No Loo, No I Do


When I was in the Jaycees I used to cringe at the empty slogans that pervaded annual elections.  I couldn’t quite figure the point.  And, suprisingly, my leadership potential therein was limited.  As the years went by I noticed slogans everywhere in use; corporate brands, volunteer efforts, and political campaigns. 

I never have been concerned about brand logos.  But I have wondered about political slogans.  Too often they are big broad vacuous themes purposely designed to allow people to pour their own wishes and aspirations into the unspecific space of words.

So what of slogans?  Time Magazine back in 1979, commenting on the Carter administration’s botched “New Foundation” slogan (Do you remember that one?) said

Nothing has raised the question more forcefully than President Carter’s embarrassing effort in his State of the Union speech to establish his Administration’s slogan.

 That’s how I generally feel about slogans.  But apparently not everyone.  Time says they

“probably do more good than harm.” 

Well, that’s a low standard.

How to improve upon that?  Bring on the Indians.  I recently learned from a Melinda Gates TED talk about a campaign in India to increase the number and use of bathrooms.  The “No Loo, No I Do” campaign was designed to get men to build bathrooms for their families.

And what startling results the slogan campaign has had.  From a Washington Post story titled “New Seat of Power For Women” 

“No loo? No ‘I do,’ ” Vimlas said, laughing as she repeated a radio jingle. . .

About 665 million people in India — about half the population — lack access to latrines. But since a “No Toilet, No Bride” campaign started about two years ago, 1.4 million toilets have been built here in the northern state of Haryana . . .

“I won’t let my daughter near a boy who doesn’t have a latrine,” said Usha Pagdi . . .

“The ‘No Toilet, No Bride’ program is a bloodless coup,” said Bindeshwar Pathak, founder of Sulabh International, a social organization, and winner of this year’s Stockholm Water Prize for developing inexpensive, eco-friendly toilets.

It’s a strong example of a slogan affecting how people perceive a problem – and who can argue with the health benefits all across India. 

But me, I don’t get caught up in that kind of thing.  If it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight, I just do it.

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One Response to No Loo, No I Do

  1. Moose says:

    On the other hand, I seem to remember a previous administration promising a “New Deal”, which seemed to catch on (although I wonder what Time magazine said the first time they heard the slogan). I suspect the Indian toilet campaign would have caught on, even with a lame slogan, simply because it’s a good idea.

    My favorite advertising slogan of all time was American Airlines “Something special in the air”. Too bad they weren’t.

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