slogan (rhetoric)

Glossary of Grammatical and Rhetorical Terms

beef slogan
"[This] popular slogan for the American beef industry's advertising campaign in the early 1990s . . . implies that animals exist to be eaten" (C.P. Freeman and O. Leventi-Perez, "Pardon Your Turkey and Eat Him Too" in The Rhetoric of Food, 2012). (Beef Checkoff Program and Leo Burnett Worldwide)


A slogan is a short, attention-getting expression (or catchphrase) used in promoting a product, candidate, or cause.

A maker or user of slogans is a sloganeer, and the frequent use of slogans is called sloganeering.

In business, government, and society at large, says Stephen Jeffares, "the act of "visioning stems from a desire of humans to make complexity manageable by creating simplified images through slogans, logos, rhetorical statements and simplified stories" (Interpreting Hashtag Politics, 2014).

See Examples and Observations below. Also see:

From Scottish Gaelic, "army" + "cry"

Examples and Observations

  • No Child Left Behind
    "The very title 'No Child Left Behind' is an appropriation of Marion Wright Edelman's slogan 'Leave no child behind,' used for her work with the Children's Defense Fund. Commenting on NCLB, and the fact that most urban schools are making no progress in reducing the achievement gap between white and minority students, Edelman said in January of 2006:
    Our children have been hijacked and shackled by bad policy and bad politics. . . . This nation has squandered away four years and billions of dollars in education funding. Our children have been tested to death, forced to regurgitate and at the end of the day they haven't learned to do basic reading and math or much less learned to think. It's a national shame.
    (Levister, 2006)
    Yet, most Americans seem to have a better opinion of the policies, in part because of Wright's slogan. While opinion polls suggest most people actually know few specifics of NCLB, many broad slogans and buzz words in the law have wide support."
    (P. Shaker and E. E. Heilman, Reclaiming Education for Democracy: Thinking Beyond No Child Left Behind, Routledge, 2008)
  • Just Do It
    "To the list of great copy writers in advertising, add an unlikely name: Gary Gilmore.

    "Mr. Gilmore, the notorious spree-killer, uttered the words 'Let’s do it' just before a firing squad executed him in Utah in 1977. Years later, the phrase became the inspiration for Nike’s 'Just Do It' campaign."
    (J. W. Peters, "The Birth of ‘Just Do It’ and Other Magic Words," The New York Times, August 19, 2009)
  • A Mars a Day Helps You Work Rest and Play
    "Why is this [slogan] memorable? To begin with, it rhymes, and runs in a fairly regular rhythm (though the regularity follows some rather complex metrical rules). The sentence structure places work, rest, and play as parallel activities . . . and the rhyme comes on play. And of course it echoes an even older saying, 'An apple a day keeps the doctor away,' which gives it a sound of familiarity and perhaps inevitability."
    (Greg Myers, Words in Ads. Routledge, 1994)
  • Advertising Slogans as Logical Fallacies
    "[A]ds run through the entire range of fallacies, challenging theorists to invent pigeonholes into which to put them all. How, for instance, should we categorize the fallacious reasoning that leads people to be swayed by endlessly repeated, mostly empty slogans? . . .

    "Slogans run the range from modestly informative ('Miller Lite: Great taste, less filling.') to the somewhat suggestive ('Chevrolet. Like a rock.') to the completely irrelevant ('Nike. Just do it.'). In general, they work because they are repeated endlessly, so that they become engrained in our minds."
    (Howard Kahane and Nancy Cavender, Logic and Contemporary Rhetoric: The Use of Reason in Everyday Life, 10th ed. Thomson Wadsworth, 2006)
  • Political Slogans
    "The political slogan is one of the most potent weapons in a party's armoury. The best linger in the public memory long after the issues driving them have moved on. The slogans of the 2005 British election . . . lent themselves to subversion: the Conservative slogan 'Are you thinking what I'm thinking?' became variously 'Are you sinking like we're sinking?', 'Are you smoking what we're smoking?', and 'Are you thinking? We're not' on British graffiti and on websites . . .."
    (Susie Dent, Fanboys and Overdogs: The Language Report. Oxford University Press, 2005)
  • The Lighter Side of Slogans: Pawnee, Indiana
    "'Pawnee: The Paris of America.' 'Pawnee: The Akron of Southwest Indiana.' 'Pawnee: Welcome German soldiers.' After the Nazis took France, our mayor kind of panicked. 'Pawnee: The Factory Fire Capital of America.' 'Pawnee: Welcome Vietnamese Soldiers.' 'Pawnee: Engage with Zorp.' For a brief time in the 70s, our town was taken over by a cult. 'Pawnee: Zorp is Dead. Long Live Zorp.' 'Pawnee: It's Safe To Be Here Now.' 'Pawnee: Birthplace of Julia Roberts.' That was a lie, she sued, and so we had to change it. 'Pawnee: Home of the World Famous Julia Roberts Lawsuit.' 'Pawnee: Welcome Taliban Soldiers.' And finally, our current slogan, 'Pawnee: First in Friendship, Fourth in Obesity.'"
    (Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope, Parks and Recreation, 2011)

    Pronunciation: SLOW-gen

    mla apa chicago
    Your Citation
    Nordquist, Richard. "slogan (rhetoric)." ThoughtCo, Dec. 14, 2015, Nordquist, Richard. (2015, December 14). slogan (rhetoric). Retrieved from Nordquist, Richard. "slogan (rhetoric)." ThoughtCo. (accessed November 23, 2017).