Slogans – The Un-Learning

Rebranding Wisconsin

Like Japanese people on powerboats and Germans singing in unison, slogans give me the creeps.

On the one hand, slogans are a quick, direct way to convey a message to adults and children without the need for nuance and explanation.    Most of our advertising is really just re-packaging of slogans:

“The UnCola”  “Built Ford Tough” “Shaefer.  The one beer to have when you’re having more than one.” – That last one’s my favorite.

Even schools have slogans.  My school works under the motto “Learning…Let’s Make it Happen!”  Although in truth you should replace “Learning” with “High Test Scores” and “Let’s Make it Happen!” to “Let’s Make Sure They Keep Going Higher So The Bosses Don’t Hassle Us!”

However, slogans can also intimidate, indoctrinate, and even brainwash.  The totalitarian regimes of the 1930s in Europe were chock-full of slogans: Germany’s were well thought-out (“Deutschland Erwache” – Germany Awake!) while the Italian versions were so silly even the Fascists laughed at them (“Credere, Obbedire, Combattere!” – Believe, Obey, Fight!).  However well meaning or silly, their impact is no less destructive–and that groupthink mentality continues today.

Look at the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP), a charter school system that has drawn both praise and criticism.  Their slogan is “Work Hard.  Be Good.”   Their extra-long days are filled with pep talks, slogans, and chanting in unison.  Sound familiar?  Did George Orwell write the student handbook?  Maybe the brochure should state how they’re educating inner-city children to conquer Poland and supervise ethnic cleansing.

Enough knocking KIPP, they’re too easy a target.  Let’s move on to the Wisconsin Department of Tourism, an earnest, well-meaning bunch just like all Wisconsin folks, I’m sure.  I’ve met quite a few and they’re great people–which is why they deserve better than the hackneyed slogan unveiled Monday March 16 by the governor and other state dignitaries.  As you can see by the logo on the post above, it states “Wisconsin.  live like you mean it.” and features what appears to be a mental patient doing a cartwheel.  So this means that only in Wisconsin do they “mean it”?  The other 49 states are living a lie, and should enjoy a life of brutal cold winters, summer sausage, high per-capita beer consumption and a side of grilled bratwurst?

Just as a helpful hint to other states in the Union, here are some new slogans to choose from:

“Florida.  Live One Kilo at a Time”

New York. Live Like You got a Pair”

“Massachusetts.  Live with the fact that David Ortiz won your World Series juiced like a mango (There I said it!)”

“Texas.  Live with the safety on”

“Louisiana.  Live to show your t**s”

“Colorado.  Live above the tree line.  We dare ya.”

“Hawaii.  Live with Barack Obama’s ‘birth certificate’ (wink, wink)”

“California.  Vive con gente que todavia hablan ingles…hasta ahorra”

These sound just as serious as “live like you mean it”, don’t they?  Maybe Wisconsin was just a little too hasty.  Sling back a Schlitz and think it over.  If you are going to use a slogan, try to tie in something about the state.

I would use bratwurst.  And not in that way,  you sickos.

1 Comment

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One response to “Slogans – The Un-Learning

  1. “The other 49 states are living a lie, and should enjoy a life of brutal cold winters, summer sausage, high per-capita beer consumption and a side of grilled bratwurst?”

    I don’t know about brutal cold winters, where brutal is defined as Wisc.-like,(fn1) but otherwise, yeah. In fact, hell yeah.

    fn1: As opposed to NYC winters which can have their own special flavor of brutality but are by and large what people in Wisc. would consider a rather mild autumn.

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