friends from asking you to spend hundreds of dollars on a pink polyester puffy-sleeved dress you’ll only wear once.

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How Frozen Peas Made Orson Welles Lose It
Rebecca O'Connell (Getty Images) (iStock)
Rebecca O'Connell (Getty Images) (iStock)

Orson Welles would have turned 103 years old today. While the talented actor/director/writer leaves behind a staggering body of work—including Citizen Kane, long regarded as the best film of all time—the YouTube generation may know him best for what happened when a couple of voiceover directors decided to challenge him while recording an ad for Findus frozen foods in 1970.

The tempestuous Welles is having none of it. You’d do yourself a favor to listen to the whole thing, but here are some choice excerpts.

After he was asked for one more take from the audio engineer:

"Look, I’m not used to having more than one person in there. One more word out of you and you go! Is that clear? I take directions from one person, under protest … Who the hell are you, anyway?"

After it was explained to him that the second take was requested because of a “slight gonk”:

"What is a 'gonk'? Do you mind telling me what that is?"

After the director asks him to emphasize the “in” while saying “In July”:

"Why? That doesn't make any sense. Sorry. There's no known way of saying an English sentence in which you begin a sentence with 'in' and emphasize it. … That's just stupid. 'In July?' I'd love to know how you emphasize 'in' in 'in July.' Impossible! Meaningless!"

When the session moved from frozen peas to ads for fish fingers and beef burgers, the now-sheepish directors attempt to stammer out some instructions. Welles's reply:

"You are such pests! ... In your depths of your ignorance, what is it you want?"

Why would the legendary director agree to shill for a frozen food company in the first place? According to author Josh Karp, whose book Orson Welles’s Last Movie chronicles the director’s odyssey to make a “comeback” film in the 1970s, Welles acknowledged the ad spots were mercenary in nature: He could demand upwards of $15,000 a day for sessions, which he could use, in part, to fund his feature projects.

“Why he dressed down the man, I can't say for sure,” Karp says. “But I know that he was a perfectionist and didn't suffer fools, in some cases to the extreme. He used to take a great interest in the ads he made, even when they weren't of his creation.”

The Findus session was leaked decades ago, popping up on radio and in private collections before hitting YouTube. Voiceover actor Maurice LaMarche, who voiced the erudite Brain in Pinky and the Brain, based the character on Welles and would recite his rant whenever he got the chance.

Welles died in 1985 at the age of 70 from a heart attack, his last film unfinished. While some saw the pea endorsement as beneath his formidable talents, he was actually ahead of the curve: By the 1980s, many A-list stars were supplementing their income with advertising or voiceover work.

“He was a brilliant, funny guy,” Karp says. “There's a good chance he'd think the pea commercial was hilarious.” If not, he’d obviously have no problem saying as much.

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How Google Chrome’s New Built-In Ad Blocker Will Change Your Browsing Experience
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If you can’t stand web ads that auto-play sound and pop up in front of what you’re trying to read, you have two options: Install an ad blocker on your browser or avoid the internet all together. Starting Thursday, February 15, Google Chrome is offering another tool to help you avoid the most annoying ads on the web, Tech Crunch reports. Here’s what Google Chrome users should expect from the new feature.

Chrome’s ad filtering has been in development for about a year, but the details of how it will work were only recently made public. “While most advertising on the web is respectful of user experience, over the years we've increasingly heard from our users that some advertising can be particularly intrusive,” Google wrote in a blog post. “As we announced last June, Chrome will tackle this issue by removing ads from sites that do not follow the Better Ads Standards.

That means the new feature won’t block all ads from publishers or even block most of them. Instead, it will specifically target ads that violate the Better Ad Standards that the Coalition for Better Ads recommends based on consumer data. On desktop, this includes auto-play videos with sound, sticky banners that follow you as you scroll, pop-ups, and prestitial ads that make you wait for a countdown to access the site. Mobile Chrome users will be spared these same types of ads as well as flashing animations, ads that take up more than 30 percent of the screen, and ads the fill the whole screen as you scroll past them.

These criteria still leave room for plenty of ads to show up online—the total amount of media blocked by the feature won’t even amount to 1 percent of all ads. So if web browsers are looking for an even more ad-free experience, they should use Chrome’s ad filter as a supplement to one of the many third-party ad blockers out there.

And if accessing content without navigating a digital obstacle course first doesn’t sound appealing to you, don’t worry: On sites where ads are blocked, Google Chrome will show a notification that lets you disable the feature.

[h/t Tech Crunch]

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