Write a theme, not a line.

Everyone struggles when asked to define a company or product using just a handful of words. Some people call these phrases tag lines. Some call them slogans. Theme line is the best description, because it reminds you that beneath your line lies a theme. The term also has a shred of dignity.

What is a theme? Well, it’s the proposition whereby you intend to sell the thing. It’s the single- minded idea from which all your messages will spring. If your theme is fresh, your line will follow.

For Motel 6, the line is “We’ll leave the light on for you.” The theme: “this is an affordable place that welcomes everyone, not just fancy people.”  For BMW, the line is “The Ultimate Driving Machine.” The theme: “BMW makes incredibly responsive cars that satisfy people who really like to drive.” See? Once you have a theme, express it in shorthand.

Now comes the hard part.


David Fowler created long-running advertising campaigns for Motel 6 ("We'll leave the light on for you"), BP ("Beyond Petroleum"), Fanta ("Wanta Fanta"), Claritin ("Claritin Clear") and many others. His forty-year creative career included twenty years at Ogilvy & Mather in New York, as well as stints at Goodby, Silverstein in San Francisco, Ammirati & Puris in New York and The Richards Group in Dallas.