If someone asked you to name the sound of Christmas, what would you say?
Most people answer one of two things: either the sound of Santa’s 'Ho, Ho, Ho-ing' or the unmistakable jingling of Christmas bells on Rudolph and his cronies’ harnesses as they pull the jolly fat man through the December night sky.
Now name one CMO who wouldn’t want their brand so instantly recognizable by consumers. Cue the sound of crickets chirping.
Advertising jingles have become a far less popular part of the marketing mix in recent years. Perhaps this is due to media buys shifting heavily online, where sound is a less prominent component of the baseline banner-ad mix. It may also be suffering from the impact of growth teams who struggle to justify the CPA increase of rich ad formats containing sound compared to more cost-efficient channels. Others might simply feel like a jingle is below their brand, and casually drop the ancient David Ogilvy quote (said in a posh English accent), “The advertisers who believe in the power of jingles have never had to sell anything”.
However, what’s often forgotten in the ROI equations is the intangible importance of storytelling, and the impact building brand affinity has on bottom-funnel conversion metrics.
As Dick Clark once said, "music is the soundtrack to our lives." It’s therefore no coincidence that when we nostalgically think back on our favorite childhood ads, they inevitably contain a jingle. For me it was the '90s 'Always Coca-Cola' ad, "The stars will always shine, the birds will always sing, as long as there is thirst, there’s always the real thing." The brands associated with our childhood memories will forever hold a place in our hearts, minds and wallets as we subliminally favor them at the checkout.
How can a tool so powerful be discarded, I hear you ask? Who knows! But hopefully these five reasons to believe help inspire you to bring back the jingle.
1. Brand royalty was built on jingle loyalty
Iconic brands that have stood the test of time, have regularly called upon the power of jingles. From Intel’s "Bong-bong, bong-bong", to Disney’s 'When you wish upon a star', to Huggies 'I’m a big kid now', many brands are instantly recognizable by the sound alone.
2. Science is on your side
In 1974 psychologists Baddeley and Hitch developed the working memory model. It articulated the process for information shifting from short-term to long-term memory. Remembering sounds over the long term requires the brain to subliminally rehearse what its heard in the phonological loop (the inner 'ear'). Rhythm and rhyme provide cues for brains, aiding retention and the transition to long-term memory. Jingles embrace this model, enhancing brand recall.
3. Viral the old fashion way
Name a marketer that isn’t hoping their social-influencer strategy will strike a chord and ‘go viral’, delivering countless unearned shares and likes? Well, long before social media, brands leveraged the virality of jingles. Perhaps the most memorable was McDonald’s Big Mac ingredients song: two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions...on a sesame seed bun. In the '80s consumers who could say the jingle in four seconds or less won a free Coke. Needless to say, many customers rehearsed the song over and over at work or in schoolyards.
4. Jingle short evolution
Often jingles are thought of as lengthy songs. This perception can perhaps scare marketers off the idea of incorporating a song into their branding. Yet like all forms of media, the average length of a jingle has drastically reduced. A prime example of a super-short and sharp, yet highly memorable sound is Netflix’s 'Ta-Dum', played at the beginning of each show.
5. Jingle rebranded
If you’re worried pitching a jingle isn’t going to cut it with your internal stakeholders, fear no more! Thanks to the strategy team at Jargon Inc. you can now use 'sonic branding' as a modern alternative to the term 'jingle'. That's a line item that will breeze through budget approvals with your finance team. For example, in 2019 Mastercard debuted its sonic brand, heralding the importance of a multisensory brand.
Put simply, jingles have the power to dramatically enhance the retention of your message. Use them and you’ll astronomically increase the number of prospects who remember your brand.
Shane Capron is consumer marketing director at PayPal International in Singapore.