What Makes a Jingle Popular?
When it comes to writing a jingle, there isn't a magic formula that's bottled up and sold at stores. Still, there are a few criteria that make for a successful one:
Published: July 23rd, 2020
A good advertising jingle has the power to spark nostalgic feelings and get stuck in your head for days. You might even have a playlist full of them. The top 10 advertising jingles of all time are:
There used to be a time when you'd turn on the TV and actually watch the commercials. If you're a Baby Boomer, then you remember Wrigley Gum's ditty, "Double Your Pleasure, Double Your Fun." Kids from the 90s will never get the Wonderball song out of their heads. Even in the digital world, companies like Nationwide and Kay Jewelers are still finding their groove with advertising jingles.
What is the history of television jingles? Which ones are the most popular? Hum along and learn a little more about these classic advertising tunes!
The jingles featured in the top 10 list all hit these notes and strike a chord with the audience. They have been on repeat for a long time, stick in your brain, and are completely original.
If you're a hip hop enthusiast, you're probably familiar with Grammy nominated artist Pusha T. He's worked with big names like Kanye West, Tyler, The Creator, and Drake. Before all this success, though, he was the man behind McDonald's catchy ba-da-ba-ba-ba. Justin Timberlake came onboard to sing the refrain and the rest is history.
According to AdAge, McDonald's spent $1.37 billion on advertising when "I'm Lovin' It" debuted. They released five commercials featuring the jingle and translated them into 11 different languages. The first appearance was in Munich, Germany, sparking debate about whether or not agency Heye & Partner were really the ones who wrote the tune. Regardless of its true origins, this jingle is as juicy as a delicious Big Mac.
Kit Kat® gave us a sweet taste of quality jingle writing with the infectious, "Give Me A Break" in 1986. Ken Shuldman was a junior copywriter at DDB Needham when he wrote the nifty tune. He brought on a classic violinist named Michael A. Levine to compose, and people started breaking off pieces of this milk chocolate all over the country!
Kit Kat®'s trademark jingle got a modern update by Chicago native Chance the Rapper in 2016. In the ad, he's dressed up as a giant teddy bear for Halloween and is shopping for the candy in a gas station. His thought at the end of the commercial: "That's a good song." The nation couldn't agree more, with about 564 Kit Kat fingers consumed every second!
All it takes is being a weiner to ensure the love of those around you. At least, that's the sentiment proposed by Oscar Mayer's enormously popular jingle. The song was composed by Chicagoan Richard Trentlage in 1965. He loved jingle writing and even created one for a fictional company called Modern Plastic Brooms when he was in high school. This fake jingle was so memorable, his former classmates sang it during their 50th reunion. It's no wonder he went on to create the beloved Oscar Mayer song!
The Oscar Mayer jingle has completely taken on a life of its own. In the years since it was released, it has been sung by a metal band, barbershop quartet, ukulele player, and even a singing parrot! You may even hear the song blasting from the Wienermobile as it cruises through your neighborhood.
While the beautiful days of $5 footlongs are gone, the spirit of the catchy jingle is still alive and well. Stuart Frankel dreamed up the campaign to bring more business to a Subway he acquired in Fort Lauderdale. The campaign was so successful, it soon became a national phenomenon. Ad agency MMB was brought on to write the jingle, and from there, this simple song and dance got stuck in people's brains. The commercials are credited with making the subs one of the best-selling fast food items in the entire country.
Unfortunately, Subway's eyes were bigger than their stomach, causing them to put the brakes on the $5 footlong campaign. That is until January 2018 when they outdid themselves with an even better deal: a $4.99 footlong. It doesn't seem to have the same ring to it.
Talk about marketing genius. Lynn Hauldren, the guy who became known as the Empire Carpet Man, turned the company's contact info into a hit jingle. The number didn't always feature the "800" at the beginning. This addition to the lyrics came in 1996 when the Chicagoland area started using more area codes. From that point on, you'd always know who to call for carpet installation.
The phone number wasn't the only thing that changed over the years. The company is now called Empire Carpet Today, and Hauldren's caricature has gotten a digital facelift. Still, though, they use the original jingle in their commercials because why fix something if it isn't broken?
Barry Manilow, you know that guy your dad is really into, is the man behind State Farm's famous jingle. Since it was released, the jingle has transformed the insurance company's corporate values for the better. In 2018, State Farm started a program called Neighborhood of Good, an entire website that makes finding volunteer work super easy. They have also formed formal partnerships with notable organizations like Habitat for Humanity and the American Red Cross.
As of 2016, State Farm revealed a new jingle that's geared more toward the positive services they offer. Written by ad agency DDB Chicago, the new tune is "Here to Help Life Go Right." The insurance company is apparently making good on that promise since about half of Americans have State Farm policies!
Lucky Charms has used their catchy jingle since 1963. The magical tune was sung by Arthur Anderson, a man with a strong Irish accent, who also voiced Lucky the Leprechaun in the commercials. The voice actor served as the spokesperson for the cereal until 1992 and then went on to be grumpy Eustace Bagge in the cartoon classic, "Courage the Cowardly Dog."
