Home » OH, THAT’S GOOD: A Line for the Ages

OH, THAT’S GOOD: A Line for the Ages

by | Aug 5, 2019

By Matt Smith

I’ve always been fascinated by the influence and staying power of a single, memorable line.

We’ve all seen them, especially in the movies.  Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry: “Go ahead, make my day.”  Robert DeNiro as Travis Bickle: “You talkin’ to me?”  Al Pacino as Michael Corleone: “I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse.”

And it’s not just the movies that own memorable lines.  They’ve shown up plenty of times in advertising over the years, and some of them are still in use.  Nike: “Just Do It.”  Wendy’s: “Where’s The Beef?”  Avis: “We Try Harder.”  Budweiser: The King of Beers.”  There’s lots more, and they all attest to the emotional heft and marketing muscle of a single line.

All of this came to mind after I discovered some wonderful work that Admirable Devil, one of my favorite creative agencies in the D.C. area, is doing for its client, Orvis. The team there created a campaign that includes a single, wonderful line that nails the whole effort, and it sets up another, equally great tag that puts the perfect cap on the campaign.

Click on the video below to hear the line and capture the emotion of it all:

If you don’t have time to click, here’s the line and the tag:

“The two most important days in your life are the day you were born, and the day you find out why.  The Great Awaits.”

Great line, right?  It’s a perfect fit for what the client was trying to communicate.  According to the agency’s website, the challenge they faced appeared daunting: “With five distinct product categories – dogs, fly fishing, hunting, women’s and men’s apparel–Orvis sought to solve a challenge that had vexed them for years. No matter the channel, how to make their brand stand for one thing, instead of five? And how to do it in a way that felt both timeless and fresh?”

Admirable Devil totally succeeded in meeting the challenge with that line—and guess who wrote it?  The agency was wise enough to enlist the services of a pretty good freelance writer named Mark Twain, whose wisdom proved just as sage today as it was in the famous author’s time.  The tag line however, was the sole province of the agency.

So a word of caution to all you procurement types out there toiling away at zombie companies and issuing restrictive RFP’s. Emotion is the thing you folks drain from marketing campaigns and it explains why so much of the work done for you is boring and utterly forgetful. The kind of marketing that Orvis is doing with Admirable Devil is pure goodness, and smart. It connects passion and dreaming with the brand. That’s why we are all here, and it’s why I love this business! Thank you, Devils, for the reminder!


Matt Smith is founder of SmithGifford, and has close to 40 years’ experience as a creative and agency leader at the nation’s top agencies.  SmithGifford is a Capitol Communicator sponsor.

You can find Matt Smith’s earlier columns at Oh, That’s Good.

About the Author

Matt Smith

Matt Smith is the Founder of Smith Gifford, with close to 40 years’ experience as a creative and agency leader at the nation’s top agencies. He's won literally every award out there, Cannes, Clios, One Show Gold, Silver and Bronze, ADDYs, ADDYs and more ADDYs, and even Pillar of the Community and Best Places to work twice. A fourth generation Washingtonian, he can't spell or understand grammar, having spent the first 10 years of his life in schools in France and Germany. Even though "Learning three languages before age 10 messed me up bad," Matt has written a hugely successful website called WoodyBoater for the past 13 years, for which he was featured on CBS Sunday Morning.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Brand Creep

Don't tell the lawyers



Recent Comments