Are We Too Cool for Jingles?

I read the other day that a famous creative has declared jingles dead. I can’t think of any that stick in my brain that are current, so he might be right. To this day certain jingles from the past are still ingrained in my head — Rice-a-Roni, the San Francisco Treat, and Have It Your Way, the Burger King jingle from the 70s are the two that come to mind immediately.

If jingles are so memorable, why have they fallen out of favor? Maybe because they are annoying, and the 4,000th time you hear “Hold the pickles, hold the lettuce…” in your head you’re tempted bash your own brains in just to stop the noise. Another possibility is that we as a society see ourselves as too cool to be influenced by jingles.

Compare television commercials from the 60s or 70s (easily found on YouTube) to what is broadcast today and it sure looks dull in hindsight. Commercials today are action packed, use funky camera angles, feature bright colors, and make liberal use of sophisticated graphics.

Original songs or hot new bands are the music for the hippest commercials these days. Even songs from the 70s and 80s are used regularly. Yes, the jingle just seems a little too old fashioned for the modern world.

I have to wonder, however, is the marketing and advertising world overlooking a golden opportunity? At the local level I still remember a jingle used by Ourisman Chevrolet in the Washington D.C. market back in the mid-80s.  At that time they had been using it since the early 70s.

Put a catchy tune into someone’s head, reinforce it over time and they’ll remember you forever. I’m not aware of any studies that have quantified the long-term value of a memorable jingle, but think about what it’s done for the Rice-a-Roni brand.

It used to be the buying public heard your jingle on TV or the radio. Today your jingle can be used on a website, on Facebook, in emails, on YouTube, your smartphone, your company on-hold music, and who knows how many other places in addition to TV and radio. The opportunity to drill a jingle into people’s heads has never been greater, yet the jingle has been declared dead.

I think those willing to put aside the need to be cool, and the need to follow some pretentious creative director’s pronouncement, can benefit from a well-written, catchy jingle. Get people singing your tune and it will reinforce everything else you do to market your business. And that translates into sales, which is why we market in the first place.

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