How to ruin a great tagline

Published on April 24, 2013 by in blog, copywriting, WTF?

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Once upon a time, this brand's tagline wasn't stupid. Really.

Growing up in the New York metro area, I appreciated Strand Books as a thing of wonder. If you loved books, here was paradise — a dim, dirty and dusty paradise to be sure, but paradise. And back in that day, the store’s tagline expertly expressed its appeal: “8 Miles of Books.”

Wow. Eight miles! The line was perfect. It captured the store’s abundance. It conveyed a hint of adventure, of hitting the road for a journey. And it communicated something of the city’s blunt pride: “Yeah, we got your books. Eight miles of ’em. Right here.”

Years later, the store made a modest, reasonable and (if anything) more boastful update to its tagline: “18 Miles of Books.”

Double wow!

Then, I’m not sure when, but not long ago, the store abandoned its quantitative braggadocio for a line that might have saucered out of the sky, streaming kombucha, from Portlandia: “Where Books Are Loved.”

Are you freakin’ kidding me? Where books are loved? Aside from its twee, hippy-dippy stupidity, the tagline stakes a claim ANY bookstore can make. Of course it’s a place where books are loved. Isn’t that true of every single indie bookstore in the world? The same cannot be said of “eight miles” or “eighteen miles” of books: in either case, that’s a claim tough to match and even more difficult to beat.

What on earth happened? Did the owners drink the water from Jersey? Were they bought out by PE morons from LA? How did this communications travesty occur?

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