Thursday, February 23rd, 2012
[View the story "Time to re-brand the under-rated jingle?" on Storify]
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Tags: radio advertising branding, radio jingle branding, radio jingles, radio signature, sonic branding radio, sound signature
Planning Director at Radio Advertising Bureau. Here are my thoughts on the Commercial Radio industry.
I agree with you Mark. ‘Jingle’ is now a pretty dirty word in advertising, and has often also tended to be associated with fairly poor creative over the years. “We buy any car dot com” is a good recent example of that. Memorable? Yes. Uninspiring? Certainly.
There’s always the tension between creativity and effectiveness, but in the world of jingles you can get both.
Moving on from your 70s examples, in the 80s we had ‘First Time’ by Robin Beck which started life as a really effective ‘Brand Song’ for Coke and morphed into a Number 1 hit single. Likewise the ‘Bodyform’ Brand Song was a great piece of music that really connected well. I bet you’re singing it in your head right now!
And coming right up to date, the Yeo Valley campaign with a complete Brand Song and brilliant pastiche pop video is a great example of creativity and effectiveness combined.
So it can be done!
At my new company Bounce, where we make music, sound and content for brands… we’re also keen to ‘re-brand the jingle’ and show it in a more positive light. So if any advertisers want a more contemporary interpretation of a jingle or ‘Brand Song’, they should get in touch!
The US madmen mantra was always “if brand awareness is an issue, get a jingle” and they certainly stick with you and do a job.
The one that has stuck with me is this 1986 Britvic 55 rap http://youtu.be/JZUUj-nTOMQ
The more recent Brand Song I like is Hondas’ ‘Hate Something, Change Something’ http://youtu.be/VwRCBHhyrAA
Heard across TV, Radio and online I think, and was also made into a parody/spoof on Xfm
An effective recent radio only example would be Jo@Global’s rewriting of Vindaloo for B&Q Trade Point (probably in the RAB archive), I’ve actually seen a whitevanman singing along to it on Talksport
I have been composing jingles on and off for years and these days I specialise in it. (http://www.dancingbear.co.uk)
I think rebranding would be counter productive – it only serves to try and fool creative directors who have become almost madly anti-jingle.
The clients themselves are a a different matter. Sales execs go to the client promising a “music ident” or perhaps your “brand song” idea, but when they come back they say “the client wants a jingle!”
Some advertising creatives may have lost connection with the jingle, but the clients haven’t. They may not be creative experts, but they listen to the radio and they watch TV, especially their competitors ads, and they hear what stands out, what works – we want some of that, they say. And if the competitor has a jingle, that is what they will want too.
They don’t even want a posh one or super clever one – cheesy is fine! You have looked at the seventies, but where you should really look is US radio from the 50s and 60s. That was the true golden age – 2 minute long jingles (that definitely were not songs) that changed style three or four times during the ad, with clear, in your face lyrics that left you in no doubt what the message was – buy me! “This is the year of the Lark” sang out the choir to help sell a pretty useless motor car that sold in their thousands.
Cheesy, silly, corny – they all work. Where it can fall down is if they are produced badly, especially the vocals. The trick with those old jingles was they sounded daft, but they were beautifully produced with great singers. I go to a lot of trouble, even with low paying clients, to make the most of the vocals – this is a jingle, not a backing track, the vocals must shine. Not just the actual words but plenty of ooohs, and ahhs and Heys! and Yeahs! 20 tracks of harmonies? Yep, go for it, the more the merrier. Makes the recording sessions fun too!
A jingle does not suit everyone, but by not selling them to the many, many companies that would benefit, we are serving them badly. A jingle can last for years, become part of the family that is the brand. They are like snow balls – they grow as they roll along, getting bigger and more powerful. Really, this is not just about jingles, this is about a loss of the very core lessons about what works and does not work when selling a product.
I have seen too many creatives telling their clients every couple of months that their creative needs “refreshing.” The only reason to revise creative is if it is simply not working – not because the creative is bored of it or just wants to sell more script ideas. If the creative idea, the jingle, is working, then leave it alone.
Let it build over time – when I write a jingle I try and do loads of variations to allow the client lots of versatility, take lots of different directions, especially if their brand has lots of complex layers like a large shop. But behind all those variations is the tune, the ditty, the jingle, and my singers – holding it all together, creating familiarity, entertaining the listener, bringing them on board.
Jingles have the power to build trust and loyalty in a brand without ever having to actually say “trust me” or “come again.”
The entire world knows about the power of the jingle. TV programmes refer to them, films love them – think of the film Demolition Man that envisaged a future where oldie stations played back to back jingles – writers write about them, the public love them like old friends, DJs whistle them, clients that just want to push their margins want them.
It seems that the only people that don’t get it are in advertising!
A nice article. However I think the term brand song needs a snappier definition. I suggest ‘brong’, or even ‘bringle’. Perfect for agency and client smart alecs everywhere.
“Everyone knew jingles made an ad campaign more memorable and therefore more efficient.” Really?
If you want to persuade someone of something you can take them down a dark alley and beat the crap out of them. They’ll certainly remember you. Jingles died out because the majority were simply awful. They were remembered – and hated. Even the half way decent ones sounded flimsy alongside the increasingly sophisticated production of the music that the radio stations were playing. (It’s worth noting that all the examples you have given are from television ads.) Someone once advised ‘If you’ve got something to say, say it. If you’ve got nothing to say, sing it” And that’s pretty much how most jingles used to sound.
There were some great music ads on radio – but most of those used songs borrowed from elsewhere. When the radio network expanded, so did the costs for the rights of using someone else’s song. It simply because too expensive for many clients.
There’s certainly an opportunity for a new look at the use of music (and soundtracks) in radio ads – but, please, let it be part of a considered creative treatment, not just as way of irritating your way into a poor, unsuspecting listener’s head.
Thanks for all the comments.
Joss, re-branding jingles to brand songs is an attempt to get people in advertising to consider them afresh, and understand how powerful they can be.
Mandy, yes there have been a lot of poor jingles but that doesn’t mean that all of them have to be bad.
The examples I referred to were all from TV commercials but they could have very easily run on radio as well, and been very effective I would wager. Radio ads don’t exist in isolation from other elements of the media schedule, and as Thinkbox’s recent Payback 3 study highlighted, when part of a media mix including TV, radio ads deliver a much better ROI when they are creatively aligned with the TV commercial.
Finally, our RadioGauge database built from measuring over 500 campaigns highlights that one of the biggest influencers of campaign effectiveness is creative consistency. A considered, well-produced brand song can deliver this, and build long term value for money from communications.
There are a huge number of jingles out there and they are still being made – the good ones work, the bad ones dont.
But that can be said of loads of creative ideas. How many clients have been persuaded into using the “Famous Voice” for their ad without being told that most people will never recognise who the voice is? How many times have script writers written wonderful, creative odysseys that sound great on a showreel but mean nothing to the person listening to the radio in their car trying to keep an eye on the road while their kids are screaming in the back seat?
Good ideas that take into account the clients needs and the listeners and are carefully produced will (with a bit of luck) do wonders for the client. That good idea could be a simple script, a Hollywood blockbuster or a jingle. The clever copywriter does not throw away a good idea because it is somehow not stylish enough for them – they choose what works for the client on that day and on that particular media.
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