The Power of Jingles
Would you like to buy the world a Coke? Maybe keep it company?
Coca Cola’s homage to hippy culture has lived many lives. Originally, the airy, hug-n-feel-goodness of the tune and images wasn’t well-received by two groups. First, flag-waving, apple-pie-loving conservatives saw it as Coke abandoning its place as an iconic beverage choice of patriots and their families. The other group, the streams of youth decried as “hippies,” saw it as another example of corporate America trying to capitalize on their moment. But the jingle outlasted both. Even remerging over the years. Most recently as the a-ha moment for Don Draper in the finale of Mad Men. Love or hate them, jingles are as much a part of culture today as they were back in biblical times. I mean isn’t the Psalm of David a lyrical pitch for the benefits of belief?
Yes, the advertising jingle has a long, strange history of generating earworms for the masses. The challenge? As with any piece of advertising, it’s to make it memorable. I can remember several from my childhood that have lived word-for-word and rent-free in my head for decades now. The little kid with his fishing rod on the dock singing “My bologna has first name. It’s O-S-C-A-R. My bologna has a second name, it’s M-A-Y-E-R. Oh, I love to eat it every day, and if you ask me why I’ll say, cause’ Oscar Mayer has a way with B-O-L-O-G-N-A!” That one ran frequently during The Wonderful World of Disney. Or, during Saturday morning cartoons, how the Transformers were more than meets the eye. Spoiler alert. They were robots in disguise. And immediately took top seat on the Christmas list.
Now that I’ve dated myself, a more contemporary example would be the jingle’s hipster grandchild: the sting. The jingle in a concentrated form. Short. Catchy. Memorable. I’m sure if I sang “like a good neighbour” that most of you could finish with “State Farm is there.” In 2003, McDonald’s partnered with Justin Timberlake to launch their new “I’m lovin’ it” campaign. The sting, once sung, now lives in its 18th year as a riffed interpretation recognized around the world. Hard to dispute its reach. But its effectiveness? That’s the real juice.
There’s an old cliché about advertising. That no matter how good or bad an ad is, if you remember it, it has done its job. This is just not true. Have you ever taken a mouthful of curdled milk before? Is it a fond milk memory for you? The goal of any good piece of marketing or brand campaign is interaction. Physically. Emotionally. They aim to be a part of your life.
The problem with working in a results-driven industry is that it’s hard to add a hard number to the culture around a brand. Did Coke sell more Coke because they sang of buying the world a Coke? No doubt. But the bigger win in this situation, in any situation where a brand’s jingle or sting becomes a part of mainstream culture, is that you created brand influence. Recognition. It’s part of the contemporary and therefore accepted. Loved. And, most importantly, engaged with. There’s no line in the spreadsheet for that.
Creative Director, m5
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