February 15, 2024
4 minute read time

Taglines, Punchlines, and the Magic of Resonance PINOPINION

Migi Santico
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“Just do it.”

– Nike

Lines don't just sell shoes, they build multi-billion dollar businesses. They associate a carbonated drink with joy. They win presidencies. We also laugh at them in stand-up comedy shows.

I was a senior in college when my Copywriting 101 professor taught us how to craft the line. At my current stint as a copywriter, my mentor taught me about the why. Looking back, I realized that I learned about the same thing when I was in grade school when my English teacher was talking about the main idea in stories. While they aren’t the exact same thing packaged differently, they all point to an underlying, universally resonant truth.

“Open happiness.”

– Coca-Cola

It’s from these truths that the most influential brand slogans, campaigns, and even the most relatable, hilarious jokes are born.

In the field of marketing, there are many considerations when coming up with a campaign tagline, brand slogan, or just a social media caption. Who’s the target audience? What is this brand or product’s unique selling point? How does the brand want to come across? I let these sit, set the intention of conjuring an idea, and let it surface. But more often than not, they come unrefined. And that’s where my work as a copywriter comes in—taking an idea and making it click.

“Yes we can.”

– 2008 Obama presidential campaign

We often think that the best slogans or taglines are the clever, catchy and sales-y ones. While there is some marketing truth in that, the most powerful lines come from universal truths—ideas that every human being can relate to.

This process is similar to the one I practice when writing jokes. I search for gags, or rather I sit by the river of my consciousness, quietly waiting for a catch. Other times, the lines or ideas write themselves. It’s in these moments where I have to seize a thought and write it down before it disappears. Then, as I do in copywriting, I edit my build-ups and punchlines to make them stronger and hopefully, funnier.

“Language is a funny thing. How can you be ‘up’ or ‘down’ for something, and mean the same thing?”

– Me and my last two brain cells

The one time I tried stand up comedy at El Chapo’s Taco Joint in Maginhawa some years back, I experienced my lines and stories thrown into a crowd of strangers. Through a marketing lens, they were the target audience. More so, I carried a distinct personality as a brand would, and crafted and delivered the jokes in a certain tone of voice.

“It was my first time telling stories and jokes to a crowd, and it was nerve-wracking. Are they going to laugh? Or will there be an awkward, crushing silence?”

In my mind, they were hilarious, but it was only when laughter filled the room that I knew they were relatable and funny.

While it takes time, intention, and practice to write compelling copy or hysterical jokes, the magic of ideas is available to everyone. In both my professional and personal life, I’ve observed that we can all come up with brilliant lines. At times, we even shock ourselves, wondering how a particular thought came about. Ultimately, the magic comes from an understanding of the human condition and the ability to express it.

As creative beings with the power to express for different purposes, it is our birthright to cultivate this art of finding, crafting and delivering the line. We don’t have to look far and wide for the “best line”, we just have to tune into our own experiences and write them in a way that is clear and true.

Whether it’s copywriting or writing jokes, the beauty is in the ability to shape into words not only my reality, but the reality others share with me. This mutual understanding is what creates this concept of the truth for many people. In my case, I chalk it up to the crowd at Maginhawa that night who laughed so generously at my jokes.