Unfortunately, the Marmite pun doesn’t quite work, as Ma’am for the Queen is spoken to rhyme with ham, not Marm(ite). Such a shame. As for other branding puns, I can’t help but recall a real unsung hero of the craft. From a bus one day, I saw a shop called C’est Cheese. I love that: a phonetically perfect pun, with a cheekily British use of the French (with all its positive cheesy associations), suggests the shop is the last word in its line, (‘This Is Cheese’), as well as creating a famous phrase that means ‘Smile’. So many facets. A perfect jewel of a pun.
Mike Reed, copywriter and creative director, Reed Words
Being a fully-fledged Dad I feel it my duty to inflict terrible puns on a regular basis – in fact the pastime has really groan on me. When it comes to brands using puns there are a few that stand out for me. It’s going back a while but I did love Perrier’s ‘Eau la la’ and the Christmas ‘Eau, eau, eau!’, that was a cracker. The visual puns of the Silk Cut ads were also very clever in both the way they were constructed and as a way of avoiding the mention of the brand name.
Chris Pasche, account director, Designhouse
Purists often frown upon the pun as a less sophisticated solution to a problem. ‘That’s Cobblers’, for example. But what a pun lacks in subtlety, it more than makes up for with personality. My favourites are the kind found on the high street, usually conjured up by the shop’s owner, a member of the family or a close friend. ‘Herr Kutz’ is up there, with ‘Fishcotheque’ slightly further down on the left, just past ‘C’est Cheese’.
Mark Wheatcroft, director, Wheatcroft&Co
For me, branding puns don’t get any better than Sydney based fine art transport and removals company Art. Van. Go. With just three short words they manage to effortlessly encapsulate their offer, their industry, their means and their effectiveness. To me it’s not even cheesy. It’s just clever, quick and clear. And I wish I’d written it.
Christopher Doyle, design director, Interbrand
I’m no great lover of puns, but Heinz Tomato Ketchup’s talking labels were great, with lines like: ‘sunscreen for French fries’ and ‘14 billion French fries can’t be wrong’. If you have strong enough visual equity, you can afford to play with it, or if it is in keeping with the brand personality. The Tango With Added Tango can was perfect for the target audience. I just wish I could take credit for it, but that has to go to KLP dammit.
Martin Grimer, executive creative director, Aesop
As a long-term documenter of ‘Mr’ branding (in the guise of Mr Blog), I have to put a word in for Mr Bit, the Sheffield-based cleaning service, and Herr Kutz, the Southampton hairdresser. Puns have a central role in folk branding, but it’s rarer to see them in a big brand context. Google tried it with Froogle, but later changed to Google Shopping, as the pun was considered too clever-clever. I love Ma’amite, whatever the quibbles about the official pronunciation of ‘Ma’am’. The fact that it’s a seasonal one-off means it won’t wear thin.
Nick Asbury, copywriter and co-founder, Asbury & Asbury