July 25, 2008 / 11:04 PM / 11 years ago

Jingles back in favor with advertisers

NEW YORK (Billboard) - Here comes the jingle — updated, modernized and looking for its close-up.

The once inescapable form of advertising has popped up in campaigns from two large marketers and will also be applied to a range of brands on an upcoming TV show.

Chicago-based confection maker the William Wrigley Jr. Co. will announce Tuesday (July 29) that it has commissioned Ne-Yo, Chris Brown and Julianne Hough to remix its signature jingles.

Brown will sing the Double Mint jingle, Ne-Yo will tackle Big Red, and Hough will be paired with Juicy Fruit. IPG’s Translation Advertising, the New York advertising agency headed by former Interscope executive Steve Stoute in partnership with Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, this week will launch an advertising campaign that uses the new jingles.

Meanwhile, McDonald’s recently named the winner of a contest to remix one of its jingles from the 1970s, “Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame seed bun.”

Jason Harper from Boynton Beach, Florida, beat out more than 1,000 other contestants with his version. “For a long time people went away from jingles. I think the pendulum is swinging back and will settle somewhere in the middle,” McDonald’s chief creative officer Marlena Peleo-Lazar said. “There might be a new expression of the jingle — it just won’t be like we remember it.”

McDonald’s has brought back the “two all-beef patties” jingle twice before, once in 1996 and again in 2003. But this time it is being used much more extensively. And the company hasn’t ruled out resurrecting other jingles. “You never know; it depends on the project,” Peleo-Lazar said.

On CBS, jingles are getting their own network TV forum. Kiss frontman and reality TV star Gene Simmons is one of the judges on the “Apprentice”-style show “Jingles,” from “Survivor” producer Mark Burnett. On the show, which does not have yet have an airdate, contestants will vie for a $100,000 grand prize by writing jingles for real products. Kimberly Caldwell, a finalist on the second season of “American Idol,” is slated to host.

So why are jingles making a comeback? And why did they fade away in the first place?


Steve Karmen, a legendary jingle writer behind 1969’s “Call Nationwide, ‘cause nationwide is on your side,” which is still in use today, thinks he knows why.

“Jingles went away because the ad business is too lazy to think for itself. The easy way to get music is to punch in lyrics into a computer and then say, ‘What can we match that with?”‘ said the outspoken author of the 2005 book “Who Killed the Jingle? How a Unique American Art Form Disappeared.”

“When you move away from something that names your product to something that doesn’t, you’re not advertising a product — you’re advertising a song,” Karmen said.

Karmen, who wrote jingles for Wrigley’s Spearmint Gum years ago, thinks such companies are returning to their pasts because the jingle is instantly evocative of an earlier, perhaps better, time. “Wrigley’s is going back to its old music because it’s their music, and it is instantly identified with them,” he said.

Joel Simon, CEO/president of New York music production company JSM Music, sees the transition from the jingle to the music used in today’s commercials as a reaction to the polished structure of the jingles of old. “What happened isn’t that music changed. Those jingles were incredibly musical,” he said. “The marketers, advertising agencies and the brands felt that it was time to grunge (or) dirty it up.”

Today, music houses rarely, if ever, create what would be considered a traditional jingle. They’re more likely to take a piece of contemporary music and customize lyrics that evoke the product. JSM Music, for example, does the music for Kay Jewelers ads, which always include the sung line, “Every kiss begins with K,” and “Come and get your love” for phone maker Alltel.

“It’s not that I don’t do jingles — it’s just that I don’t do things called ‘jingles,”‘ Simon said. “It’s the same music, just a different approach.”


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