The National Basketball Association and General Motors Corp. both use the "all good" expression-a favorite of sports-bar hoppers-as the tag for their latest ad campaigns.
Buick began using the tagline April 16 in a new spot for its Century model, replacing "Isn't it time for a real car." Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann-Erickson Worldwide, Troy, Mich., handles Buick and created the campaign, aimed at attracting a younger, hipper clientele to the aging brand.
About the same time, the NBA broke its own "It's all good" ads during the broadcast of the NBA draft. Those ads, created in-house, featured shots of game greats in action to show how the game has always been and will always be-what else?-good.
The choice of the same line is particularly ironic considering the median age of the Buick buyer is 60, while the NBA routinely attracts viewers in their teens.
"We weren't particularly happy when we found out what [the NBA] was doing," said Garry Neel, exec VP-managing director of McCann's Troy office.
The NBA knew about Buick's tagline in advance because the agency had sent the commercials to the networks for clearance, said Mr. Neel. But he said his understanding is the NBA will only use the tag during the playoffs, which will end soon. Buick, on the other hand, will keep the tag for a long time.
"It proves it's a very hot statement right now, a very positive statement," he added. But he said the league's use of the line won't help Buick because of its limited-audience use and limited run.
Neither Buick executives nor NBA executives were available to comment.
So what to do about the tagline so nice, they used it twice? Perhaps a little history lesson is in order.
In 1992, Southwest Airlines found its new tagline, "Just Plane Smart" was too close for comfort to "Plane Smart," the slogan of Stevens Aviation, an aircraft-maintenance company. Southwest CEO Herb Kelleher offered to settle the dispute in an arm-wrestling match against Stevens CEO Kurt Herwald.
In a Texas-size spectacle where the audience wore T-shirts calling Mr. Kelleher "Just a plane old fart," he lost two out of three. But the fix was in: Both CEOs had already agreed to share the line and donate the proceeds to charity.
Free-throw contest, anyone?
Contributing: Jean Halliday