Slogans are indispensable in any campaign. They are intended to drive home an important message and goad people into action. To achieve this end, the slogan has to be catchy and original, not clichéd. Alas, some maritime campaign slogans are dull and unimaginative. Four examples:

‘Seafarers are key workers’

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) would do well to hire new copywriters. ‘Seafarers are key workers’ was the theme of the Day of the Seafarer 2020. The aim was to remind the world of the important role played by seafarers during the COVID-19 pandemic. But the slogan is unimaginative and does not really mean anything. Other maritime workers (e.g., stevedores and harbour pilots) are no less “key workers”.

‘Training-Visibility-Recognition: Supporting a barrier-free working environment’

“Brevity is the soul of wit,” Shakespeare wrote in his play Hamlet. It is also the soul of slogans. The theme for the inaugural IMO International Day for Women in Maritime on 18 May 2022 is the opposite. It is not only long; it is convoluted. Visibility? Female ship officers and other women in the maritime industry are only too visible, thanks in part to social media. And why begin the slogan with the word “training”? Is the IMO suggesting that female officers need to be trained (read: undergo IMO-mandated courses) before they are worthy of recognition?

‘MARPOL at 50 – Our commitment goes on’

The IMO recently announced this as the theme for the World Maritime Day to be celebrated on 28 September 2023. But 50th anniversary of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973 (MARPOL) is such a milestone that it calls for a much better slogan. Why say “Our commitment goes on”? It sounds self-indulgent and defensive. This is not surprising in light of protests from environmentalist groups, which claim that the IMO has not acted fast enough on ship emissions.

‘No Shipping, No Shopping’

The phrase was adopted by the Stella Maris Scalabrinian Centers around the world as the slogan for their online campaign to mark Day of the Seafarer 2022. It is short and catchy, but it sounds a bit corny. The slogan also stresses the obvious: without ships and the seafarers who man them, global trade would not be possible. One could very well also say, “No stevedoring, no shopping” or “No trucking, no shopping”. And so on and so forth.

~ Barista Uno

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