||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. The jingle contains one or more hooks and meaning that explicitly promote the product 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. Jingles are a form of sound branding. Many jingles are also created using snippets of popular songs, in which lyrics are modified to appropriately advertise the product or service.
The jingle had no definitive status: its infiltration of the radio was more of an evolutionary process than a sudden innovation. Product advertisements with a musical tilt can be traced back to 1923, around the same time commercial radio began in the United States. If one entity has the best claim to the first jingle it is General Mills, who aired the world's first singing commercial. The seminal radio bite, entitled "Have You Tried Wheaties?", was first sung over the air on Christmas Eve of 1926 in the Minneapolis–St. Paul radio market. It featured four male singers, who were eventually christened "The Wheaties Quartet", singing the following lines:
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, of the 53,000 cases of Wheaties breakfast cereal sold, 30,000 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.
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 will 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.
- MWOTRC: Metro Washington Old Time Radio Club
- http://www.generalmills.com/corporate/company/hist_radio.pdf[dead link]
- Audio Identities at imagedissectors.com, URL accessed September 3, 2010