Make Slogans Great Again

If there’s one lesson from politics in 2016 it was to ditch slogans like Hilary Clinton’s “Stronger Together” and the Brexit Remain Campaign’s “Better Together”.

Both Gillian Tett in the Financial Times (article, “Make slogans great again”) and Gary Gibbon from Channel 4 News wrote about how supporters of Clinton in the US and Remain in the UK never adopted the ‘Together’ slogans. Tett talked about how Clinton’s followers struggled to remember “Better Together”. Even campaigners at Democratic conventions confused it with the “I’m with her” message. In the UK, Gibbon commented on how Leave voters had adopted the “Take Back Control” slogan, but that he hadn’t heard a single Remainer talk about “Better Together”.

The opposite is true for “Make America Great Again!” and “Take Back Control”. Supporters waved, wore and waxed lyrical about these messages. Both have a clear call to action, but they also tapped into a particular mood. This was something the Clinton campaign struggled to do. The Washington Post reported that her campaign team focus-grouped over 84 slogans, from “It’s About You” to “Stronger At Home”.

“Make America Great Again!” wasn’t the most original line, Ronald Reagan used “Let’s Make America Great Again” in his 1980 presidential campaign, but Trump added a “!” and delivered it in a way that hit home to his supporters. It did what all great campaign slogans need to do – it provided the opening line.

Written early 2017