Well, well. According to the Sunday Express, the late Poet
Laureate, Ted Hughes, came up in 1959 with the endline, ’Whoever minds
how he dines demands Heinz.’ I suspect this is a myth: the line neither
scans nor is it pithy. Its formality also sounds somewhat dated, even
for 1959. If Ted Hughes were still alive, I’m sure he’d sue for libel at
the mere suggestion he was its author.
But no matter. The great thing about endlines is the way myths build up
around them. Inevitably, the great ones seem to have been written by at
least ten people, all of whom claim it was their idea and their’s
And as for the bad ones, well nobody ever admits to those - they just
sort of appear from nowhere. After all, how else could you explain such
recent monstrosities as Royal & SunAlliance’s completely risible
’Together we make some alliance’ which, by the way, sounds even worse
than it reads?
The Sunday Express article was inspired by the latest edition of the
Oxford Dictionary of 20th Century Quotations, which has for the first
time included a list of famous advertising endlines. The 59 chosen
include the obvious ones - ’Beanz Meanz Heinz’, ’Have a break, have a
Kit Kat’, ’New Labour, New Danger’ and ’Heineken refreshes the parts
other beers cannot reach’ - as well as some that are more surprising.
How, for example, did they decide to include ’Access - your flexible
friend’ and the V&A’s ’an ace caff with quite a nice museum attached’, a
line which seems to be inordinately pleased with itself.
Still, no doubt the presence of the list will be interpreted in some
quarters as a belated recognition of advertising’s impact on popular
culture, thus bestowing a kind of respectability that comes from sitting
alongside such worthies as Isadora Duncan, Ludwig Wittgenstein and
I’m not so sure. The great irony of the exercise is that very few of the
endlines chosen are still in use today. Heineken has moved on; either BT
has dropped ’It’s good to talk’ or I’ve successfully programmed it out
of my consciousness; and I’d be grateful if anyone could tell me when
Yellow Pages last used ’Let your fingers do the walking.’
And that, surely, is the point: advertising, while part of popular
culture, is part of a disposable culture. Products change, market
conditions change and so, inevitably, ads and endlines change. The very
act of including these essentially transient creations, therefore, gives
them a permanence they were never meant to have.
Of course, media fragmentation today will make it much harder for
endlines to achieve such mass appeal - which is exactly why, if you’ve
noticed, advertisers are turning to a new kind of endline. Forget the
catchy slogans, look out for the website address.