How 2020’s Slogans Changed the Status Quo
by Kristen Voorhees
by Kristen Voorhees
Amidst one of the most crowded, life-or-death years in communications in recent memory, it was incredibly difficult to ensure messages broke through all the noise. This past year, slogans—the short and striking or memorable phrases used by political parties, movements, or advertisers—were everywhere. Successful slogans motivate millions, transcend generations, and affect real change in our society. From “I Am a Man” to “Yes We Can,” slogans have accomplished monumental changes in policy and the general public’s views. But how do we evaluate success in sloganeering?
Successful slogans meet three criteria.
With so much disruption throughout this year, advertisers, advocacy organizations, and political parties alike used slogans to break through a crowded media space and make their voices heard. But how successful were they? Let’s take a look at a few examples.
Black Lives Matter: A Slogan Success
This slogan has been around for the better part of a decade, but the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and many other unarmed Black people at the hands of police reinvigorated its prevalence.
Defund the Police: A Conversation Starter
Shortly after George Floyd’s murder, activists, community members, and even policymakers began discussing in practical terms how to go about police reform, including defunding the police, a notion that has historic roots in the Civil Rights and feminist movements. While its reception has been anything but warm—especially among Democratic leaders—its ability to spark debate on a national scale is indisputable.
Wear a Mask
Attempts to brand the fight against COVID-19 into a catchy slogan have gone horribly awry. Whichever combination of the buzzwords “together,” “apart,” “home,” and “mask” one chooses, it is difficult to measure the success of any of them as a new wave of COVID-19 cases sweeps through the country this winter. The best effort was probably the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) attempt. Its team went with a simple and compelling slogan: #WearAMask.
These slogans were successful because they were backed by advocacy efforts across the public, nonprofit, and private sectors. While they all have their strengths and weaknesses, they do share one common achievement: they are effectively changing the way we think about the status quo.
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