What is a Jingle?
According to our friends at Oxford, a Jingle is “a short slogan, verse, or tune designed to be easily remembered, especially as used in advertising.” They probably should have added, “once heard, it will relentlessly and annoyingly pop into your mind for the rest of the day.”
Some of the most memorable jingles are the ones we heard growing up. We’re not sure if that’s because they were more common, or because of our younger, impressionable minds. To be sure, we are easily affected by these.
Why do Jingles Work?
The short answer is that psychologists are not sure why, but they suspect that it’s the melody’s repetition that is at work on neural circuits within the human brain. These tiny, 15- to 30-second pieces of music affect the brain on an emotional level and music with a strong emotional connection to the listener is harder to forget.
ThinkFives researched the top jingles over the last 50 years and propose this list as the Top 5. Check back in an hour or two and see if you are still humming one of these.
Oscar Mayer Bologna
“My bologna has a first name, it’s O-s-c-a-r. My bologna has a second name, it’s M-a-y-e-r.” and “I wish I was an Oscar Mayer Weiner.”
The original Wiener ad is from 1965, and the bologna ad followed shortly after. Both are classics, and with well over a million combined page views on YouTube. So even if you are not a child of the 60’s, there’s a good chance this festive (annoying?) jingle will live on through new generations.
Toys “R” Us
“I don’t wanna grow up, I’m a Toys ‘R’ Us kid. There’s a million toys at Toys ‘R’ Us that I can play with!”
Alas, the favorite store of many in childhood, Toys R Us, filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2017 and — after failing to find a buyer to help refinance the company’s mounting debt — ultimately shuttered and liquidated all 700-plus stores in an emotional farewell.
While the stores are no more, the company did leave us with a jingle that will be timeless. There’s a very important reason not to age: If you grew up, you couldn’t be a Toys “R” Us kid. We can of course browse Amazon’s toy section – but is that really the same?
Chili’s Baby Back Ribs
“I want my baby back, baby back, baby back, I want my baby back, baby back, baby back ribs…”
Is there anyone who hasn’t heard this jingle? Introduced in the late 90s, retired in 2006, reintroduced in 2009, and brought back for Chili’s 40th anniversary celebration, the jingle has been on TV more often than it hasn’t been.
Written in 5 minutes by a marketing expert (it took that long?), university research in 2006 showed it was the jingle most often stuck in the minds of students. Somehow we think that’ll also be the case 50 years from now. Interesting sidenote: the writer has never had Chili’s baby back ribs, not even to this day.
McDonald’s Big Mac
“Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame-seed bun!”
In this classic commercial for McDonald’s – and #2 on our list – a mix of people give it their best and show what a mouthful the Big Mac’s ingredients are. Unable to list all of them, the lyrics and music of the jingle show a great way to remember them, “two all-beef patties…”
“I’d like to teach the world to sing In perfect harmony. I’d like to buy the world a Coke and keep it company. That’s the real thing.”
Can a jingle become a worldwide phenomenon? Well, that’s exactly what happened with Coke and I’d Like to Teach the World. Coke came up with the idea to put a bunch of people on a hillside holding Coke bottles and singing an inspirational song. They found a song in the archive library of one of their music contractors and the rest as they say is history.
Within a week of the first airing, Coke received 10,000 letters from the public, asking where they might find copies of the music. That month, the artists went back to the studios (scrubbed the Coke references) and recorded a longer version. The song went to No. 1 at Christmas and it sold a million copies in less than 10 days.
- Meow Mix: “Meow, meow, meow, meow. Meow, meow, meow, meow.”
- Kit Kat Bar: “Gimme a break, gimme a break, break me off a piece of that Kit Kat bar.”
- Alka-Seltzer: “Plop plop, fizz fizz, oh what a relief it is.”
- Folgers: “The best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup.”
- Rice-a-Roni, the San Francisco treat. (1961) – Rice-a-Roni
What is your favorite commercial jingle?