The examples and perspective in this article deal primarily with the United States and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (May 2009)
A jingle is a short song or tune used in advertising and for other commercial uses. Jingles are a form of sound branding. A jingle contains one or more hooks and meaning that explicitly promote the product or service being advertised, usually through the use of one or more advertising slogans. Ad buyers use jingles in radio and television commercials; they can also be used in non-advertising contexts to establish or maintain a brand image. Many jingles are also created using snippets of popular songs, in which lyrics are modified to appropriately advertise the product or service.
Have you tried Wheaties?
They're whole wheat with all of the bran.
Won't you try Wheaties?
For wheat is the best food of man.
They're crispy and crunchy
The whole year through,
The kiddies never tire of them
and neither will you.
So just try Wheaties,
The best breakfast food in the land.
The Wheaties advertisement, with its lyrical hooks, was seen by its owners as extremely successful. According to one account, General Mills had seriously planned to end production of Wheaties in 1929 on the basis of poor sales. Soon after the song "Have you tried Wheaties?" aired in Minnesota, however, sales spiked there. Of the 53,000 cases of Wheaties breakfast cereal sold, 40,000 were sold in the Twin Cities market. After advertising manager Samuel Chester Gale pointed out that this was the only location where "Have You Tried Wheaties?" was being aired at the time, the success of the jingle was accepted by the company. Encouraged by the results of this new method of advertising, General Mills changed its brand strategy. Instead of dropping the cereal, it purchased nationwide commercial time for the advertisement. The resultant climb in sales single-handedly established the "Wheaties" brand nationwide.
After General Mills' success, other companies began to investigate this new method of advertisement. Initially, the jingle circumvented the ban on direct advertising that the National Broadcasting Company, dominant broadcasting chain, was trying to maintain at the time. A jingle could get a brand's name embedded in the heads of potential customers even though it did not fit into the definition of "advertisement" accepted in the late 1920s.
The art of the jingle reached its peak around the economic boom of the 1950s. The jingle was used in the advertising of branded products such as breakfast cereals, candy, snacks, soda pop, tobacco, and beer. Various franchises and products aimed at the consumers' self-image, such as automobiles, personal hygiene products (including deodorants, mouthwash, shampoo, and toothpaste), and household cleaning products, especially detergent, also used jingles.
In August 2016, The Atlantic reported that in the United States, the once popular jingle was now being replaced by advertisers with a mixture of older and recent pop music to make their commercials memorable. In 1998, there were 153 jingles in a sample of 1,279 national commercials; by 2011, the number of jingles had dropped to eight jingles out of 306 commercials.
Long running jingles
One of the longest running jingles is for McCormick Foods' Aeroplane Jelly. Composed in Australia before 1943, the jingle has been used in advertising well into the 21st century. During the '40s, it made itself famous, or infamous, as it was played more than 100 times a day on some stations.
Most often the term "radio jingles" can be used to collectively describe all elements of radio station branding or identification. Accurately the term in the context of radio used to describe only those station branding elements which are musical, or sung. Sung jingles are the most common form of radio station branding otherwise known as imaging. A radio jingle therefore is created in a studio by session singers and includes a musical representation of the radio station name and frequency. Radio stations will sub contract to specialist radio jingle producers who will create the musical sound and melody, along with the recording the session singers. The elements, termed a donut, will then be dispatched to the radio station in various time variations to be edited by local radio producers before being broadcast in between songs, or into and out of commercial breaks. Alternatively, jingles can be made in-house by production staff.
When commissioned to write jingles, writers will sometimes create all aspects of the jingle: music, lyrics, performance and recording. In this case, the writer may be paid for these aspects as well as a flat fee. And although the advertiser receives rights free of writer royalty, sometimes the writer will try to retain performance rights. In most cases the writer retains no rights whatsoever. In other cases, advertisers purchase jingles in package deals from producers specializing in jingles. The writers working for these producers receive a salary and do not retain rights. The rights belong to the producer, who may sell them to an advertiser.
- General Mills history of innovation Radio and TV (archived link, 15 February 2010)
- MWOTRC: Metro Washington Old Time Radio Club
- Stanley, Tiffany (2016-08-29). "What Killed the Jingle?". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2016-08-31.
- "Aeroplane Jelly Song". Australian Screen. National Film and Sound Archive of Australia. Retrieved 19 August 2018.
- Audio Identities Archived 2013-02-14 at the Wayback Machine at imagedissectors.com, URL accessed September 3, 2010
- The Ad Station
- In house jingle production Archived 2013-05-24 at the Wayback Machine at talkingnewspaper.org.uk, URL accessed August 20, 2015
- Krasilovsky. W: ”This Business of Music”, page 288. Billboard Books, 2000