I judged the campaign a little too cute for its own good – or for my good. But I never had a solid reason for dismissing it. I'm averse to word-play in taglines – "the if in life" – but that's being fussy.
Putting the MetLife line in historical context might help. Over the years, the company's slogans changed with the times.
1909 – The Light That Never Fails.
A religious feeling to this one... seems to imply affiliation with the Big Guy upstairs.
1922 – Not Best Because It's Biggest–But Biggest Because It's Best.
This silliness caused many to cancel their policies – after wiping the barf off.
1923 – Biggest in the World, More Assets, More Policyholders, Most Insurance in force.
Sounds like a barroom boast. More hot air!
1936 – Keep Healthy. Be Examined Regularly.
Not set to music, but think about it: if everyone would just keep healthy the life insurance companies would clean up.
1954 – Metropolitan service is as local as Main Street...as close as your phone.
What happened to "Biggest in the World"? Suddenly we're all neighborly.
1959 – The Light That Never Fails.
...and the tagline that never dies. Clearly "close as your phone" had no pull with the Big Guy.
1964 – More choose Metropolitan Life–millions more than any other company.
Back to reassuring hugeness. This line came from two committees, both made of PE majors.
1966 – Protecting 1 out of 5 people in the U.S. and Canada.
1 our of 5, eh. That's 20%. At this point the advertising team reported to Accounting.
1970 – We sell life insurance. But our business is life.
Great. Can I buy another life? Okay... not literally... "life" as in beer and hotdogs.
1973 – Metropolitan Life–where the future is now.
Books on Zen were popular. The past is present, Grasshopper.
1979 – Come to Metropolitan. Simplify your life.
The last year of Carter's presidency, which was just one complication after another.
1985 – Get Met. It Pays.
Now the tagline itself has been simplified. Coming in the next decade: "Work hard. Fly right."
2001 – One of the older hippies was up late and had a vision... met life... met life... that's it! MetLife I'm glad I met ya!.. no, that's not it... Have you Met my wife?... No... You Met your life!... no, hold on... Eventually he got there: "Have you met life today?"
And that brings us to the present.
2011 – Guarantees for the if in life.
Given what came before – More assets! A light that never fails! – I have to give this one grudging approval. It does convey the benefit of life insurance: as back-up in time of life's unpredictable quandaries.
Brandsinger – "Bran for your innards and song for your soul"... no, that's not right... hold it... I've got it... "Brand your singing er else..."... No... wait... just a sec...