Jingles that changed the history

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Jingle is a short musical phrase, usually with vocal inserts (but not necessarily). The perfect jingle sticks in your head and plays all day, and upon the next listening – you immediately see the image of the product or service right before you. How did it come about and what is its fate today?

History of Origin

Some sources claim that traces of jingles can be found even in Ancient Rome or in Shakespearean England. But we won't delve that far back. Let's start our story from America of the last century. The first jingles emerged not so much for advertising goods, but on radio stations' airwaves about 100 years ago.

Here, a small digression is needed to mention that American radio stations were coded with 4 letters, for example, WSHB, KFVE, and KDWB. The first letter always indicated the station's location relative to the Mississippi River: "W" – east of the river, and "K" – west of it. This principle is still used today. Then follows the name of the city or place where the station was located. For example, KASD – Aberdeen, South Dakota, or KWCR – Weber College Radio. Poor DJs had to pronounce the full names dozens of times a day. And listeners futilely tried to memorize the combination of letters of their favorite radio station.

This went on for a while until the brilliant idea of singing the letters arose. What can I say: a simple overlay of melody significantly simplified life for everyone.

Jingles soon turned into a special musical genre. They couldn't be confused with any other music. "People talked about the Madison Avenue choir, about the sound of countless voices singing together, praising something, and about the soft jazz or light orchestral background," says Timothy Taylor, an ethnomusicologist from the University of California, Los Angeles. The result was as brilliant as a children's rhyming verse, regardless of whether the product was aimed at children.

Later, radio stations started playing music of various genres, so composers, adapting to the station's style, began writing music in different genres, from jazz to rock, and even experimenting with electronic music. One of the innovators was jazz pianist and composer Raymond Scott, who himself assembled entire musical machines. These were prototypes of modern synthesizers and drum machines. It's no wonder that his jingles stood out and were very popular. They could be heard in advertisements for cough medicine, coffee, soft drinks, and even car commercials. Although we know him more from cartoons about Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck.

First advertising jingles

One of the first was the company on the brink of bankruptcy "General Mills," which launched an advertisement for cereal crumbs in Minneapolis on the eve of Christmas in 1926. And it turned out that it was precisely in this state that the crumbs flew off the shelves. The company immediately launched advertising on a national scale. And as a result – sales growth quickly and permanently established the Wheaties brand nationwide.

Other advertisers quickly realized the value of creating an individual musical melody that would convey the name of their product in a more unique and memorable way than just a announcer.

Another example of successful use of jingles is the advertising for Pepsodent toothpaste, which was first introduced in the late 1920s and was part of a massive advertising campaign that included radio, print, and other media. The jingle contained a simple and easy to remeber melody and a text that emphasized the importance of cleanliness and dental health.

"I Wish I Was an Oscar Mayer Weiner" – a jingle created for the Oscar Mayer company in the late 1960s. It was part of an advertising campaign aimed at promoting the brand's products, including sausages and ham. The jingle became popular due to its cheerful and catchy melody, as well as a funny text that quickly became recognizable and associated with Oscar Mayer products.

Radio + TV

With the advent of a new channel for advertising, namely the emergence of television, the demand for using jingles increased, as sponsors played the same melody on both radio and television. One of the most successful advertising campaigns of the 1950s was used to introduce Winston cigarettes, a new brand made by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. The product slogan "Winston tastes good like a cigarette should" worked alongside a memorable and ubiquitous melody that dominated the radoi airwaves.

Speaking of the most memorable jingles, one cannot fail to mention the campaign for McDonald’s. In 2003, the company held a competition among many international advertising agencies. The small German firm Heye & Partner emerged victorious, offering the slogan "I'm loving it" ("Ich liebe es"). A jingle was part of the advertising campaign. As is usually the case, a regular girl, a backing vocalist, who sang a simple "ba-da-ba-ba-ba" in the studio recording, served as inspiration for the melody. Mona Davis Music President Tom Batoy decided that such a motif would be memorable for everyone.

The campaign cost McDonald’s $1.37 billion, and the jingle was used in 5 commercials, translated into 11 languages, and launched worldwide. In the US, the commercial was voiced by Justin Timberlake, and McDonald’s even sponsored his European tour.

Sometimes jingles work so effectively that they become more popular than the original composition. An example is the song "Venus," written by Robbie van Leeuwen. In 1970, it was performed by the Dutch rock band Shocking Blue. In 1986, it was revived by the British female pop group Bananarama. It was this version that was featured in the advertising campaign for Gillette women's razors, with which this song is still associated.

It is worth mentioning separately Kvitka Cisyk, a famous Ukrainian singer who in the early 1980s became one of the highest-paid performers of advertising jingles and songs in the USA. For 16 years, she was the only voice of Ford Motors, and also sang for McDonald’s, American Airlines, and others. Her most famous commercial in "Have you driven a Ford lately?" for Ford.

Another example of a jingle that even became a separate single is "Go Compare," first introduced in 2009 in advertising campaigns of the British insurance company Go Compare. This jingle became widely known due to its catchy melody, distinctive performance, and memorable lyrics. The performer Wynne Evans played the role of an opera singer. After the jingle became popular, the company Go Compare and Wynne Evans decided to capitalize on its success and released it as a separate single. This single, based on the jingle, also gained popularity in the charts, demonstrating the influence of advertising music on the music industry.

And what about Ukraine?

In modern Ukraine, jingles are not used very often. But there are still several successful examples where jingles add recognizability and subtly speak about the product or service.

The Prom.ua marketplace changed its strategy and shot several commercials where at the end there is a clear and recognizable "Prom-pom-pom" that you can sing while shopping on the website.

In the advertising campaign for the OLX online classifieds service, advertisers used well-established techniques: a star on the screen, several repetitions of the OLX name, and at the end of the commercial a small ringtone - the sounds of a MIDI keyboard, a kind of reference to the jingles of the electronic experimentation era. All of this works together; people will definitely sing along to the song, and the final notes will always point to the advertised platform.

We cannot fail to mention our fairytale campaign for the dairy brand "Slovyanochka." A simple motif, a repeated refrain with the brand designation and its benefits for the buyer — simple yet fairytale and effective components of the musical accompaniment that stick in your head no worse than favorite tracks.

In conclusion

And finally, a bit about iconic jingles that lasted less than 5 seconds but stayed in people's memories for years.

The most recognizable 5 notes are heard in a jingle composed by Los Angeles composer Walter Werzowa in 1994 under the guidance of Intel. He says that the slogan "Intel Inside" triggered a melody in his head, and the rhythm was inspired by his slogans. Each of the five tones is a blend of different synthesizers, mainly xylophone and marimba.

And to conclude, Nokia, uniting people with the sounds of Grande Vals. This melody is a phrase from a composition for solo guitar by the Spanish classical guitarist and composer F. Tarrega, written in 1902. In the 1990s, it became the first recognizable musical ringtone on a mobile phone. In 1992, Nokia used Gran Vals as background music in the Nokia 1011 advertisement.