Slogans: Keep It Simple, Silly!

October 9, 2020
via Pixabay

What’s in a name … or shall we say a slogan? Whether you’re running for school president or president of the United States, slogans are a big part of how you tell voters what you believe in and why you’re the right person for the job. While slogans can help a campaign, bad slogans can confuse voters and also hurt a candidate’s chances of winning an election. So, what are some elements that make a good slogan? Something short (no more than a few words), positive, and memorable. Take, for example, the first noted US presidential campaign slogan used by Whig Party candidate William Henry Harrison and running mate John Tyler in the 1840 presidential election. The slogan? “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too!” Without any historical context, you might be wondering how this was a winning campaign slogan, right? So here goes … Harrison was considered a war hero at the time when he led US troops to victory against Native American forces and secured the Tippecanoe River and the territory surrounding it in 1811. The campaign reminded people of the victory and, well, Tyler was his running mate! Short? Check! Positive? Check! Memorable? You betcha!

The US presidential election is coming up in just two short months and Democratic candidate Joe Biden and Republican candidate Donald Trump are hoping that voters remember them by their slogans. What are these slogans? President Trump’s slogan is, “Keep America Great,” which is a continuation of his slogan from 2016, “Make America Great Again” Former Vice President Biden’s slogan is, “Our Best Days Still Lie Ahead” and “Restore The Soul Of America.” While we’re waiting to find out who will be the next president of the United States, and therefore who has the winning slogan, we’re sharing some of our favorite winning slogans from elections past.

Slogan: “Happy Days Are Here Again”
Election Year: 1932
Winning Candidate: Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR)

Photograph: Leon A. Perskiedigitization: FDR Presidential Library & Museum / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)

In 1932, Americans were suffering from the effects of the Great Depression. In came presidential hopeful Franklin D. Roosevelt, who painted a picture of hope and better days ahead with his campaign slogan, “Happy Days Are Here Again.” Roosevelt convinced the American people that he was the right person for the job and won the presidential election. But that’s not all—he convinced the American people three more times after that when he won the 1936, 1940, and 1944 elections as well!

Slogan: “I Like Ike”
Election Year: 1952
Winning Candidate: Dwight D. Eisenhower

It was 1952 and the United States was experiencing a period of bliss. World War II had ended years ago and the American economy was booming. Presidential candidate Dwight D. Eisenhower (Ike) went with a short and sweet slogan of, “I Like Ike,” which echoed the cheery sentiment of the country at the time. Four years later, when Eisenhower was campaigning for re-election, he simply went with the slogan, “I Still Like Ike.” That slogan, coupled with the use of TV ads for the first time in the history of a presidential race, led to a landslide victory and a second term in the White House.

Slogan: “A Time For Greatness”
Election Year: 1960
Winning Candidate: John F. Kennedy (JFK)

John F. Kennedy won the presidential election in 1960 with the slogan, “A Time For Greatness” and boy did he make good on his promise! In 1962, President Kennedy gave a historic speech in which he said that the US would go to the moon. In 1969, NASA astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first person to ever step foot on the moon. Pretty great, right?

Slogan: “Let’s Make America Great Again”
Election Year: 1980
Winning Candidate: Ronald Reagan

Does this slogan sound familiar? Well, it should because even though President Trump used this slogan in his 2016 campaign (“Make America Great Again”), it was originally part of former president Reagan’s winning campaign slogan, “Let’s Make America Great Again.” Reagan won the election in 1980—why reinvent the wheel, right?

Interesting Fact: President Trump isn’t the only presidential candidate who has borrowed a former candidate’s campaign slogan. In 1840, presidential hopeful Benjamin Harrison used his grandfather’s (William Henry Harrison) presidential campaign slogan, “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too!” but switched out “Tyler” for “Morton.” Morton was, after all, his running mate!

Slogan: “Change We Can Believe In”
Election Year: 2008
Winning Candidate: Barack Obama

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

In 2008, a junior senator from Illinois won the hearts and votes of the American people with the slogan, “Change We Can Believe In.” With the US economy in pretty bad shape, former president Obama showed the American people that he was the change that they could believe in. Coupled with the slogan, “Yes We Can,” Obama beat Republican nominee John McCain and became the first Black president of the United States. In 2012, Obama was reelected with the slogan, “Forward.” Yep, it was one word, but that one word said it all.

If you were running for president of the United States, what would your slogan be? Share your slogan with us by emailing editor@xyzanews.com!