Advertising agencies are rediscovering the value of the jingle, after a period where it seemed like licensing pop songs was the favored way of selling things. I suppose it depends on what you want your ad to do.
A jingle says “BUY NOW!” Take Subway’s “Five… Five… Five-dollar footlong” jingle: it doesn’t make you think of anything except long sandwiches of soggy bread with minimal meat and cheese on it. Whereas if you’re looking longterm, maybe selling a high-ticket item, an ad campaign with carefully curated music can be effective, and here the big example is Volkwagen. Using Nick Drake’s “Pink Moon,” followed by Trio’s nonsensical “Da Da Da,” and songs by Spiritualized, Stereolab, and even Charles Mingus, VW became a kind of musical taste-maker. Did it make anybody run out and buy a car? Probably not, but when my car died and I finally thought about seeing if I could do the grown-up thing and buy a new car, I did check out Volkswagen. (I bought a cheap used car from my brother instead. Just not that grown-up yet, I guess.)
And there’s the problem with licensed music – sometimes it’s more effective at marketing the song than the product (fine by me, but probably not by the client). A jingle? The “problem” there is a good jingle outlives its ad campaign. 35 years on, I still remember every ingredient in a McDonald’s Big Mac, and how to spell a famous bologna brand’s first and last names. Not a problem for the client, maybe, but with dozens of these little “earworms” burrowed deep into our brains, it’s definitely something we have to deal with.
What jingles have affected you, for better or worse? Leave a comment.