You may not have heard them in years, but odds are you can finish each of these little ditties the way a couple might finish each other’s sentences: “Give me a break, give me a break …”; “I am stuck on Band-Aid …”; and “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz …” These jingles for the likes of Kit Kat and Alka-Seltzer may seem old school, but you can’t question their staying power. They have managed to replay over and over again in our heads, which is what makes them so effective. Only time will tell if any of today’s advertising campaigns, such as Geico’s revolving door of characters (the cavemen, lizard with distinguished accent, etc.) will one day be remembered so fondly. Here, for your listening and viewing pleasure, are the 10 best commercial jingles of all time.
OK, this plumbing services franchise is not a corporate giant like McDonald’s or Coke, but its jingle is instantly recognizable and has been around much longer than you’d think. In 2004, on the 50th anniversary of the creation of “Call Roto-Rooter, that’s the name, and away go troubles down the drain,” the company commissioned a national survey of 1,000 adults to help determine the best-known jingles. The Roto-Rooter tune finished second, bested only by Wrigley’s “Double your pleasure, double your fun” ditty. But for 35- to 54-year-olds, Roto-Rooter’s anthem was tops. In case you’re wondering, an Indiana-based band known as Capt. Stubby and The Buccanneers performed the jingle. As a band member recalled years later, the performers got about $50 each.
9. Meow Mix
You don’t have to be “crazy cat lady” to get this jingle boasting a series of “Meows” stuck in your head. For this one, we should either blame or thank the musical styling of one Linda November. You may not know her name, but you definitely know her work. She is known as the “Jingle Queen,” and the Meow Mix commercial that first debuted in the 1970s is among her most famous creations. The concert pianist and soprano is credited with developing more than 22,000 jingles, including Burger King’s “Have it your way” and Chicken of the Sea’s “Ask any tuna you happen to see, what’s the best tuna …” Well, you know the rest.
8. Dr Pepper
As you might expect of a product that predates the Spanish-American War, Dr Pepper has gone through significant rebranding and marketing changes through the decades. In the 1920s and 1930s it was “Old Doc,” exemplified by a country doctor complete with top hat and monocle. In the 1950s, latching on to research about sugar’s connection to energy, the soda became “the friendly Pepper-Upper.” But perhaps its most endearing incarnation was its “Be a Pepper” campaign (remember: “Wouldn’t you like to be a Pepper, too?”) first rolled out in the late 1970s, which played up its unique taste — courtesy of a mix of 23 different flavors.
7. State Farm
We have Barry Manilow to blame for the can’t-get-it-out-of-our-head jingle, “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.” When Manilow composed this short-yet-catchy verse in 1971, he was a little-known composer. As State Farm’s website wryly notes, “Mr. Manilow went on to do quite well in the entertainment business.” Manilow also created ubiquitous jingles for Band-Aid (see above), as well as McDonald’s and KFC. He even incorporated some of these jingles into his Very Strange Medley bit featured during his concerts. Today, Manilow’s lyrical ode to insurance sticks, but State Farm’s ads feature other legends like Bob Barker, as well as real insurance agents.
6. Campbell’s Soup
On the Internet, you can certainly find haters who think “M’m! M’m! Good!” is hardly a slogan, but maybe something unintelligible Cookie Monster might say. But there’s no disputing that these three simple words (?) have become engrained in our consciousness. Just Google the term, and millions of search results pop up, mainly writers who think they’re being clever by inserting it into their headline — not knowing or caring that it’s already been done countless times before. The soup company’s use of M’m! M’m! Good! dates to radio spots from the early 1930s.
5. Wrigley’s Doublemint Gum
The peppy “Double your pleasure, double your fun” debuted in 1960 and famously featured several sets of twins during its heyday. The jingle got new life in recent years after R&B artist Chris Brown was contracted to update the more than century-old brand’s image. His song Forever is an extended version of a commercial, and it doesn’t take much to make the connection. Right off the bat, the music video shows Brown chewing a piece of gum that we can presume is Doublemint. Then he rhymes “and dance forever” with “double your pleasure.” Though the slogan has endured, Brown’s Wrigley’s contract did not. The chewing gum maker dropped Brown following his guilty plea in 2009 for assaulting former girlfriend and pop star Rihanna.
4. Oscar Mayer Weiners
Nowadays, you can’t hear the name “Oscar” without thinking of this addictive tune. “Oh, I wish I were an Oscar Mayer Weiner” may never have become stuck in your head if not for the J. Walter Thompson ad agency soliciting jingle ideas for its hot dog-producing client in 1962. Chicago ad man Richard Trentlage composed the tune that aired in almost two dozen countries and even spawned a Hallmark card. Between the ever-present TV spots, and the distinctive Wienermobile, the company has solidified its spot in pop culture, as its creative marketing efforts continue to place at the top of “Best of” lists.
It’s not often that a commercial becomes a hit single. But that’s exactly what happened in 1971, when the legendary Coke commercial, I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke, spawned a top 10 hit, I’d Like to Teach the World To Sing (In Perfect Harmony), recorded by the New Seekers. This legendary song and commercial began in the most unlikely way. A Coke advertising representative found himself stranded by fog for more than a day in an Irish airport. He noticed that the irate passengers seemed to bond over … you guessed it, that sugary beverage. From there, he developed the song to symbolize how Coke brings people together. The song itself came together rather easily, but the TV commercial was a logistical nightmare. Initial plans called for hundreds of British schoolchildren to perform the song at the Cliffs of Dover, but several days of rain scrubbed those plans. A second attempt, this time in Rome, also failed. Finally, 500 young people from schools and embassies in Rome were hired, taught to lip-sync the lyrics, and everything came together to create commercial magic on a picturesque hilltop. More than 40 years later, the commercial is widely regarded as one of the most memorable of all time.
This lyrical nod to the King of Beers can still be heard played in many sports stadiums some 42 years after its creation by New York composer Steve Karmen. Through the years, the company has enlisted many celebrities to sing the omnipresent, “When you say Budweiser, you’ve said it all.” The commercials which first featured a star in its own right, the Clydesdale horse, also spurred some now-legendary variations, such as the University of Wisconsin’s “When You Say WIS-CON-SIN, you’ve said it all!”
As the business started in 1948 has evolved into a food empire, it has also become an advertising powerhouse, boasting nearly two dozen different advertising slogans through the decades. Many have been memorable; two are good enough to put the company atop this list. Long before there was the Quarter Pounder or the Egg McMuffin, there was the Big Mac. Making its debut in 1968, it wasn’t long before, “Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun” was swimming around in our heads and suddenly making us very hungry. Will McDonald’s current “I’m Lovin’ It” campaign become as enduring as “Two all beef patties”? All signs point to “Yes.” This current anthem already has some staying power, debuting in 2003 with vocals by Justin Timberlake.