The Ronseal Phrase

People use the phrase every day, it has come to represent a product or policy that is open and honest; it is used when something quite simply ‘Does Exactly What it Says on the Tin’.


Originating back to 1994 the popular phrase ‘Does exactly what it says on the tin’ was developed when Ronseal employed London based advertising agency HHCL to create a campaign that without trying too hard would de-mystify our products. Dave Shelton, co-creator of the line with Liz Whinston, explains the thought process behind the original campaign adverts.

“We started to write a commercial that featured a straightforward guy who said lines like: "If you've got wood to stain and you want it to dry quickly, you need Ronseal Quick Drying Woodstain."

We'd soon knocked out several scripts but we needed a line… "Does exactly what it says on the tin" was a great way of summing this up.

After the initial campaign, sales shot up and Ronseal became [a] brand leader.”

‘Does exactly what it says on the tin’ is now more than an advertising slogan; it has become part of our everyday vernacular. The line has made it into the Oxford Dictionary of Idioms, been featured in the song ‘What it Says On The Tin’ by Katie Melua, and has even been used by Prime Minister David Cameron and on multiple occasions to summarise his preferred approach to politics.

The phrase has come to represent a product or policy that is open, honest and delivers against its promise.

The phrase is now used internationally and it’s not surprising it has become the third most known slogan of all time.

[1] The phrase is a registered trademark of Ronseal’s owner, the Sherwin-Williams Company, across the European Community for products including paints, varnishes and wood preservatives (E3085826)
[2] Source:
[3] Source Creative Review February 2012

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