Branding: Bring Back the Jingle!

Dina Giolitto

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Did you grow up in the ‘70s and ‘80s? If so, you probably have a slew of campy jingles from various TV commercials filed away in your brain. Today, advertisers still use jingles to help identify their brand, but not nearly as much as they did “back in the day. " Why is this?

Part of it is probably that in the digital age, there are so many more options. Companies spend money on electronic campaigns rather than television, because they know there's a planet full of non-TV watching prospects that can be reached via the internet. Digital equipment makes video production super fast and easy, which means that if you've got an idea for something outlandish and wild that possibly involves a celebrity or special effects, it can be done fairly quickly. Musicians and celebrities are willing to sell the rights to their music or their image, to advertisers who want people to equate their brand with a popular song or celebrity icon. Many advertisers opt to make commercials that attract attention for bizarreness or shock value.

Even so: is a commercial that's loaded with larger-than-life graphics, chilling special effects and famous celebrities going to make people remember your product? Is a commercial that's off-beat and “artsy" a good choice as a brand builder? These days, there’s an awful lot of information to take in. Your commercial might be cutting-edge creative, but what does that matter if people are only half-paying attention anyway?

We retain information by developing associations. In recalling people and events, your brain links one idea to another and then connects the two. Music does this especially well. Is there a song that reminds you of your first love? Is there a “soundtrack” to your life that conjures up a steady stream of memories? Most people would answer yes. Which would explain why kitschy little songs from ‘70s and ‘80s television did such a nice job of burning all of those brands into our minds and keeping them there to this very day.

I used to write ad copy for Toys"R"Us. I remember when they decided to bring back their classic song, of course you know what it is! “I don’t wanna grow up, I’m a Toy”R”Us kid. . . ” It was the perfect time to do this. The original Toys”R”Us kids were all grown up with new Toys”R”Us kids of their own. . . but the memory was still there, ready to be brought back to life. So the second time around, Toys”R”Us funked up their famous old jingle, hired a band to play the “rock ‘n roll rendition. . . ” unveiled a “whistling only” version of the tune. . . and did it bring back the Toys”R”Us kid in all of us? You bet it did!

Even if some of them were annoying, the campy jingle lives on in our memories! Can you identify the tune that goes with each of these famous lines?

"Starburst fruit chews. . . a burst of refreshing fruit flavor for you. . . "

"A double pleasure's waiting for you. . . "

"G. E. . . . we bring good things to life!"

"It's a good time for the great taste of McDonalds!"

"Whatever it is I think I see. . .becomes a Tootsie Roll to me!"

"There's a fragrance that's here to stay, and they call it. . . Charlie. . . "

"Now, you see it. Now, you don't! Here, you have it. Here you won't. . . "

"You can roll a Rolo, to your friend. . . it's chocolate covered caramel from end to end!"

As we progress further into the digital age, we must realize that sometimes a simple message is often the most effective one. That’s especially true for branding.

If you’re about to embark on a grand-scale advertising plan, consider hiring someone to write a short, catchy jingle that you can use in your television, radio, and even internet advertising. Make it a tune that’s sure to stick in the consumer’s mind. Just like the classic commercials you know and love, you’ll be remembered for generations to come.

Copyright 2005 Dina Giolitto. All rights reserved.

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