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Jingles: the marmite of mnemonic devices

Sep 18, 2019
The Golden Age of advertising is hallmarked by the distinct ring of the jingle – one of the most effective tools a brand could wield in the 20th century. While it later fell out of fashion as brands ditched the ditties in favour of using popular music tracks, the tables have turned. Once again businesses are dancing to the tune of a sound as unique as their image – and if you listen carefully, you’ll hear the classic jingle re-emerge triumphant.
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The trailblazer responsible for igniting the jingle movement can be credited to Wheaties, all the way back in 1926. In an attempt to resurrect the flagging cereal brand, they released a radio jingle sung by local barbershop quartet. “Have you tried Wheaties?” It was short, sweet and simple – and it hooked the nation. Lo and behold, a new era of advertising was born. When done right, these short, catchy melodies can leave a long-lasting impression. Ask anyone to say the alphabet, and their A B Cs are sure to be accompanied by the tune we’re taught as toddlers – and jingles have the same effect. When you think of Toys R Us, many of us have the lyrics “I don’t wanna grow up, I’m a Toys R Us kid” embedded firmly in the mind. Likewise, you may not be able to enjoy a Cornetto without the memory of a serenading gondolier singing “just one cornetto, give it to me”. Even today, the success continues with McDonald’s timeless classic “ba da ba ba ba… I’m lovin’ it” conjuring up images of their golden arches.
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From the height of the jingle’s popularity to the dying legacy it’s leaving behind, its power far surpasses that of imagery. As quoted by Dave Trott, “You can’t repeat visuals in the street... if someone whistles [your song], and it triggers it in someone else’s mind, you’re not paying for it. How words get carried along by music – what we now trivialize by calling it a jingle. Actually, it’s a really sensible use of a mnemonic”. Today’s oversaturated market gives people an increasing amount of choice about what they switch on and off to – but jingles manage to burrow in the brain. They have the power to cut through the pollution of ads, creating brand experiences in situations other mediums can’t target – such as when you’re in the kitchen doing dishes and hear a familiar tinkle on the TV... or pass a kid humming a tune on the street.

Love them or hate them – like the Marmite of mnemonic devices – jingles have proven their efficacy over the last century. Even when they’re deemed annoying, it only increases their effectiveness – striking a chord with the nation, whether good or bad – so it’s embedded deep within the memory. Take Go Compare’s tenor opera-singer. It’s one of the most memorable jingle adverts of the modern day, even if it’s considered one of the most irritating. And just last year, Liberty Mutual's jingle (a repetition of 'Liberty' four times to a catchy tune), hit the top of Veritonic's Audio Logo Index for its 'simplicity and stickiness.'
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While jingles have not yet shed their uncool reputation, sound is the trend on everyone’s lips. In their prime, they were effective vocal hooks that people recognised and remembered. This is something that businesses are eager to tap into in the age of ad-blocking – and a far more credible way to achieve this is with exclusive music. Carefully composed to reflect a company identity, this track lodges itself in people's minds in much the same way, with the melody becoming an instant indicator of their product or service.

In many ways, the Brand-Sound-Track™ is the jingle of the 21st century - and every business can discover the benefits of the earworm.