Do Jingles Work?
In July's Business-Standard, Seema Sindhu asked Indian advertisers if Jingles work (Do signature tunes for brands work?)
The power of the jingle is not just immediate aural stimulation –ear candy– but it's ability to continue stimulating the inner workings of our minds long after the commercial has ended and even after we've turned the television or radio off. In this respect, a good jingle can be measured by it's potential to work as Ear Worm, i.e. little tunes that get stuck in your mind.
The Wikipedia definition of Ear Worm provides us with this amusing example:
A Calvin And Hobbes strip had Calvin's dad getting up from an armchair and pausing vacantly, before asking his wife, "Why is it that I can recall a cigarette ad jingle from 25 years ago, but I can't remember what I just got up to do?"
Good jingles have such infectious melodies that they bounce around our brain and even drive us a bit mad. Even when we think we've finally purged them from memory, they emerge as we stroll down the supermarket aisle or whenever we consider a purchase.
I for one can't buy a 7-Up without thinking that "It's an Up thing".
Kudos to Mary Wood of Frisbie Music and Clifford Lane for managing to make the same indelible impression on my brain (with that 1996 jingle) as Bach and the Beatles.
Sindhu writes that jingles are making a comeback with South Asian companies like Bajaj, Titan, Kingfisher, Nirma and Airtel –all of whom he notes are using their old jingles in new campaigns.
The difference between today, and say, the mid twentieth century –arguably the golden age for jingles (and pop music in general)– is as Prasoon Joshi, executive chairman (India) and regional executive creative director (Asia Pacific), McCann-Erickson, says:
"Today, the entertainment quotient in life has gone up. TV, films, online, ringtones, the options are endless. The shelf life of a campaign or an ad has gone down. The ‘melodious' tune, be it in films or ads, which takes its time to gently make way to your heart is a rarity for these reasons."
When jingles do make an impression though, it's not simply because their melodies are memorable, but because they serve to deliver products and services which we actually find useful in our lives.
Bobby Pawar, chief creative officer, Mudra group, says:
"Audio signatures, such as Titan's Mozart score or Airtel's tune composed by AR Rahman..." don't just sing the virtues of their respective products, but are "...also driven by a strong idea..."
Whatever you think of jingles –and some people write them off as cheesy artifacts that have no place in contemporary advertising– jingles continue to have enormous potential as tools to cultivate relationships between brands and consumers.
–Not to mention between Bands and Fans: What's a ringtone anyway, but a jingle for a recording artist's hit single, or even their entire catalog?
It may seem we hear little of jingles these days, but the truth is they never went away. More often than not, advertisers get them ready made from pop stars, in the way of licensed tracks, instead of commissioning wholly new tunes from composers.
A lot of creative people on both sides of the arrangement think this trend is mutually beneficial, and it can be. There's nothing wrong with providing new revenue streams for bands –or brands.
The downside is strictly for those who compartmentalize the arts as either Fine or Commercial. Any marriage of media diminishes the power of its component parts, often transforming any isolated visual into a 'frame' and any song into, quite simply, well, a jingle.