An article in The Guardian last month argued that in TV advertising, the catchphrase is dead. According to the article,
The bad news for lovers of kitsch culture is that the saucy postcard of British marketing – the catchphrase – is over…The cutesy wordplay or visual tricks that dominated 70s and 80s advertising…have been under attack since the 1990s.
Well to paraphrase Mark Twain, I would suggest that reports of the catchphrase’s death are greatly exaggerated. I’ll explain.
Have you heard of the new Starburst flavour, berries & cream? The chances are that if you are reading this, you may well have done. Despite the fact that advertising for this new flavour is currently restricted to US TV, clips of the ad on YouTube are currently spreading across the internet via email, blogs and every other possible vehicle. The original ad has had 1.3 million views on YouTube, whilst imitations are popping up in every possible form.
And what’s it all based on? A strange English man dancing whilst dressed up like an Elizabethan child (that’ll be the visual tricks then), singing the words “berries & cream” repeatedly, whilst getting higher & higher in pitch (and there’s the cutesy wordplay). And that’s really it.
Watch the ad, check out the guide to the dance moves, marvel at the mash-ups it has inspired, cringe at some of the imitations – seems like the catchphrase wasn’t actually dead, it just needed the kiss of life from YouTube.