Mediagistic Blog

Radio Jingles: When to Use them and What Makes them Effective

Matt Sager
Matt Sager

We’ve all heard them. Those catchy little tunes that get stuck in your head all day that you start singing for no reason whatsoever. Jingles have always been an effective way to get your brand locked into a consumer’s brain. Throughout the day, they may sing or hum these tunes without ever realizing it.

In fact, a 2012 study conducted by the University of Vienna found that 89 percent of the study’s participants said they considered jingles to be a highly effective advertising method. The same study also concluded that, “the usage of jingles in advertisements is more effective than the use of slogans [by themselves].” But many of the business owners and brands we talk to express uncertainty as to when and how radio jingles should be used to ensure their effectiveness.

Classics Never Die: 90 Years of Radio Jingles

Radio jingles have been around as long as radio itself. Ever since advertisers first realized the ability of mass media to reach thousands of potential customers, radio was destined to become a powerful tool to advertise their products.

Historians cite the very first jingle, or “singing commercial,” as one that was aired on Christmas Eve in 1926. General Mills had experienced a decline in sales of the popular breakfast cereal and decided to try a little something different. The product in question — a little breakfast cereal called “Wheaties” (you may have heard of it) — has been a staple in American homes ever since.

A full 90 years later, you can still find Wheaties on store shelves all across the country. Since then, jingles have been used to sell everything from antacids to deodorant.

When is a Jingle Right for You?

There are a ton of catchy jingles out in the market. And though they sometimes seem so effortless, there’s a lot of thought and actual science that goes into putting together the right jingle. This can be a double-edged sword if the jingle hits the wrong notes. Some consumers may react negatively to your brand if the jingle is annoying or unpleasant.

When thinking about getting a jingle produced, you also have to consider the cost. We live in a digital world, but it still takes real-life team of musicians, singers and audio engineers to get your jingle to completion.

Some jingles can easily run upwards of $50,000. It’s an investment many companies probably can’t afford at first, but the returns can be huge if done right.

Making an Effective Radio Jingle

Should it rhyme? Should it include your slogan or tagline? What about your phone number? There are so many different ways a jingle could go.

The main goal is to make it recognizable and memorable. Some jingles can take a full 30 seconds to make this happen; others can do this in a mere six notes. Broadly speaking, though, these are the traits of an effective jingle:

  • Brevity/Simplicity: In the world of jingles, being clear and concise is everything. Listeners shouldn’t have to think too much about the meaning or purpose. If a toddler can recite it back to you, then you’re in business.
  • Catchiness: Effective jingles leave an imprint on the listener’s mind in that “earbug” sort of way. Even if the jingle is ostensibly annoying, it’s goal has been accomplished if listeners can’t get it out of their heads.
  • Strong Message: A good jingle can communicate your brand’s basic value proposition in a few words. Often, these jingles will leverage some kind of slogan to accomplish this as well.
  • Pathos: Effective jingles have an element of what the Greeks called “pathos.” They connect on a positive emotional level with the listener. This is achieved by carefully selecting your music and verbiage.

A recent trend has seen a rise in the use of very short jingles comprised of only a few tones. For example, Nationwide Insurance launched its campaign featuring Peyton Manning. The result had everyone singing about chicken parm sandwiches:

To Jingle or Not to Jingle?

Only you can determine whether a jingle is right for you and worth the investment. When done right, this can launch your brand into the stratosphere of marketing and get people all over knowing your business.

Solidifying a jingle for your brand can be a long and expensive process, but in the end, it could pay off. The latest trend of shorter jingles is certainly more cost effective but can be tricky trying to nail down your businesses message in only a few tones.

No matter what you decide to do, Mediagistic can help guide you through the entire process. Our radio and television production team knows jingles, and they’re more than willing to lend their expertise to your company. Contact us today to find out how to get your customers singing your tune.

Matt Sager is a Production Manager and In House Voice Over Talent for Mediagistic. With a B.A. in Television Production and Direction from the University of South Florida and a few years behind the mic at local radio stations, Matt’s experience makes him a perfect fit for his position at Mediagistic. In his free time he enjoys long rides on his motorcycle and consuming as much bacon as possible.

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