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In my Music Branding class at Woodbury University, we discuss the very interesting or horribly predictable ways in which brands use music.  One thing that is clear from my students, as well as my peers in the Music Branding world, is the need for authenticity and the willingness to take risks.  But how can you maintain “risk” and “authenticity” when discussing that old Ad Music relic “The Jingle.”

Sure, we can point to at least one recent (and unforgettable, for better or for worse) jingle that follows all the usual rules (mention the product, don’t do anything too edgy) with the song for Lapband, a weightloss device.  Come on, you know the song:

“Let Your New Life Begin Call 1-800 Get Slim (or Trim)”

Not too mention “Beep Beep.com” and the “Freecreditreport.com” band.  But these are rarities today.  More often when brands and agencies want an original piece, they want it to feel less like a “jingle” and more like a song.  This includes everything from Karen O’s Adidas song to Chris Brown’s Doublemint commercial which was suspended when the singer got in some PR trouble.  During last week’s class, my friend Geoff Sherr, from Squeek E. Clean (one of the hottest original music houses for advertising), walked us through the process.  We were all struck by the quality, risk-taking and sheer authenticity evidenced in some of their groundbreaking work like their “Accidental Duet” track for Match.com which won them a host of awards at Cannes Lion.  This isn’t “Plop Plop Fizz Fizz” and, in fact, the song is so authentic that YouTubers are covering it.

“I Like Old Movies Like Godfather 3”

In the recent “Conversation About Music, Marketing and JetBlue,”during Ad Week’s recent conference, this desire for authenticity and risk-taking was echoed.  When explaining JetBlue’s “Live From Terminal 5” program featuring artists playing for between-flight customers, Fiona Morrison, Director of Brand & Advertising, said “You have to be willing to take risks.”

Companies like Squeek E Clean (and their brethren Mophonics) understand that and, as a result, they will continue making interesting work while jingles continue their slide into irrelevancy.  And, in a bizarre bit of jingle appreciation, I leave you with Cotton Candy, a band whose repertoire consists entirely of old product jingles.  Listen here.

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5 Comments
  • janine

    5:50 pm - Tue, Oct, 2010 -

    Great blog Richard, really enjoyed the links as well. Being prehistoric, I remember HATING the Doublemint campaign as a child and asking my dad why they kept such a dated campaign in the 60s. Seeing Chris Brown’s spot just made up for all that early suffering watching Stepford twins on bicycles and having that insipid “Double your pleasure” jingle stick in my head.

  • Nick Norton-Smith

    1:47 am - Wed, Oct, 2010 -

    Richard,

    Some very telling points made in your blog, as a working composer in London i am always torn when interpreting a brief.
    Left field or straight ahead?

    Specialist music houses that mine the seam of alternative and original music treatments for brands have a huge advantage over the likes of individual composers as they are specifically requested to step out the mainstream.And stay there.

    The fact that lexicon of jingles (in the traditional sense of the word) has achieved a certain cultural cache is testament to a peculiar affection for the irritating and banal.

    can you still whistle it 20 years later?

    Great blog,

    I’ll look you up next time i’m in LA,

    Best,

    Nick

  • brandmusic.com.au

    8:44 pm - Mon, Nov, 2010 -

    Richard, nice blog, thanks for the example links. The jingle is a discussion we have here every second day. We’ve been making music for ads for nearly a decade in Australia. We can honestly say that nearly every ad break on Radio & TV has one of our jingles.

    The catchy jingle is not dead, it’s just about what production quality you are willing to create. We luckily get to do some cool agency stuff which are more about songs for brands without the actual brand name as well as the very obvious jingles that are written and designed to stick in your head.

    Nick sums it up perfectly ‘can you still whistle it 20 years later?’

    I actually find the humble jingle a real challenge. After writing hundreds of them I never tire of ther briefs and to me they are essentially about the skill of bringing a brand to life within 30 seconds.

    The younger creatives in agencies are becoming increasingly lazy in my opinion and it’s too easy to insert well known band track into the ad. Problem is you can’t own this track for the brand, and it can pop up anywhere else for the right price.

    Using well knwon music can work well as we know sometimes, but it’s laziness thats making brands look like music video clips.

    Come and see some of our work
    http://www.brandmusic.com.au/work/retail-jingles/

    we always love other peoples comments.

    The news section also has some of the crossover ad songs

    http://www.brandmusic.com.au/blog/

    regards

    Michael Burrows
    Director of Melody
    Brand Music
    Australia

  • Eliana Gilad

    4:43 pm - Thu, Feb, 2011 -

    Richard thanks so much for your blog. It’s really fascinating to read. I loved the Cotton Candy clip – major cool.

    I also enjoy reading the responses, particularly Michael Burrows of Brand Music Australia and Nick Norton. I’d love to know more about Specialty brand music houses. I compose a very authentic, all acoustic, wordless music, medically proven to lower blood pressure, heart rate, and increase focus.

    I believe that authentic music has an important role to play in life and in commerce. When people feel better about themselves, they have more confidence and will contribute more. This includes purchases. It’s a win-win.

    I am committed to this approach and would LOVE to discover agencies and houses creating with this approach.

    Where would you lead someone like me? I love you already for what you’ve all written, and I will love you when you respond.

    All the best,
    Eliana Gilad, Founder, Voices of Eden
    www.

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