TV commercials are so predictable and boring that I tend to zone out through most of them. And Walgreens is definitely not my favorite pharmacy. So, it surprised me that I kept noticing the tag line at the end of each of their ads, “At the Corner of Happy and Healthy.” I realized that this simple slogan had hooked my unconscious and was changing my impression of this large, faceless corporation.  “Happy” and “Healthy” are two places I want to be, and where they intersect is at Walgreens. Congratulations, you ad guys, you got to me.

Of course, lots of people thought the phrase was kind of silly and simplistic. On-line bloggers made up counter-slogans, like “It’s a block away from the corner of Bored and Depressed,” or “Near the corner of Cannabis Blvd. and Mary Jane Lane.” A Walgreen employee group wrote that it was “Across from the corner of Overworked and Underpaid.” In spite of these spoofs, the bottom line is that this ad campaign, over the five years of its existence, would have to be considered successful.

But advertising people can’t sit still for long. They decided Walgreens had to have a new image, so after a great deal of market research and analysis, they came up with a new slogan, “Trusted since 1901.” This decision was announced last December, and ads developed since then have all had the tag “Trusted since 1901,” instead of “At the corner of Happy and Healthy.” You hadn’t noticed? That’s probably because it was a stupid decision.

The reason for this emphasis on trust over time seems to be that Walgreens was losing business to younger companies with novel marketing ideas. The biggest threat seemed to be the increasing volume of on-line purchase of the drugs and other commodities people have traditionally bought at pharmacies. It seems strange that Walgreens decided to step into their future by reminding people of their past. You want people to picture a 1901 drug store, really?

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The Gospel is the Good News that God invites us to the corner of Grace and Love. Christians of all generations have been telling hurting, lost individuals about this hopeful message. And the appeal has drawn people to spiritual Health and Happiness, in spite of hatred, persecution, mortality and warfare. However, in our day, some creative Christian leaders have felt it was time for new ad campaigns. They have dropped traditional words and titles in favor of more modern messages.

An on-line site lists the ten top product slogans of all time as “Just Do It” (Nike), “Got Milk?” (National Dairy Council), “Think Different” (Apple), “This Bud’s for You” (Budweiser), “Reach Out and Touch Someone” (AT&T), “Where’s the Beef?” (Wendy’s), “A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Waste” (National Negro College Fund), “Let Your Fingers Do the Walking” (Yellow Pages), “A Diamond Is Forever” (De Beers), and “They’re Grrrreat!” (Frosted Flakes). I think churches have tried Christian variations of all of these.

But the appeal to the trust factor seems to be re-emerging in an age when all sorts of charges of “fake news” are in the air. Major TV evangelists are asking viewers to trust them, sometimes in spite of a history of deceit. Mega-churches appeal to their very size and affluence as grounds for trust. Of course, the various denominations feel they have earned the trust of their constituents over many generations. In the case of the Catholic Church, the claim might be “Trusted since Peter was Pope.”

But I still like the old-fashioned Gospel message of hope for renewal “At the corner of Grace and Love.”

— Pastor George Van Alstine