The Sneaky Power of a Negative Tagline

Nancy Friedman
4 min readMar 17, 2023
“Made to Not Last”: a still from Becca Clason’s stop-motion animation of the See’s Candies tagline.

You’ve seen the rules: A company tagline should be a mini-mission statement. A tagline should convey a benefit. A tagline should never use words like not or, well, never.

Good advice, right? After all, look at Nike’s “Just Do It”: encouraging and uplifting. Or Disney’s “The Happiest Place on Earth”: a fairy tale come true. Or L’Oreal’s “Because You’re Worth It”: an anthem to self-esteem.

No wonder those taglines have endured for decades: They’re memorable and, above all, positive.

Then there are the exceptions. The sly, twisted, unexpected, unapologetically negative exceptions.

Let’s say you’re a century-old candy company, beloved for generations and rooted in sweet traditions. How do you celebrate your centennial?

See’s Candies, founded in Los Angeles in 1921 and now headquartered in South San Francisco, could simply have kept promoting its serious, not-especially-distinctive-but-indisputably positive tagline, “Quality Without Compromise,” or its peppy (and positive!) alternate slogan, “A Happy Habit.”

See’s Candies A Happy Habit Barbie doll (1999). Note slogan in upper-right corner. Via Amazon.

Instead, See’s went negative — with a wink. It went with “Made to Not Last.”



Nancy Friedman

Writer, name developer, brand consultant, idea-ist, ex-journalist. @fritinancy on Mastodon, Instagram, Bluesky, Threads, and elsewhere.