It does exactly what it says on the tin

I remember when this ad was originally on air:

It was on quite a lot (particularly during the football, if memory serves) and it stood out for reasons that might now seem obvious. Since then it has cropped up in conversations and newspaper headlines so many times you almost forget how odd it is and where it came from.

It’s now back in the news because David Cameron has actually named an entire style of government after it. Yes, that’s right: the Prime Minister of Great Britain has named his governmental methodology after a slogan for some DIY varnish from twenty years ago.


I’ve long admired the tendency of that line to crop up time and time again, many years after its inception. After all, to have written something which becomes part of the vernacular is what we should all aim for: every time anyone says that phrase it’s a like a little free ad for Ronseal.

The only other line that has come close to it in recent years is ‘You either love it or you hate it’ from Marmite. This might have even surpassed the Ronseal line because people have been referring to others as a ‘Marmite person’ (‘you either love them or hate them’) for ages. ‘Marmite’ now means ‘loved by some; hated by others’. That’s a whole new word, or at least a whole new meaning of an old word.

I guess the tricky thing is that it’s impossible to predict what will be used beyond its 30 seconds of TV time. A friend of mine once created a TV ad which featured a silly action with the expressed intention of trying to make kids copy it in the playground. I think the ad disappeared without achieving its goal, but my friend had the right idea: don’t just sit on the side of culture – become it.