History of the Advertising Jingle

Where did the advertising jingle come from? It’s something we don’t give much thought to—because to us, advertising and music have been connected for as long as we can remember. You listened to singers push new products over the radio since you were a kid. It seems as if advertising jingles have always been around.

The Classic Advertising Jingle

Though the thought of classic advertising jingles might conjure up images from the 1950’s, they actually date back to the 1500’s, when merchants would sing about their products in the streets to be heard over the cacophony of other buyers and sellers. Clearly, this concept stuck. The idea of singing as a sales tactic developed through centuries until the first commercial advertising jingle was broadcasted in 1926. That Christmas Eve, the “Wheaties Quartet” sang an a cappella ode to Wheaties cereal on the radio. The jingle sparked a new beginning for the brand and for radio advertising everywhere, saving Wheaties from discontinuation and ushering in a mass adoration of advertising jingles.

Pushing Jingles Where They’ve Never Gone Before

“Adoration” may be an understatement—advertising jingles made up a massive proportion of radio and television advertising for decades after they were introduced to the American public. They pushed products to listeners and viewers just like the tunes sung by 16th century London vendors, as well as being adopted by radio DJs nationwide to advertise their shows between records. In an interview with NPR, author and former jingle producer Ken Deutsch stated that a Top 40 station in the 60’s and 70’s without a jingle would’ve been “unthinkable.”

Just as a single Wheaties song changed the advertising game, one 1987 Nike commercial changed it again. Nike obtained the rights to the Beatles’ “Revolution,” paving the way for a new era of ads featuring licensed popular music. Though many companies may opt to pay through the nose for the rights to the newest Top 40 hit, jingles have a rich history and, better yet, a great track record of commercial success.

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