Advertising Jingles

The AWESOME! page has random music stuff that I think is cool. You never know what you will find here!

Advertising has used music to help sell products since the beginning of commercial radio. Jingles established brand recognition – the best jingles became synonymous with the product it was selling, and sometimes they became part of culture itself. Radio stations and television networks often created their own jingles as a means of branding their stations. I’m sure that you can recall the call letters of your favorite radio station when you were growing up, and can sing along with the jingle that they used.

The first jingle dates to Christmas eve, 1926, when General Mills began to promote Wheaties on WCCO radio in Minneapolis. The lyrics were sung to the tune of a popular song of the day, She’s A Jazz Baby. They were sung by 4 male singers, who became known as The Wheaties Quartet. The lyrics were “Have you tried Wheaties? They’re whole wheat with all of the bran. Won’t you try Wheaties? For wheat is the best food of man.”

You’d be surprised who wrote jingles. Barry Manilow wrote 2 classics – I am stuck on Band-Aid, ’cause Band-Aid’s stuck on me; and Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there. Randy Newman wrote the Dr. Pepper classic Wouldn’t you wanna be a pepper too. The King of Jingles is Steve Karmen. Karmen is credited with writing dozens of jingles. You know these tunes – Nationwide is on your side; Give that man a Blue Ribbon; I love New York; Weekends were made for Michelob; Aren’t you glad you use Dial.

Alas, the jingle is not so popular anymore. In today’s advertising world, it is much more common for a brand to license a popular song when selling a product instead of a jingle. This has been around for many years – I grew up listening to Carly Simon’s Anticipation as the music for Heinz Ketchup, Bob Seger’s Like A Rock for Chevy Trucks and Marvin Gaye’s I Heard It Through The Grapevine for California Raisins. The idea of using songs instead of jingles really took hold after Michael Jackson started pitching Pepsi in 1984 and revised the chorus of Billie Jean to “You’re the Pepsi generation, guzzle down and taste the thrill of the day, and feel the Pepsi way.” The success of this campaign opened the door to many more advertising campaigns that used existing pop music instead of jingles.

Ad Age magazine, the bible of the advertising industry, selected You deserve a break today from McDonald’s as the top advertising jingle of the 20th century. In 2014, McDonald’s abandoned its trademark to the jingle after 43 years. Today, McDonald’s uses the jingle I’m Lovin’ It – co-written by Pharrell Williams in 2003. Justin Timberlake earned $6 million to sing the jingle and endorse McDonald’s.

There are lots of retro jingles on YouTube. Here’s a 10 minute clip from on their choice of the top 10 jingles of all time. Take the time to live in the past and sing along with these jingles that you remember so well.


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