idea blog

Marketing commentary for better. Or worse.

As far as taglines go, there’s a deserved premium on clever. The best taglines express the ethos of their company sideways — sparking that flicker of recognition that comes in the gap between perception and understanding.

But what about when a tagline goes too clever?

We think this campaign by Maker’s Mark may be guilty of the latter.

To see if any tagline is effective, we need to examine: what’s the messaging it’s embodying?

Let’s assume Maker’s Mark was going for something like: Maker’s Mark is a no-frills whiskey that sets itself apart from its peers. It doesn’t need to try. It’s just its own unique thing.

Is this what these ads deliver? Or does it end up feeling more like: Maker’s Mark is a whiskey that has bland pretensions to uniqueness, and is actually just another big market whiskey trying to sell to you.

While these ads must have been fun for their agency — getting to toss around a bunch of rebrands of the famous Maker’s Mark red wax drip, without actually committing to any — the tagline ends up feeling too much in service to the gimmick & glib from which Maker’s is supposedly trying to distinguish themselves. And in another campaign — where the tone is more serious and earnest — the tagline ends up just feeling pretentious.

But hey, we like Maker’s. Maybe they’re just getting the intonation wrong. (It’s your fault, Jimmy Fallon!)