What Is an Advertising Jingle?

Jingles frequently pitch popular consumer products like soda.
Jingles frequently pitch popular consumer products like soda. (Image: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Advertisers use short songs called "jingles" to market their products. The jingle has lyrics that pitch the product, so it usually must be written specifically for the product. Companies do sometimes use the lyrics of an existing popular song that fits their product, too. For example, Chevrolet used a segment of Bob Seger's song "Like a Rock" in its Silverado commercials. However, segments of existing songs are not considered jingles in the advertising world.


A jingle is a short song with both music and lyrics. The song directly makes reference to a product. The music is often upbeat, and the lyrics may be amusing to entertain the audience. The words typically rhyme, which can give the tune a playful style. For shorter jingles, if music didn't accompany the lyrics, the lyrics could be considered a slogan instead. The style of the jingle may mirror the current style of popular music.


People typically remember the words to a jingle better than the spoken words of a commercial. The memorable tune and rhyming words make the jingle "catchy." If the words are entertaining, that also draws the audience's attention and might lead people to sing the single for fun, one of the advertising agency's goals. Companies may write a new jingle for each commercial they make for a single product, depending on what may appeal to current audiences. When doing so, they study their audience's choice in music closely to determine what styles are most popular. They may also keep the same jingle for many years, to build familiarity. People may feel a sense of trust in a product and company, or even a sense of nostalgia, when they grow up hearing its jingle. The company may create different versions of a song, too, keeping the same melody and lyrics but hiring a new singer or changing the style. This strategy may portray the company as changing with the times while remaining consistent in quality.


In 1971, Coke's "I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke" became one of its most famous-ever jingles. In fact, the jingle's success led it to become a full-length popular song. Oscar Mayer's "I Wish I Were an Oscar Mayer Weiner" and "My Bologna Has a First Name," and Folgers' "Best Part of Wakin' Up," also have had strong staying power. Folgers' commercials are an example of a jingle that has been adapted over time to keep the commercials fresh, though the basic elements of the song -- its melody, chorus and theme -- remain the same.


The first jingle debuted on radio in 1929, advertising Wheaties. A barbershop quartet sang the song, as Ron Rodman says in "Tuning In: American Narrative Television Music." Jingles proclaiming "Pepsi Cola Hit the Spot" and "Snap! Crackle! Pop! Rice Krispies!" followed soon after, with jingles becoming an advertising staple by the 1940s.

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