Whatever happened to jingles in advertising?

Is it just me, or have others noticed that jingles are being used less than they used to? I recently wrote how distinctive brand assets help build brand esSense (click here), and there are few assets that are as distinctive as a memorable jingle.

From my childhood I can remember many brands, and almost all of them are linked to jingles or sound signatures.  “For mash get Smash”, “Everyone’s a fruit and nut case”, “Beanz Meanz Heinz”, “They’re GR-R-R-reat”, “Schhhh … you know who”, “A Mars a day helps you work, rest and play” and many more. Wall’s Cornetto’s use of “O sole mio” as “Just one Cornetto” in advertising has been cited as the best remembered of all time. In one study, 70% of people remembered the song more than 20 years after the campaign had finished.

Simply put, a jingle is a simple brand message or tagline with added music that helps add personality and memorability. Jingles are sticky, catchy and you can’t get them out of your head. By themselves, taglines often lack memorability, but the addition of a sound element, especially a catchy tune, adds another dimension. They help people remember your brand and bring a unique characteristic that can never be copied.

A few brands continue to use jingles. McDonalds have been using “I’m Lovin’ It” for some years now, and as well as sticking in people’s minds, it sits well the brand’s values and archetype (an Idealist and Every(wo)man. But how many more brands can you think of hwo use this approach?

I’m not sure why this is. Perhaps it is linked to the increasing short-term thinking of advertising, compared with brand campaigns that used to run over years (or even decades)? Jingles started in the days of radio. Wheaties (a General Mills cereal brand) is frequently attributed as the first to use a jingle with “Have you tried Wheaties?” first aired in 1926 on WCCO radio station. The four male singers of the jingle became known as The Wheaties Quartet.

If I’m right, this is a big mistake. While radio is not the main medium now, it is still important. Sound is an important part of most modern advertising media including digital channels. Jingles are one of the most distinctive assets a brand can have and underused today.

In many ways, jingles work like the nursery rhymes that none of us can ever forget. If you want your brand to be remembered, create a distinctive jingle. “Write a song, keep memories long”.

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