A successful protest slogan has to move from banners into everyday conversations, no matter what your technique is. In 2010, British students used bawdy jokes to make cuts in education budgets a talking point amid widespread job losses, salary freezes, and welfare cuts in the UK; slogans included “Tories put the N in cuts!” and “Keep your hands off my arts!” In 2012, anti-rape protesters in India opted instead to stoke public outrage by brandishing banners that read, “Chop off their raping tools.” In 2013, Brazil’s anti-government protestors went the safe route, borrowing pre-tested taglines from professional copywriters: “The giant woke up” and “Come to the street, come” were first seen in Johnny Walker whisky and Fiat advertising campaigns before they began to appear on hand-lettered protest banners.
Occupy Wall Street protesters even sacrificed mathematical accuracy for catchiness in their slogan “We are the 99%.” Considering that 25 percent of US families own 87 percent of the country’s wealth, “we are the 75 percent” would have been closer to the truth, but the exaggeration was rewarded with instant popularity – Google searches for the term “99 percent” increased sevenfold in October 2011. In fact, the slogan was so popular that opportunists rushed to the US Patents and Trademarks office to win exclusive commercial rights for using the phrase on stickers, umbrellas and eight types of bag.
From the pages of COLORS #88 - Protest.