Slogans. We all know what slogans are. Many of us have heard and can relate to slogans that we’ve seen and heard through various different advertising campaigns. Some of us have a group of friends which have come up with slogans that are personal to everyone within the group.
Slogans can be a powerful message or they can provide comedic value to the people who know the hidden meaning behind what you’re saying. But, just how powerful can a slogan be?
You could argue that 2015 was the year where we saw slogans rise to become one of the most powerful forms of marketing and advertising and, with the help of social media, it can turn your charity or cause into something which is known and recognised throughout the world.
On January 7th, 2015, the world was left in shock as a terrorist group launched a vile attack on a Parisian satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo. In the attack, 11 people lost their lives and a further 11 people were injured as the terrorist group stormed through the Charlie Hebdo offices. After leaving, they also shot and killed a French National Police office who was outside the building.
Today marks the one-year anniversary of the shocking event and I want to take a look at the power of the words which surrounded the attack, the creation of a slogan which is still going strong one-year later and how that simple slogan has become a message of peace, freedom and solidarity across the whole world.
On January 7th, 2015 at 12:52pm, Joachim Roncin published a message on his personal Twitter account which simply read “Je Suis Charlie”. At the time, Mr Roncin had no idea that his message would be pocked up by the entire world in only a few minutes and that it would go on to become a symbol of solidarity. Since the original tweet, “Je Suis Charlie” has appeared on social media profile pictures, posters and newspaper front pages all around the world and the passion hasn’t subsided for this even a year later.
Without knowing it, Joachim has created a slogan which has been used for demonstrations of unity across the planet.
In a recent interview with Huffington Post for the one-year anniversary, Joachim Roncin explained how the slogan came to him and the true meaning behind the three words that have touched so many people.
“I never intended to create something that would go viral. At no point did I want to put on a publicity stunt. The idea was to relay a personal message. Something rather pure.
“When I said ‘Je Suis Charlie’ on Jan 7, these three words were not at all politicised, and that’s still the case for me. It is only a way to express the fact that I am not afraid, that they did not affect me, my vision for democracy, or my vision for freedom of expression. These are the things I wanted to express immediately.”
Since the message went viral, there has been many attempts to analyse the profound meaning the message.
The Washington Post discussed the collective spirit behind the words “Je Suis” while others have debated that the “Suis” part of the slogan to figure out whether it was a form of the verb “etre” meaning ‘to be’, or the verb “Suivre” meaning to follow. When asked about these interpretations and the quest for a meaning, Joachim responded with”
“When I wrote it, my intentions weren’t as advanced as that. The message was pure. It was also a form of respect for the families of the victims. A simple way of saying ‘I am in solidarity’.
“Later, I cited my sources. Obviously, I cited ‘Spartacus’ by Stanley Kubrick, as it’s a film I now well. I cited Kennedy (“ich bin ein Berliner”). There is also “we are all Americans” after the attacks of September 11. These are all relevant references.
“But with analysis and post hoc analysis, people can say what they want in images and words. Notably, there is Emmanuel Todd, who has written volumes about it. There is an analysis, which is not my own, on the march of Jan 11, saying that it’s all a big masquerade and it’s not representative of the French demographic. What I take from it is that on Jan 11, there was a communion, a solidarity with the victims from the 7th, 8th and 9th of January.
“What we must remember is that there are people who are dead because they made drawings. We cannot dispute that. It is as stupid as that. No one has the right to kill someone else over drawings. It is something Miss France could have said, but that’s it! This is what I wanted to say on Jan 7.
“When a slogan has a global impact, at a given time, there will be contrary opinions. And that leads to arguments. In that way, we begin to criticise, to take positions.”
Since “Je Suis Charlie” we have seen many more message of solidarity. There is the “Not in my name” campaign which has been set up by British Muslims who utterly condemn ISIS for their abuse of the name of Islam with their acts of terrorism. It’s designed to unite fellow British Muslims and denounce the evil group and their acts. On a recent foiled terrorist attack in London, we heard one man shout at the attacker: “You ain’t no Muslim, bruv” which has since gone viral.
This shows the power that a simple slogan can have upon the entire world. Whether it’s an advertising campaign used by a large organisation such as “Just for the taste of it” by Coca-Cola, “I’m Lovin’ It” by McDonald’s or one of the many messages we’ve seen dominating social media in the wake of crisis’ around the world. So, if you’re looking to raise awareness for your charity campaign, it’s important to consider the message that you’re trying to deliver.
By keeping the slogan simple and direct to the point, it can have a long-lasting impact which can inspire people in many different ways.
With the one-year anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo attacks now here, the “Je Suis Charlie” message remains strong, it remains a message of symbolism and solidarity. Consider this when you’re creating your next slogan.