The Jingles We Love to Hate

I hate advertisements. The “funny” ones aren’t funny, the serious ones are unconvincing, and even worse are the ones where you don’t even know what the ruddy blazes they’re advertising about. However, there’s one area some commercials are gaining a small measure of success: memorable jingles.

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, they can be very effective. As bothersome as they can be, it’s hard to forget Subway’s “$5 Foot-long”, J.G. Wentworth’s “Cash Now” or FreeCreditReport.com’s series of jingles.

So here’s what we can learn from these annoying, yet efficient musical ads to write memorable songs:

1. Keep it simple.

Catchy songs are memorable because they keep it simple. A good rule of thumb is that if the melody is easily “singable”, then it has a much better chance of being remembered.

2. Repetition.

Repetition, repetition, repetition. This is the blessing and curse of a memorable song. State an idea once and people are going to forget it; state it too many times, people resent it. The trick of a great artist is to present the same idea several times, but never in the exact same way. This is the pitfall of advertising jingles…you hear them over and over and they drive you crazy…but you never forget them.

3. Go back to the core.

Being a creative person, it can be hard to limit oneself to one idea, but a great song usually has that single, core idea that hits the artist strong and true. The core idea of the Subway commercial is to tell its customers about a $5 sandwich, the Wentworth ad about how to get immediate cash from a structured settlement, and the credit report website about looking up…well, your credit report.

These aren’t exactly powerful ideas, but they work because people understand them. Start off a song about your girl leaving you and ending with a showdown of angry, evil badgers doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. However, lock into an idea that goes to the core of the human experience and makes it clear for people’s hearts and minds, your audience will love you for that. That’s the true calling of the artist.

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