You're probably familiar with all the marshmallows found in a box of Lucky Charms. In 2018, General Mills added a mythical touch to their formula by replacing their hourglass with a white unicorn. This marks the first time the cereal has changed in over a decade! Hourglass or unicorn, they're still magically delicious.
Maybe you don't remember the day you became a big kid, but you probably remember this infectious jingle from the 90s. The campaign helped Huggies catapult to the front of the pack when it comes to diaper duty, even beating out Pampers at the time. The success comes from the adorable commercials where kids can be seen singing the tune as they use the potty.
Today, Huggies from Kimberly-Clark owns about 22% of the global market share. Their commercials have also changed since they took their first steps as a brand, though they still believe in the power of music. In a 2015 ad, they sing a slow song about the power of a good hug. It's less about potty training and more geared toward mothers who just had a newborn child.
A good jingle can seriously affect buying habits. Take for instance Alka Seltzer's tune from the mid-70s. The repetition of "Plop" and "Fizz" in the lyrics encouraged consumers to use two tablets instead of one. This made sales fly through the roof for the medication. Granted, it also might have been that people were eating one too many cheeseburgers.
Ad Age, a marketing magazine in circulation since 1930, ranks Alka Seltzer's jingle as one of the top ad campaigns of all time. On the jingle's 75th anniversay, they held a contest to see who could redo the tune in a unique way. Cyndi Lauper, the singer behind "Girls Just Want to Have Fun," judged the contest and the winner received both $10,000 and their song featured on national television.
Johnson & Johnson knocked it out of the park with this fun jingle for Band-Aid. This is another one Barry Manilow had a hand in creating. He even went as far as to alter his voice to be more "childlike" in the commercials. The song was a hit and even won ad agency Young & Rubicam a Clio Award for excellence in advertising.
America is still stuck on Band-Aids. In 2017, the brand earned over $247.5 million in business revenue. They are also still coming up with inventive advertising campaigns. One of their more recent commercials features a ballet dancer who gets the bandage placed on her feet after a performance. The final slogan that comes on screen is "Stick with It."
Cabbage Patch and American Girl may have been all the rage in the 80s, but people couldn't forget the catchy song in Hasbro's 1985 ad for the My Buddy and Kid Sister dolls.
Nothing sums up the 80s more than the Jordache Jeans ads. The most popular featured a catchy song, a bunch of poofy-haired dancers, and of course, a synthesizer in the background.
You know you have a good commercial song when the game pieces are singing along too! That's just what happened in Connect Four's classic ad.
Big Red encouraged you to do things "a little bit longer" thanks to your fresh breath. The song in the commercials was so popular that it was used until 1998!
In 1981, General Mills got into the groove with a song about Kix Cereal. Everyone, from the kids to the moms, were singing about all the tastiness of this healthy breakfast food.
The oddly specific song lists all of Skip-It's features, so you knew just what to expect when buying. This strategy apparently worked as Time Magazine named the toy one of the greatest of all time.
More fun than a pillow fight, these giant boxing gloves were responsible for many black eyes and bruises in the 90s. The catchy song hits it on the nose as kids with mullets enthusiastically beat each other.
Nestlé's Wonder Ball featured hard candies, stickers, and prizes in the middle of each sphere. The candy was pulled from shelves in 2004, but the legacy of the catchy song still lives on to this day!
Bagel Bites kept every kid in the 90s fueled after school. The trademark jingle greatly contributed to the snack's popularity and was modeled after an actual song called "Sugartime" by The McGuire Sisters.
This candy made its debut in 1998, right when we were on the verge of a new millennium! The song is so catchy that years later it was covered and turned into a music video by the Jonas Brothers.
These may be old commercial songs, but they've stood the test of time. People who grew up in those eras are still talking about these ads and getting the songs stuck in their heads.
The "On Your Side" jingle has been a hit for years, but it's recently gotten more popular. Today, the Nationwide commercial singer is Tori Kelly, a Grammy-winning singer and songwriter.
Just when you thought a funny water commercial couldn't exist, Michael Bublé proved you wrong with this 2019 Super Bowl ad. The end jingle is brief, with the line "It's Bubly" over a Big Band melody.
When it comes to classic jingles, candy like Now and Laters may have taken an early bite with "eat some now, save some for later." Still, that didn't stop Jolly Rancher from releasing an ad with their own sweet song in 2014.
There aren't any lyrics, but Home Depot has used the same riff in their ads for years. The consistency with this jingle helps to cement (pun intended) their brand recognition.
Fanta's jingle has a unique hip hop flavor that's been used since the early 2000s. The song made an appearance again in 2017 with a new troupe of dancers.
The word most often associated with jingles is "earworm." These songs wiggle into our brains and hearts, making us remember the brands when we need them most. Even if you're not the world's best singer, you can still use jingles in your advertising campaigns. Worst case scenario, there's always Barry Manilow.
Alyssa is a super cool Copywriter at Quality Logo Products. She's a fan of diving into the history of some of the earliest promos on the planet. If you need her, you'll find her buried in research, in the middle of a phone interview, or singing way off-tune in her office.
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