Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.
In other words, if you want to maintain the ability for uninterrupted thought, coherent conversation and even your sanity, stop reading now. Turn back before it's too late. For if you continue reading, you'll certainly find these earworms boring holes deep into your brain. In fact, many millions of dollars paid to top marketing minds ensure just this: You'll never forget these jingles.
But with so many evil goodies, it's hard to choose just 10. So let's set some ground rules. First, these jingles must in fact be jingles, and not simply slogans. So nix the famous Mentos commercial from which you remember the faux-sexy Euro voice exclaiming "the freshmaker!" but don't actually remember the tune that precedes it.
Second, for the purpose of this list, we'll include only jingles that are more than just a line with the company name. Sorry, "Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there!" "Rice-A-Roni, the San Francisco treat!" and "The best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup!"
Yes, these are painful losses, and the line between a simple company motto set to music and a true jingle is a fuzzy one, but this is a long list, and desperate times call for desperate cuts.
With those rules in mind, and with full awareness that you release us from any responsibility for lost work time or any family strife the following jingles may cause, read on.
Of course -- but which Coke jingle makes the list? "Always Coca-Cola"? "It's the real thing"? "A Coke and a smile"? "Coke is it"? "Coke feeling"?
No, the catchiest Coke jingle of all time, and the jumping off point for this list, is "I'd like to teach the world to sing." But ask yourself this: Which came first, the Coke jingle or the hit song recorded by the Hillside Singers? You don't know, do you? The song's simply that good.
In fact, the original is the Coke jingle, recorded in 1971 and only later scrubbed clean of Coke references and reengineered for pop release.
The implication of this ad campaign is obvious: If you chew Doublemint Gum, you'll meet up with twins. And not just any twins, but most likely supermodel twins who are riding bikes or playing on the beach. "Double your pleasure, double your fun" indeed! Who can't relate to that? In this case, the universal resonance of the ad's message combines with an especially catchy tune to create an army of consumers flocking like sheep to the gum rack at their local grocery stores.
Stay tuned to hear more from the gum companies. Doublemint is just the start of several snappy gum jingles.
The nice thing about these gum jingles is that so much more than just the hook gets stuck in your head, claiming brain space that might be better used for remembering things like the location of your car keys, the date of your anniversary or the lyrics of non-gum-related jingles. Admit it: Rather than just one line, you can sing the whole Juicy Fruit song. Let's give it a try: "Get your skis shined up, grab a stick of Juicy Fruit -- the taste is gonna move you! Move you up! Move you out! The taste is gonna move you when you pop it in your mouth!" Then to the hook: "Juicy Fruit is gonna move ya! It's got a taste that gets right through ya!"
Oh, and the premise of this ad campaign is that if you chew Juicy Fruit, you'll be extreme -- able to radically jump a boat's wake on flailing double water skis while briefly removing one hand from the tow rope.
Of course, Big Red decided to fight fire with fire. Keep reading.
Do you like to make out -- not just kiss but really, truly lock lips in public in a way that makes everyone around you feel awkward? If so, Big Red is the gum for you, allowing you to "Kiss a little longer, stay close a little longer, hold tight a little longer -- longer with Big Red!"
But there's more, so much more! Can you finish the song? "That Big Red freshness lasts right through it, your fresh breath goes on and on, while you chew it!" and on and on.
Note: Doublemint, Juicy Fruit and Big Red are all products of Wrigley, so these jingles and their power to make you cough up an extra couple bucks at the gas station contributes to the annual optimistic, but ultimately doomed, mania of millions of Chicago Cubs fans.
Kit Kat Bar
The marketing genius of this song is that not only are the first three bars totally hum-able, but that the last bar lands the product name in a way matched neither before nor since.
Think about it: "Gimme a break, gimme a break, break me off a piece of that Kit Kat bar." What else could possibly replace the last three words? Nothing, that's what. And the idea of breaking off a piece of a Kit Kat is so perfectly right on for the four sticks that make up the bar that it's bound to appeal to your sweet tooth. It's genius, just genius. You know, in an evil, mind-eating kind of way.
