Ahh, the jingle. It’s one of the staples of radio advertising. In fact, when you think back to radio production of yesteryear, the use of jingles in radio commercials takes us to a place where some of the most memorable radio spots were ever created. And of course television too. What was it about those jingles in radio commercials that made them so memorable? And why is the use of jingles today so…well…lame?
I would argue that the use of jingles back then was more thought out than today. Marketing managers knew how to infuse the memorability of the jingle with the important brand attributes of the product. The jingle was a part of the radio advertising and overall marketing mix from the beginning, and not just some radio production after-thought. There was no “hummm..I think we need a jingle”. Why? “I don’t know…it would be cool”. Jingles back then were not afterthoughts because creating jingles was a major production undertaking. There were no computer workstations with built in sequencers and virtual synths. There were real composers and real musicians all packed into a studio at one time. The jingles for radio spots were all custom written, and not just picked from a list of templates to insert ‘name’ and ‘slogan’ into a generic melody. And don’t even get me started about media outlets that offer “free” jingles with the purchase of a certain amount of advertising air time. Local TV advertising is littered with cookie-cutter melodies, campy slogans, and a hodge-podge of template filled jingles where phrases like “Womens’ Laparoscopy Center of Houston…where we treat you like family and get you on your way with lap ban surgery during your lunch break” are crammed into a four beat melody.
Now, I’m not old school by any means. But the effective jingle is somewhat of a lost art in radio advertising. Replaced in radio commercial production by custom music beds – which are very cool, don’t get me wrong. But imagine, what a melodic hook can do for you when custom written. A commercial that doesn’t sound like any other spot. Imagine the brand recognition when your radio spot has staying power amongst listeners. The kind of hook that keeps you from shaking that radio spot out of your head all day long. I just read an article in a business magazine about a garage band who writes, sings, plays and records thirty second songs for products and companies. That’s cool! The jingle has been revolutionized.
My point to this rant about jingles in radio advertising, is to NOT be afraid to use them. But use them correctly! Go to a jingle company that will create something from scratch. Work with the writers and musicians to create something unique and original. Yes, it costs a bit more, but think of the return on that investment with the right jingle, and the right message. Couple that with solid media placement and marketing strategy (plus great radio production), and you have something worthy of your company. Create something that captures the essence of your brand. And stay away from templates…or else you may just hear your precious jingle on someone else’s bariatric surgery spot…barf!