Interesting post on the Edible Geography blog about ‘snowclones’ – linguistic templates that can be used in a range of different variants – or alternatively, a “some-assembly-required adaptable cliché frame for lazy journalists.”

Ad taglines, if they’re really successful, become some of the most prolific snowclones, the post points out. Like, for example, the Marmite line – ‘you either love it, or you hate it’:

According to the editors of the Guardian’s style guide, Marmite rose to snowclone status soon after the launch of its new squeezy format in March 2006. Since then, there have been 119 Marmite comparisons in the paper, including, in just the last couple of months, architect Renzo Piano’s Central St. Giles (“It’s also a Marmite building, which passers-by either hate or love”) and designer Ron Arad (“He’s the design equivalent of Marmite”). At this point, Marmite analogies have apparently overtaken the previously ubiquitous “elephant in the room” in Guardian bingo.

But there are heaps others. Variations on ‘Got Milk?’ Or ‘X? $300. Y? $500. Z? … priceless’. Or even (kind of ironically) ‘Think Different’.

This all got me thinking about how that’s really one of the most insistent ways that consumers co-opt marketing for their own purposes – and, vice versa, how marketing insinuates itself into how we all think.

2 thoughts on “snowclones

  1. This is really interesting. Once you get everybody using your catch phrase in different contexts than the original ad, it should translate as a huge pile of free advertising.

    Is there any research to find out what effect such a campaign has on the brand’s sales? Did Marmite (or milk, or Mastercard) make any more money since the campaign was launched? Did they get a greater degree of brand recognition? Or did the campaign slogan get co-opted by the zeitgeist without an effect on the bottom line?

    If they worked financially, then I guess the definition of the best ad agency would be the one who thinks of the most co-opted ocampaign slogans. (I wish I knew how to do that!)

  2. Print ads: twenty grand.
    TV spot: four hundred grand.
    Adoption by the zeitgeist: priceless.

    Though yeah, I wonder…. i suppose at the most, it boosts recognition, which becomes part of the brand’s equity. How you put a dollar value on that, I dunno. (Clearly some people do, but:

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