Jingles all away
Sing along with me now: Happy peanuts soar over chocolate covered mountain tops and waterfalls of caramel. Prancing nougat in the meadow sings a song of satisfaction to the world. (Whisper) The world.
Okay, granted the Snickers song was popular over a year ago, but there's a reason why I remember the lyrics so wistfully. It was perhaps the last time I had heard a song in a commercial that was catchy, memorable and best of all, informative about the product.
Why, the last time I became so enamored of a spot was years before when those prosimian spongmonkeys with the human mouths and hats screeched out, "We love the subs!" for Quiznos. Sorry, but that's just genius right there.
It wasn't until I was testing my co-worker's knowledge of the Big Red chewing gum jingle (Hint: Your fresh breath goes on and on while you chew it) that I realized most of truly great jingles are a thing of the past. Oh, we can have the local car dealerships try to hawk their wares with a little homespun ditty, and In 'N' Out still is what a hamburger is all about, but do we really sing the Outback Steakhouse song in our cars (complete with didgeridoo)? I don't.
There are many reasons why the jingle is going the way of the dodo. Well, that's a little extreme. Let's say the California condor because they're still around, but their presence isn't really felt. First is just that jingles are inherently cheesy. That's why the best ones arrived before the '90s. Here's a sampling:
Oreo cookies (Christmas edition)
Oscar Mayer Bologna
Dr. Pepper (epic and long!)
McDonald's Big Mac (UK version sung in a round!)
Heck, even anger management Andy (Ed Helms) from The Office was haunted by the jingle for ... what is it? It goes like this, "Give me a break, give me a break. Break me off a piece of that --" well, he couldn't quite recall.
The newer, hipper products are also choosing to use real songs that get radio play to reach a specific demographic and to show that they're current. And for the most part, I can get pulled in just as deeply by these spots. Two that come to mind are the haunting "1,2,3,4" by Feist for the iPod Nano
and Ingrid Michaelson's romantic "The Way I Am" for Old Navy. (If you are chilly, here take my sweater/'Cause I-I-I lo-o-o-ove the way you call me baby.).
But here's the thing: Even though I was singing those snippets and rushed to my laptop to figure out who sang those songs so I could buy 'em, I didn't end up purchasing an iPod Nano or Fair Isle sweater, now did it? I didn't even remember the specific products until I looked up the spots on YouTube. Maybe those old-fashioned jingles had something there ...
I guess crafting an original song for a commercial can be time-consuming and dicey given that many of us don't watch commercials anymore. I admit to skipping through most after acquiring my DVR or even watching episodes online. This is why product placement is becoming the norm -- from promoting 27 Dresses on Ugly Betty to Sour Patch Kids on Kyle XY.
Alas, I do mourn a nice jingle, but I'll be satisfied if a Snickers Song or Quiznos Spongmonkey bit of genius hits the tube every other year or so. I just hope I'll be watching.
What current jingles have I missed? Have any favorites from the past?