The Slogan Doctor

AXA - Be Life Confident. It’s not exactly English, is it? ‘Life confident’ can only be a compound adjective.

Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

It's not exactly English, is it? 'Life confident' can only be a compound adjective, but compound adjectives – 'user-friendly', 'IBM-compatible', 'trigger-happy' – need a hyphen. So it should be 'life-confident'. But is there such a phrase? No. Despite sounding like a bad translation, the slogan, devised in 2003, was created by TBWA in London for AXA's global HQ in Paris. Its unidiomatic quality is unlikely to worry the French-owned financial services giant. The line is translatable, but even in English makes as much sense in Thailand, Singapore, China, Malaysia, Indonesia and Hong Kong as here. Or as little. The line is meant to suggest that being 'confident' in AXA's financial products will leave its customers free to enjoy 'life' (in the ads, funfair rides and parachuting). But the slogan reflects the vogue for adding a redundant 'life' to ordinary words to make them trendy: 'life skills', 'life partner', 'life experience', 'life choices'. Like so many slogans, it sticks by irritating. It's an itch you want to scratch. But it beats its groan-inducing predecessor: 'You only have to AXA'.

John Morrish

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