The Night Owl may be free of contemporary politics, but when oddity and dubious judgment is at hand, international and historical politics are replete with examples.
Case in point, political slogans.
For your amusement, here are some classics…
“Vote for Al Smith and make your wet dreams come true.” (Al Smith, Democrat for U.S. President, 1928)
Al Smith was the Governor of New York and a vocal opponent of the National Prohibition Act. His campaign wanted to promote his dislike of “dry”… i.e. alcohol-prohibiting… laws. And double entendre was purely in the mind of the reader. We know that’s true, because a politician told us so.
“Ross for Boss” (Ross Perot, Reform for U.S. President, 1992)
Some credit is due here; it’s memorable, it’s short, and it even rhymes. For a man with no political experience but a record as a very successful businessman, it reminds people of that business record. But – especially in 1992, so shortly after Reagan – few people would admit they wanted a “Boss” instead of someone who would represent them. When a political slogan is going to turn off potential voters, “short and memorable” probably isn’t a great thing.
“Are You Thinking What We’re Thinking?” (U.K. Conservative Party, 2005)
One rule in politics is to avoid handing your opponent hammers to beat you with. Making your slogan an open-ended question is a gift… setting it so that it can be framed as reflecting your core values during parody is even worse.
“Me Ne Frego” (Itay’s Fascist / National List Party, 1924)
Yes, it was a winning slogan… but “I don’t care” is the very apotheosis of bad campaign messages. At best, if all is going right under the authority of the office, it can be seen as “honest” (albeit dismissive). If all is not going well, it provides a convenient reminder about who is responsible for every ill, and who might need a one-way trip to the public square.
“The Answer Is Liberal” (Australian Liberal Party, 1990)
This is the Jeopardy! version of the open-ended question error of the 2005 U.K. Conservatives. All of the energy was immediately and permanently sucked out of the slogan when the opposition candidate commented, “If the answer is Liberal it must have been a bloody stupid question.”
Question of the night: What’s an advertising slogan (political or not) that you liked?