It dawned on me the other day – is the advertising jingle dead? The question crept up on me suddenly when I realised I had the classic Calgon jingle ringing in my ears – still unchanged from 30 years ago it seemed. I started to reminisce. ‘Washing machines live longer with…’, ‘I’d rather have a bowl of…’, ‘If you like a lot of chocolate on your biscuit, join our…’ They’re all classics, that admittedly whilst a tad irritating at times, are still just as catchy and more importantly memorable decades later. And when it comes to brand recall, you can’t argue that the jingle works wonders. This is beautifully demonstrated by the very apt scene from the Pixar film ‘Inside Out’ – which shows the power a jingle can have on your brain.
With that said, undeniably, the jingle is a rarity today. I mean, it’s not completely extinct, but it’s pretty much on the brink. So why is that? Do jingles tarnish the brand? Are they perceived as being ‘cheap’ or ‘tacky’? Do they run the risk of aggravating potential customers away from the brand? You could argue that a bit of brand controversy can be a good thing . To generate an actual emotion in your audience, even if it is absolute annoyance/ rage / “shut the hell up!” (cough *Go Compare* cough), gets the brand remembered and gets the job done.
Whilst thinking through this little query to myself, I decided that the jingle hasn’t been silenced – it’s just evolved. Perhaps grown up. There was the mnemonic – basically a jingle without words / brand sound. Think the Intel ‘bongs’ and the McDonald’s ‘Whistle’ (which is so damn catchy, even my parents’ parrot Monty sings it). However it ran the same repetition risk as the classic jingle. Today, brands seem to lean towards commercial music, often using the songs of unsigned artists, giving themselves an identifiable sound without any of the cons and the added bonus of potentially being the brand who ‘discovered’ the next big thing. One example of this comes from one of my favourite ads of all time, for Sony Bravia… You know the one with the bouncy balls? (In fact it is so spectacular it is one for a blog another day). A chap called José González recorded an acoustic version of a song called “Heartbeats”, which after appearing on the ad spent 14 weeks in the UK top 40 charts and became synonymous with the brand – a win, win.
So what’s it to be? Jingles, mnemonics or brand songs? They all do a great job for brand recall but for me… I would love to see the return of the classic, jingle in all its annoying glory. I don’t know, maybe it’s advertising wisdom or maybe it’s just bad taste, but I for one bloody love jingles! (Skips off into the sunset singing “Birdseye potato waffles, totally… You know the rest.)