Is The Jingle Really Dead?

As Seen In … Advertising Week

Ok, so why would I get so excited about this topic? To be honest, I became a closet jingle super-fan after I was given the assignment in 1989 to produce the first CD compilation of classic jingles (TeeVee Toons: The Commercials). I scoured more than 1000 classic ad tunes to come up with the top 55 of all time (Full list at the bottom but don’t peek yet).

The first question is, do they still make jingles as well as they did in the golden age of advertising? The answer is a resounding NO! What recent ad ditty can you compare to “You deserve a break today,” “Snap, Crackle, Pop,” “Be a Pepper” or “See the USA in your Chevrolet?” You simply can’t. These tune craftsmen were not great jingle writers, they were great song writers. After all, that’s exactly what a great jingle is – a great song (click to tweet).

Many of the great jingle writers from Steve Karmin to Dick Marx (yes Richard Marx’s father) would start with a song and then worry about making it fit in a one minute ad. These jingles were such great songs that even big rock/pop artists were proud to sing them. Most of us know that Barry Manilow wrote some classic musical ads (as he performs them in concert), and even Justin Timberlake and Jack White have sung for their supper, but it’s rare that anyone can name these classic artists who recorded tunes for Madison Ave … Ready? David Bowie, ZZ Top, Iron Butterfly, Cream, The Who, and yes – even the Rolling Stones.

So, what are the chances that the trend will reverse itself, and we will have a resurgence of great jingles that stick in your head once again? Is it simply a matter of getting today’s pop writers to take a trip down Madison Avenue? Unfortunately, I don’t think so. It’s sort of like saying will we have another “Hey Jude,” “Satisfaction,” “Sounds of Silence,” or “Piano Man.” Those days are gone and the Brill Building and its cast of infamous writers cannot be replicated, and I think that’s just fine. All these amazing tunes have been captured for prosperity so they will live on for future generations to come through radio, TV, digital music files, and well … err … my CD:

Ok so now let’s bring it on home for my choice of the best commercial jingle of all time, and it’s very hard to resist saluting David Letterman as he leaves the chair to do it Top 5 style so here we go.

Number Five: Texaco: The Texaco Star Theme

Number Four: Schafer Beer: Schafer is the one beer to have when you’re having more than one

Number three: Coca Cola: It’s the real thing

Number two: Budweiser: When you say Bud

And drum roll, the greatest jingle ever recorded …

Chiquita Bananas: I’m a Chiquita banana

Post your favorite jingle below, and I bet you will be stuck singing one of these for the rest of the day!