Tha’ Jingle Is Back, Jack

Surprise. The art of the advertising jingle seems to be making a comeback. It was inevitable of course – jingles used to drive advertising like unforgettable melodic whips of pure brand essence. Any brand that really wanted to ascend needed a memorable logo, a snappy tagline, and a jingle by golly. Somewhere along the way though, the notion of jingles began to stink like Limburger. Who knows why? Maybe it was because the jingles themselves became too cheesy or because our entertainment-savvy nation just became too cool for school. Jingles possessed a clean, mid-60’s polish and an overtly orchestrated brand message that somehow begged to be mocked. They were relics leftover from a time of advertising innocence, and somehow even the grandest of them seemed old and tired next to the grungy newness of MTV. Almost overnight, the jingle became a dinosaur. And advertising ran from it like the plague. But as with fashion, everything comes around again. The jingle is back, and it’s wearing tatts.

During its time sealed up in an iron mask and kept alive with bread and water, the erstwhile jingle managed to change its entire tune, suddenly throwing off its dowdy image and re-emerging as a playa.’  Case in point: Chris Brown’s new take on the classic “double your pleasure” jingle for Wrigley’s Doublemint Gum. He’s one of three new artists to reprise famous jingles for Wrigley’s, alongside Ne-Yo and Julianne Hough. Not only has he re-imagined the 30 second jingle version for use in television spots that begin airing next month, but he and Wrigley’s have partnered to create an extended four and-a-half minute version that quickly rose to number four on Billboard’s Hot 100. I have to agree, it’s pretty infectious. Entitled Forever, Mr. Brown’s tune is thoroughly modern and original, but its “street personality” is tempered by the smiling essence of a product that is in every way fresh scrubbed and all-American. In my opinion, it’s just the right mix. The video begins with Mr. Brown unwrapping a stick of Wrigley’s Doublemint Gum and popping it into his mouth. Nothing overbearing there, and nothing that couldn’t be perceived as completely natural to the scene. Later, the ode to gum swishes through almost undetectably: “It’s like I’ve waited my whole life – for this one night. It’s gonna’ be me, you and a dance floor. Cause we only got one life – double your pleasure, double your fun…” Slick. And not surprising, since the work was handled by New York agency Translation. That shop is a partnership between former Interscope exec Steve Stoute and Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, so the understanding of what it takes to make pop really rock is sort of built in.

New and improved!

Forever isn’t your father’s jingle. In fact, the jingly feel isn’t even there. I haven’t heard the 30 second product version yet, but I’m assuming it will be at least somewhat more gum oriented – in fact, it’s entirely possible the new version will be word for word like the original Doublemint jingle. No matter, because the airplay version of the song will have already provided critical artistic credibility. That’s a very different take, because jingles as the world once knew them were unvarnished ditties designed specifically to place the name of a product and the product benefit onto the tongues of consumers. It worked incredibly well for a long time, and some of the best jingles are still as memorable as any piece of popular music:

Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t. Almond Joy’s got nuts – Mounds don’t. Almond Joy’s got real milk chocolate – coconut and munchy nuts too. Mounds got deep dark chocolate and chewy coconut, ooh! Sometimes you feel like a nut (yeah, yeah, yeah), sometimes you don’t. Peter Paul Almond Joy’s got nuts, Peter Paul Mounds don’t (because), sometimes you feel like a nut – sometimes you don’t!

Now that’s old-school jingle writing, baby. This classic manages to push the names of two different products three times each – and the last round even includes the product manufacturer! The bennie for each product is loud and clear too – nuts, no nuts. We get it. But here’s the thing: Over the last thirty years, the industry has progressed. Advertisers moved from overt, flat-footed pitches to mood pieces that were hardly about the product at all, then to pop song rips (Burger King, I’m looking at you). Now, the industry is emerging with the ability to deftly build a compelling pitch into hit music. That’s new, and it sets the stage for a whole new wave of product marketing.

Wait for it – Outrage! Panic in the streets!

Ah, but no good marketing story can be complete without a boycott. Apparently, many blogs and message boards are now being filled with outrage over the success of Forever. Somehow, music fans are feeling duped by the fact that Wrigley’s was behind a pop song that climbed its way to number four. Please! Outraged? Why? That’s what marketing does, people! It gives us delicious little bits of candy so we like products more. This is nothing new. It’s as old as advertising itself. Who do you think brought the Peanuts gang to television, anyway? It was J. Walter Thompson and the Ford Motor Company in 1961, when Ford convinced the pint sized cartoons to hawk the new Ford Falcon (yes, a nice link to the spot on YouTube is at the end of the article). America didn’t mind, because they loved Peanuts. And that single entre’ led to upwards of 30 televised Peanuts specials – including “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” See? Everybody wins.

Save us from the advertising! Save us from the advertising!

