Dear CMO:
Brandweek tells us that Memorex is soon to launch its first branding effort since the 70’s. Well, welcome back, in any case. What I find interesting is that Memorex has decided to change its tag line.
Quick — close your eyes and tell me what Memorex’s tag line is. Can you? Are you old enough to remember analog, type II, and 2-pack polybags? I am — of course, I ran that part of Sony’s marketing once upon a time, a long, long time ago.
Memorex is blessed with the one and only great tag line from the old recording media days. “Is it live, or is it Memorex?” still makes sense. Maxell had the image — the man in the chair — but Memorex had the words. And Sony had the brand halo. Sure, the product wasn’t as good as Sony, or Maxell, or TDK, or even Fuji (not that anyone knew Fuji made probably the best recording media products on earth at the time), but for anyone who wasn’t absolutely passionate about coercivity and retentivity, they remembered the tag line and bought the product. They owned the, “I really don’t care which brand I buy” middle of the category.
Now, the tag line will be “Fits Your Life.” Like jeans, Special K, home owners insurance, The Gap, Visa, Restoration Hardware, your Motorola cell phone, or virutally any other product category, Memorex apparently Fits My Life. Why does Memorex fit my life? How does a recording media product “fit” anything? At Sony, we launched CD-IT, the first audio tape that was available in CD lengths. We also launched UX Turbo, a type II audio tape that was built for in-car use: a shell that didn’t warp under extreme heat conditions, a tactile button allowing you to find the A versus B side without looking, labels that had instantly adhering glue so they wouldn’t peel off in your car stereo, and a tape formulation pitched higher to cut through the ambient road rumble. Sony “fit your life.” Memorex?

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Key Takeaways:

> Per Steve Cone’s excellent Powerlines: “The More Things Change, The More Tag Lines Should Not. Lines that connect with employees and consumers are priceless. Their power builds over time and is impervious to the whims of fashion.”

> Ego, boredom, and the fact that you just inherited a brand with a long standing and excellent tag line are not good reasons to change it. Expecially when you’ve got the only good one in your entire category.

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Memorex is bored. They’ve been hearing, “Is it live?” since the 70’s apparently, and because they’ve been exposed to a good thing for this long, they think everyone else is, too.

Frankly, none of us has even thought of the Memorex brand for forty years. And now that they’re back, they’ve decided to water down the one thing they had going for them. A killer tag line.
I’m happy to be wrong, if someone can show me rock-solid quantitative testing that says, “Fits Your Life” is a more powerful tag line than “Is it live?” But I don’t hold my breath.
Photo courtesy of Flickr.