They can stick in our minds, good ones and bad ones: 'Yes We Can', 'Keep the Recovery Going', 'A Lot Done, More To Do'. Political parties can spend months - and serious money - choosing their election slogans. Some claim that they can sink a campaign, or carry one.
As General Election 2020 kicks off, the senior editors in Prime Time asked me to look into how all this slogan stuff works. What's involved in the process of picking a slogan? And what do people make of the slogans that are out there now?
"Oh, and Richard..." the boss added, "once you've the slogans thing done, try and figure out how the rest of it works, and is working out..." And with that, a new series was commissioned. It'll be online first, three times a week and called 'On The Trail'. Being honest, all I really heard was, 'Go out, get cold and wet, and stay well away from that nice warm studio'. Which I dutifully did, with my colleague Mark Coughlan.
Tony Heffernan had the good grace to let us into his home for a quick word over the course of the day. He was once a senior Labour party official, and knows the inside story of how these campaigns work. For him, the slogan has more than one purpose in a campaign: yes, they can catch the public imagination, but they're also useful for riling up opposing parties, and rallying the party membership around a single message. They're not just about attracting people in to the party message, but they're about giving the party members a base to work off.
He reckons most of the parties will have been working on their slogans on and off for more than a year. It's a long, often costly process. Each party differs but in his experience committees will rule out some, and highlight others. Potential choices are bounced off focus groups, and menus of options are run through certain members but in the end, the final call comes down to the party leader.
So, have the leaders in 2020 made a good call? After speaking to Tony, we wanted to test that out. We knew Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael's choices, the Green Party have theirs online too. Labour have yet to publish theirs, while Sinn Féin seem to be going with 'themes' rather than a single slogan. We put it to the public: what do you make of the slogans? And do they really matter when it comes to understanding the campaign?
'Prime Time: On The Trail' will be available on RTÉ.ie, RTÉ Player, Facebook and YouTube.com/RTE three times per week for the duration of the campaign.