heeled dr martens AdAge Encyclopedia of Advertising
The full fledged singing commercial has been traced to shortly before World War II when disc jockeys aired customized musical commercials between records. Many early spots were based on popular folk songs, such as a Camel jingle sung to the tune of “Eatin’ Goober Peas”:
Rich, rich, mild, mild, Camel cigarettes.
Just as the Camel jingle emphasized product benefits, so did a 1937 Wheaties spot aired on “Jack Armstrong, the All American Boy.” It was not based on a folk tune; instead, a live, on air male quartet sang:
Have you tried Wheaties? They’re whole wheat with all of the bran.
So just try Wheaties. For wheat is the best food of man.
They’re crispy, they’re crunchy the whole year through.
Jack Armstrong never tires of Wheaties and never will you.
Perhaps the most famous early jingle campaign was that of Pepsi Cola Co. In 1939, the marketer was looking for a major ad agency. In July 1939, Messrs. Johnson and Kent created words that soon became famous:
Two full glasses, that’s a lot.
Twice as much for a nickel too.
Pepsi Cola is the drink for you.
Walter Mack, president of Pepsi, liked the jingle but passed over L and instead hired Newell Emmett Co. According to a 1955 account in Advertising Age, however, he kept the L jingle. It broke in September 1939 on New York’s WOR between news bulletins of Hitler’s invasion of Poland. Soon everybody was humming it.
By the time TV arrived, the singing commercial, or jingle, was near extinction. That medium revived it, however, and gave it a new voice that still continues.
In spring 1957 Roy Gilbert, who had written the 1948 Academy Award winning song “Zip a de doo dah” and other hits, sued Hills Bros. Ayer Sons, music publisher George Simon and others, claiming he had been “irreparably and irrevocably harmed” by the use of the “Muskrat Ramble” (to which he had contributed the lyrics) without his consent in radio and TV spots.
Some artists, however, willingly sell the rights to their music, as the Rolling Stones did in 1995 when they accepted $8 million from Microsoft for the rights to “Start It Up,” which Microsoft used in its introductory effort for Windows 1995. Other artists who have licensed their hit songs include the Beach Boys, who sold the rights to their 1960s hit “California Girls” to Clairol for its Herbal Essence shampoo in 1976,
and Carly Simon, whose “Anticipation” became part of a long running campaign for Heinz ketchup.
There is always a risk when an advertiser rewrites the lyrics to someone’s favorite tune, but one successful adaptation was the 1999 campaign by Mercedes Benz using Janis Joplin’s late 1960s song about the car (including the lyrics, “Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz?”).
The list of pop tunes that have been used as jingles is a long one. One particular song, “Me Gotta Have You,” recorded by 1950s pop singer Julius LaRosa, mentioned so many names (Burma Shave, Adler shoes, Toni home permanents, Halo shampoo, Swift bologna, and Smith Bros. cough drops), however, that it offended WNEW owner manager Richard D. Buckley, who decided to ban such songs from his station.
Some jingles even became hit songs. Among the more recognizable ones are Chock Full O’ Nuts’ “Heavenly Feeling,” “Chevrolet Mambo,” “A Western Jingle for Nescafe” Rainier Brewing Co.’s “Rainier Waltz,” the “Mission Bell” wine song and the classic “Chiquita Banana” song. Mid 1960s jingles that became instant hits included Pepsi Cola’s “Music to Watch Girls By” and “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke” by the Seekers.
Some artists seem to have a natural ability to create jingles that become hits. Roger Nichols has written catchy tunes that became instant favorites. “We’ve Only Just Begun,” with lyrics by Paul Williams, was originally commissioned in 1969 by the ad agency Batten, Barton, Durstine Osborn for its San Francisco based client Crocker National Bank. A year later the song topped the charts when recorded by the Carpenters. Nichols, along with Mr. Williams and A Records held the publishing and recording rights, while Crocker Bank retained the advertising rights, allowing it to reuse the jingle in future campaigns.
For J. Walter Thompson Co.’s Eastman Kodak Co. account, Mr. Nichols wrote “Times of Your Life,” with lyrics by Bill Lane for a TV spot, featuring singer Paul Anka, with ground breaking, two minute radio spots sung by Peggy Lee, Barry Manilow, Anne Murray and other artists. Mr. Anka also recorded it for national distribution and it became a top 10 song,
greatly increasing Kodak’s exposure at no additional cost to the company.