Most of us will concede that tv commercials are a necessary evil and some are grateful for the high tech ways we have of blocking them. Usually I just hit the mute button and read or do something else until my show comes back on. Can you blame me? Why would I want to hear someone wax eloquent (or not) on the merits of personal hygiene products, wart removal remedies or toilet paper? Also, the advertised prescription medicines come with so many dire warnings of side effects that only the brave or foolhardy would consider trying them. Granted, some of these ads are very clever—Madison Avenue does get its multi-billion dollars’ worth—but for the most part they are not memorable or fun.
Although some commercials have music, it seems as if the time for humming along with really catchy jingles has come and gone. I must confess, I liked some of those jingles. Who remembers “You’ll wonder where the yellow went, when you brush your teeth with Pepsodent?” How about the Chiquita Banana song , the California Raisins singing “Heard it Through the Grapevine or the Good ‘N’ Plenty candy ad with ‘CHARlie says’?” One of my absolute favorites, though, has to be the 197os Oscar Mayer bologna commercial, with the cutest little kid imaginable. Have a listen.
If you’re old(er) and just want to reminisce or young(er) and need a good laugh, go to www.youtube.com and check out “Classic Commercial Jingles 50s 60s.” Another great website for browsing is www.squidoo.com/tv-commercials-we-cannot-forget. An older book that is still available and gives some of the ins and outs of jingle writing is Through the Jingle Jungle. The book jacket alone is amusing enough to make you want to check it out.
There are some commercials which, even without a jingle, have become virtually iconic, such as Wendy’s “Where’s the beef?” For a very long time that phrase was used to question anything that did not appear to be genuine and Clara Peller, the little old gray-haired lady who uttered it, made it famous. Joining it in the advertising Hall of Fame are “Time to make the donuts,” “Leggo my Eggo” and “Calgon take me away.”
For those folk who can’t carry a tune in a basket or have no interest in mindlessly humming inane melodies but are interested in the world of advertising and its impact on us, you can take a look at these books: Adcult USA:The Triumph of Advertising in American Culture, Advertising Slogans of America, The Ultimate Marketing Toolkit and 20 Ads That Shook the World.
Advertising, whether on television, the radio, a billboard or bus, is designed to make you want to try whatever product or service is being touted. While the ad may be spectacular and extravagant (Times Square) or a cardboard curb sign, the aim is still for you to remember it. What makes something memorable for people is very individual—and perhaps generational. We are now so bombarded with music at every turn that a jingle almost seems excessive. However until Tide or AllState, Bounty or Clairol put their ads to music and invite me to hum along, I’ll probably continue to hit the mute button. How about you?