Advertising and pop entertainment have been entwined for a half century and now people are upset about it? Get over it. Forever is a nice song, and if you enjoyed it yesterday, feel free to enjoy it today. Americans invited brand advertising into the house long ago, and it’s here to stay. There are a lot of ways to look at this latest endeavor, but I can’t see any reason to be angry about it. No gum was hurt in the filming of Forever, and I’m not aware of any way that Wrigley’s has contributed to the downfall of society. Every new generation of people represents a new opportunity for brands like Wrigley’s, and they’ve simply learned to speak a new language.

After a recent audio session at R!OT Atlanta, I had the opportunity to speak with Audio Engineer Erich Netherton. I asked him about the resurrection of the mighty jingle, and he had an interesting perspective: “Is it really new when you’re just re-mixing and re-recording the old jingles that already have brand equity? It feels a little bit like the music business – just re-hashing the same old things that have proven to be hit-worthy. On the other hand, how many kids today even know those old tunes? If Snoop Dogg records it, it’s all new to them.” He has a point, and it seems the jingle has returned with a vengeance. Survivor producer Mark Burnett is just about to trot out a new show on CBS where contestants compete for a $100,000 grand prize writing jingles for real products. And don’t forget that McDonald’s just made a contest out of the opportunity to re-mix the “two all beef patties” jingle for the Big Mac. Oh, the hits just keep coming. It should be fun to see what’s next.

I’ve included more than the usual number of interesting and pertinent pieces that supplement this article. I’d love to hear your opinion on the state of the jingle too. Comment at will. – Alan

Real jingles from the 60s!

Props to Webmaster Carl Hoffman for these great original finds, and thanks for your service to our nation.

Carl Hoffman of Carrollton, TX. Retired U.S. Army veteran and 60's historian

Billboard on Chris Brown, Ne-Yo and Julianne Hough

The Wall Street Journal on the new Wrigley’s pieces

Singer Chris Brown

Reuters article on the new Wrigley’s jingles

The article on Translation

Chris Brown’s number four-charting Forever video on the cool new

Boycotting Wrigley’s! Blogs up in arms.

Animation Master Bill Melendez blogs on his longtime partnership with Charles Schultz and Peanuts on air.

Linus and Pigpen check out the 1961 Ford Falcon, and have a nice conversation about mileage with the announcer!

Charlie Brown and Linus dig the new 1964 Ford Falcon.


  1. Charlie T says:

    Nice article! I grew up on jingles – Oscar Meyer, Cocoa Puffs, etc. I think the jingles nowadays are more low key. ‘h-o-t-w-i-r-e hotwire dot commmmmm’, ‘priceline negociator’, ‘s-o, g-double o-d good’ (kfc). They more like tags instead of full-on songs. I guess that fits with society’s short attention spans!

  2. Pink Friday says:

    Interesting, I wonder what the statistics are on your first point there…

    • admin says:

      Ha! I’m not a stats guy (which is probably why I became an advertising Creative Director), but my sense is that the incidence is still pretty low. In the creative side of advertising and marketing, there’s a constant need to approach things “differently.” At the moment, the idea of a jingle seems fresh and new again (after a very long period when it seemed dated). Creatives will have fun with this for a while, but as it becomes popular, it will immediately be perceived as “overused.” Then it will fall away again. This is kind of like the popularity of “swing and tilt lenses” a few years ago in film production, or the “MTV-style” shaky cam look that was so popular. For now, the innovators will use jingles, and then the lower level ad creators will begin to do a poor job of it. The jingle will officially “jump the shark” again, and you won’t hear another for a decade. Thanks for being here – Alan

  3. Bart says:

    This type of ‘branding’ between Chris Brown/Wrigley is what they are all doing right now, because the record labels went broke, and they convinced the artists to sell out.
    Chris Brown wrote an ad jingle for a corporation and misleadingly passed a longer version off as an independently written song.
    “The idea was to connect the hit song and the jingle in listener’s minds…by the time the new jingle came out, it was already seeded properly within popular culture” – Steve Stoute (the ad soundtrack was pased off as a song)

    Here are a few other branded commercial soundtracks:

    Gwen Stefani- Hewlett-Packard- Holla Back Girl
    Justin Timberlake- McDonalds- I’m Lovin It
    Bon Jovi- I Love This Town

    Google: branding product placement in music klugar agency translation advertising

    • admin says:

      Interesting perspective. It’s funny – people do things they love, and then at some point someone decides to pay money for that thing. Athletes, singers, writers – all are driven by love of the game. But when the game becomes monetized, everything changes. It becomes career. The stakes become real. I guess that’s what happens with even the most well-intentioned performers: the lure of the payoff is just too great. Selling out? Well, it’s been awhile since the industry was pure anyway (see boy bands from the 90′s). It’s all about the entertainment value – and the money of course.


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