Ronseal: It does exactly what it says on the vacuum moulded polypropylene five litre bucket

Not so long ago Ronseal products all came in a tin, hence its memorably straight-talking strapline. Twenty-one years on, however, its range is housed in all types of containers and so – as a new spot explains – the company's had a go at tweaking its famous line...

In our February 2012 issue, dedicated to the top 20 slogans of all time, Ronseal's 'It does exactly what it says on the tin' was one of our top entries.

It's a phrase that sounds like it's always been around, to the point of becoming idiomatic (it's in the Oxford Dictionary of Idioms), and many people are surprised to find out that it in fact originates from the 1994 ad campaign created for Ronseal by Dave Shelton and Liz Whiston at agency, HHCL.

In BJL's new spot for the brand, however, the phrase comes in for a bit of self-examination. It's just not accurate enough anymore, claims Ronseal's marketing manager, Martin Jones.

"We've let you down," he says, before revealing the new, more factually correct, strapline: 'Ronseal: Does exactly what it says on the rotund 203.48mm by 189.12mm vacuum moulded white polypropylene copolymer 5 litre labelled bucket'. The line is then tested on members of the public.


While of course Ronseal's new direction is satirical, it's also a nice nod to the notion of relevance in branding. Tins may not be used for every Ronseal product these days (as, the ad implies, people on social media have apparently pointed out), but that the original phrase has had a longevity beyond the particulars of the product is something few brands can claim.

When I spoke to Shelton back in late 2011, ahead of our slogans issue, he claimed that the original line came out of trying to demystify these kinds of DIY products.

"It came from a formula: 'this does that'. It's a thought, an attitude, and in this case the summation of what Ronseal are," he said. "It's what a lot of people want to hear: that something does what it says on the tin. It's endearing in a way, it does what it says it will do. It just came out and was perfect for the script. We thought 'Is it right? Is there something cleverer?'

"The demystification is key – these products can be seen as intimidating. But it's encouraging; it's not that big a deal. That's the sentiment: anyone can do it."

That branding can sometimes be as simple as declaring "this does that" is something the new Ronseal spot ably demonstrates. That this strapline has served its purpose for over 20 years – and can be sent up by the company that uses it – shows its value. Becoming a part of the common language is, well, a bit of a bonus.

Advertising Agency: BJL
Art Director: Richard Pearson
Copywriter: Karl Stones
Director: David Schofield
Director Of Photography: Aidy Peckitt
Production Company: Mob Films