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Sonic Branding

Monday, May 24, 2010

Subway sandwich Subway sandwich (modernangel/flickr)

Advertising jingles used to play a crucial role in drumming up sales, but with time they became hokey and hopelessly outdated. Now, they’re making a surprising comeback.

Stuart Elliott, the advertising columnist for The New York Times, discusses the recent trend. And pianist and composer Roy Eaton tells us about his days as a jingle writer.

Comments [24]

Daniel Jackson from London

I wrote a book on this stuff. It's called An Introduction to Sonic Branding and you can buy it on!

Jun. 02 2010 11:19 AM
Beth Anne from Bellingham

As a member of the younger generation in my mid twenties I did not really grow up with the jingle as part of my life. There is very little nostalgia involved for me. That being said, I HATE them. Every time they come up on a commercial, I have a distinct desire to put a shoe through my computer monitor. I know for a fact that I am not alone among my peers.

Is it possible that the jingle is not an appropriate advertising concept anymore?

May. 25 2010 10:03 PM
Rainer Hirt from Germany

@Georg: in my opinion it´s the Intel-Soundlogo

PS: there´s a growing community for this topic:

May. 25 2010 04:55 PM
Jeff from NYC

Where's the mp3 download?

May. 25 2010 08:15 AM


Thank you for mentioning Gaffigan's riff!
I used to work in an office where you could count on someone (incl. me) singing "Hot Pockets" ala Gaffigan at least a couple of times a day.
It always got a laugh or at least a smile.

May. 24 2010 02:50 PM
Celia from NYC

Jim Gaffigan has a great riff on one of the shortest micro-jingle: "Hot Pockets!":

my personal pick for most obnoxious jingle: Noodle-roni, Noodle-roni, the dinner that sets you free!Noodle-roni, Noodle-roni, a bit of old It-a-ly!

Once it gets in your stays there!

I have offered it as a cure when friends say they've got a song stuck in their head. I tell them "I have a cure, but the cure may be worse than the disease!"

I am dissapointed I didn't get to hear the Kent jingle..."Light up a Kent, you got a good thing going...light up a Kent...for real good taste!" Ah, they don't write them like that anymore!

May. 24 2010 02:45 PM
a g from nj

i guess BP is the company we can trust our oceans to? ms. palin could sing the jingle. moose soup anyone?

May. 24 2010 02:35 PM
Alyson from Prospect Heights

Instead of mentioning Mad Men as an inspiration for bringing back the jingle, you should mention Two and A Half Men. Charlie is a jingle composer.

May. 24 2010 02:34 PM
Case from Brooklyn

I find your lack of the "filet-o-fish" jingle... disturbing.

May. 24 2010 02:30 PM
Sam from Ridgewood, NJ

You can really trace the "sonic branding" back to leitmotifs in Wagner. These were short (1 to 3 measure) snippets that continued throughout the Ring Cycle (and every other opera he wrote).

May. 24 2010 02:28 PM

How do you think the move towards online advertising going to affect this trend?

May. 24 2010 02:25 PM
Mary in Montclair from Montclair, NJ

Like them or not, they are catching. Especially with my kids (13, 10, 5). They spout them and goof on them. How about that McDonald's filet fish jingle. "Give me that filet o fish. Give me that fish. OOOh!" Maddening, but boy can it crack us all up.

May. 24 2010 02:23 PM
freddy jenkins

the new Oscar Mayer sounds like they hired the Cocteau Twins

May. 24 2010 02:23 PM
a g from n j

a few yrs ago wrangler jeans used john fogartys "fortunate son" as a sort of rah-rah all american theme. the song is very much a critique of the mainstream political establishment. go figure.

May. 24 2010 02:20 PM
Glenn from Astoria

Speaking of odd origins for a commercial jingle, it was quite peculiar when American Express used a Spinal Tap song(Gimme Some Money) for their commercial. No doubt many of the people who saw this commercial knew the irony behind it.

May. 24 2010 02:19 PM

Sometimes it goes the other way...Richard Carpenter took a jingle from a bank and turned it into a chart topping song...We've only just begun.

May. 24 2010 02:19 PM

Can McDonalds take the credit for launching the rap craze? "Big Mac, Fillet of Fish / Quarter Pounder, French Fries / Icy Coke, xxx / Sundays and Apple Pie!!!"

May. 24 2010 02:18 PM
A.C. from Baltimore

Subway's jingle is so horrifyingly unpleasant...I mean, there's no actual melody. They just seem to be monotonously repeating the words "5 dollar footlong." Does a jingle actually have to be good to be effective?

May. 24 2010 02:13 PM
Jeb from Greenpoint

What about micro jingles like the Duracell or Pentium or NBC tones? Who invented that?

May. 24 2010 02:13 PM

Another good question: who has been the most successful jingle writers?

I recall Barry Manilow playing a medley of his jingles woven together on one of his live albums ("Kentucky Fried Chicken-- we do chicken right!" and "Like a good neighbor -- State Farm is there!")

May. 24 2010 02:12 PM
Jo from NY

I sing the subway song constantly! I think the branded jingle creates brand allegiance. I sing the song and its part of my life even if i dont eat there.

May. 24 2010 02:10 PM
Juli from Skillman, NJ

Goodie!! More work for Barry Manilow. :))

May. 24 2010 02:10 PM
a g from nj

the "good and plenty" [candy] ad of the sixties was an ear-worm on steroids from hell.

the chewing gum ad that featured herb alpert and the tijuana brass was pretty cool.

May. 24 2010 08:33 AM
George from Bay Ridge

What has been the most successful jingle ever?

May. 24 2010 05:17 AM

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