Long before a LOLcat ever asked "Can I Haz Cheezburger?" the cats of Meow Mix were putting on a show and making their feline voices heard. True, without the on-screen bouncing ball reminiscent of a karaoke performance, the cat's diction left a little of the meaning up to the viewer's imagination -- but while the lyrics may be lacking, the tune still sticks with us to this day.
The lyrics were as follows: "Meow, meow, meow, meow. Meow, meow, meow, meow. Meow meow meow meow, meow meow meow meow." Get it? It's a CAT doing the singing! Saying "meow." Genius.
Of all companies, Oscar Mayer really deserves to make the list twice! Due to the mighty jingle writers of the House of Mayer, we know that our bologna has a first AND a second name. And we all wish we were wieners -- that is what we'd truly like to be!
These are old school, folks. The original wiener ad is from 1965, and the bologna ad followed shortly after. Both are classics, and with well over a million combined page views on YouTube etching the jingles into the minds of a whole new generation, both are likely to remain classics far into the foreseeable future.
Toys "R" Us
Ah, the idea of eternal youth! To drink from the Grail Cup or the fountain of youth! To be Peter Pan! To be, as Rod Stewart sings, forever young!
There's a very important reason not to age: If you grew up, you couldn't be a Toys "R" Us kid!
Like the Big Red jingle, this is one of those songs that sticks with you in its entirety -- not just the hook but the whole kit and caboodle. Specifically, it goes like this: "I don't wanna grow up, I'm a Toys "R" Us kid. There's a million toys at Toys "R" Us that I can play with! More bikes, more trains, more video games, it's the biggest toy store there is. I don't wanna grow up 'cause maybe if I did, I couldn't be a Toys "R" Us kid." Now try getting that one out of your head!
Marketing professor James Kellaris of the University of Cincinnati studies earworms -- those tunes that so tenaciously cling to your ear hair and then neurons. In a 2003 study, he explored the tunes most often stuck in the heads of 559 students. Beating out heavy hitters like "We Will Rock You," "Who Let the Dogs Out" and the "Mission Impossible" theme song was the jingle promoting Chili's baby back ribs.
You know the tune. It sounds exactly like the bass line of The Doors' "Roadhouse Blues," which was released in 1970 and peaked at No. 50 on the U.S. Billboard's Top 100. Enough about The Doors, though: You know the song as, "I want my baby back, baby back, baby back, I want my baby back, baby back, baby back," and so on.
On a side note, the only other marketing jingle to make Kellaris' list was the Kit Kat jingle.
OK, maybe it's a little offensive, but the joke goes like this:
Grover is driving a bus down Sesame Street, picking up kids on the way to school. First, he picks up twin girls, Patty and Pattie, neither of whom does much to allay fears of the American obesity epidemic. Next, he stops for the notorious Lester Cheese, who after taking a seat immediately takes off his shoes and starts picking his bunions. Grover stops for Ross' wheelchair, but the mechanical lift is on the fritz and by the time Grover finally gets to school, he's horribly late. The principal, Big Bird, asks Grover why he's so late and Grover replies (wait for it ... wait for it ... OK, cue the music), "Two obese Patties, special Ross, Lester Cheese picking bunions on a Sesame Street bus!"
Admit it -- you know the tune. And also admit that you know the real words. How could you not? This is the catchiest commercial jingle of all time.
Now that we've filled your head with an unending stream of jaunty jingles, check out the next page for links to more fun articles.
Susan Bennett never knew she would become one of the world's most famous voices until Siri debuted on iPhones in 2011. HowStuffWorks tells her story.
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- Craig, Steve. "Madison Avenue versus The Feminine Mystique: How the Advertising Industry Responded to the Onset of the Modern Women's Movement." Popular Culture Association. March 27, 1997. (March 28, 2011)http://www.asc.upenn.edu/courses/comm334/Docs/femads.pdf
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- Schudson, Michael. "Advertising, the Uneasy Persuasion: Its Dubious Impact on American Society." Basic Books. 1984.