Jingle All The Way
“The best part of waking up ________________________”
“Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions ________________________”
Any adult who has spent some quality time with their television or radio can undoubtedly complete the lyrics to the aforementioned jingles. What is it about commercial jingles that leave you craving a Big Mac and Folgers, more so than a commercial that hasn’t been set to music? Are we such a nation of gLeeks that we prefer everything to be communicated to us via melody rather than plain old speech?
Music has been a part of commercial advertising since 1923, though the first jingle identified as such belongs to Wheaties and debuted in 1926. It is purported that General Mills was on the brink of pulling Wheaties from the shelves when their jingle hit the air waves in late 1926. It debuted in the Twin Cities and is credited with generating over half of the nationwide sales of Wheaties in that geographical region alone. Throughout the 1930s, jingles served as a way for advertisers to circumvent strict laws prohibiting the hawking of goods on the radio during prime time programming. If an advertiser’s message was “hidden” in a jingle, it could be broadcast to the masses while they enjoyed their nightly radio programming. Jingles enjoyed their heyday in the 1950s, when men and women could be heard singing (literally) the praises of detergent, automobiles, candy, soda, and myriad other items.
The success of the jingle lies in its mnemonic characteristics. [SAT word refresher: a mnemonic device is any learning technique that aids memory; sometimes mnemonic devices are lists, but they are also often visual, kinesthetic, or auditory.] People are not extremely inclined to remember a poem about $5 foot-long sandwiches. However, once those words are set to a melody, people of all ages will begin humming about baby back ribs and ultimately (or so is the hope) turning their warbling into purchasing.
Many famous composers and performers have gotten “in” on the jingle business. Barry Manilow wrote “I am stuck on Band-Aid brand…” and “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there…” Luther Vandross was a prolific jingle singer. Randy Newmann composed pieces for Dr. Pepper.
Until the day that humans no longer fall victim to the earworm, jingles will continue to encourage us to buy [and sing].