Help me out here.
I’m new to this marketing business. I wrote a tagline for my last book, Implied Consent, and I’m not entirely sure how good it is. I wanted to do a tagline because it’s a great way to plant the story in the mind of a prospective book buyer. If the Rule of Seven is true (someone needs to see an ad seven times before they’ll buy), then the repetitive exposure to the tagline should help lock in the message. Right?
Besides, those New York marketing guys knew what they were doing in the early days of mass media marketing, and they leaned on taglines.
Who doesn’t remember these TV ads?
“Ask Mikey. He’ll eat anything.”
“Two, two, two mints in one.”
“It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature.”
“Calgon, take me away.”
“Bet you can’t eat just one!”
“Where’s the beef?”
Here are a few mystery fiction examples I found on Amazon:
“First rule: Make them like you. Second Rule: Make them need you. Third Rule: Make them pay.” – The Murder Rule by Dervla McTeirnan
“Someone is watching her. She just doesn’t know it yet.” – The Nurse by Claire Allan
“No one knew they were together. Now one of them is dead.” – 56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard
What makes a great tagline? (Solely my observations)
Short and punchy. Of the TV ads, the Mother Nature tagline is the longest at seven words. Shorter is better.
Engaging. It’s subliminal but in the six TV ad examples, the viewer is invited into the story.
- “Ask Mikey. He’ll eat anything.”One kid is commanding the other to ask Mikey, but the viewer is commanded as well.
- “Two, two, two mints in one.” The first thing that comes to my mind is: Hey, they said “two” three times!
- “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature.” It’s a warning to all of us.
- “Calgon, take me away.” Me too, sister, me too.
- “Bet you can’t eat just one!” A direct challenge to the viewer. And I can’t. Believe me, I tried.
- “Where’s the beef?” The viewer wants to know too!
Rhythmic. The longer taglines have a rhythm, compensating for the lack of brevity. Rhythm helps to stick the tagline in the reader’s mind. “Two, two, two mints in one” is a really old line but here I am pulling it right out of my head.
Evocative. The TV ads are all humorous. People are thankful when you make them smile. The thriller tag lines are ominous. In mine, I’m trying to raise a feeling that injustice must be corrected.
“Secrets bind the shamed to the guilty. Truth will set them free.” –Implied Consent
I came up this tagline from early Netgalley reviews. “Secrets bind the shamed to the guilty” is a line in the third act. It resonated with a couple of reviewers enough to quote it. I felt for tagline purposes, it needed a second sentence, something that engaged the reader’s desire to see justice prevail.
Not sure if I hit my mark. It’s long for a tagline. The use of the word “bind” can stop a reader. I tried “trap”, but it didn’t feel as powerful. Maybe “chained” would be better? And maybe there’s a better emotional hook that justice? I don’t know. I’d be grateful for suggestions.
Talk to Me (please)!
What taglines do you love? What makes a good tagline? How could mine be better?