What is a radio jingle, and how has it become such a significant part of the audio advertising landscape?
The radio jingle is probably one of the most enduring forms of radio marketing ever created. Since the radio first emerged as a commercial opportunity for brands, companies have been using short, catchy tunes to grab their audience’s attention.
Even if you weren’t familiar with the word “jingle” before today, you’re probably familiar with a few well-known examples. Virtually everyone knows the McDonald’s “I’m lovin’ it” jingle.
In many parts of America, singing “The best part of waking up…” to someone instantly reminds them of the Folgers coffee brand.
Ultimately, radio jingles are just another way for businesses to embed their branding messages into the minds of their target audience. They’re refreshing, fun, memorable, and almost impossibly catchy.
Here’s everything you need to know about the radio jingle.
What is a radio jingle? An introduction
So, what is a radio jingle?
A radio jingle is essentially just a small, concise sound clip originally designed for use in radio advertising. They’re like short songs created specifically to advertise a brand and its USP in a matter of seconds.
While these “sonic advertising” tools originated in the radio landscape, they’ve also become commonplace in television and online advertising.
You’ve probably heard the “Nationwide: On Your Side” jingle at the end of a television ad for a new banking or financial product. Or maybe you’re familiar with the “What would you do?” jingle for Klondike Bars.
Radio jingles combine a simple message, similar to the tagline we might see connected to a company’s logo, with a backing rhythm or music. The introduction of a musical element helps to enhance the memorability of the message.
In fact, studies have proven that music and rhythm can boost how our memory works. Of course, it depends on how the voice actors infuse words into the rhythm. This is why hiring voice actors is crucial to the success of any radio jingle.
Where did old radio jingles come from?
Radio jingles have been around for almost as long as radio technology.
Ever since advertisers discovered they could reach thousands of potential customers through radio waves, they’ve been leveraging jingles as a fast and effective way to connect with their audience.
The very first radio jingle ever to emerge in modern media is attributed to the US food company General Mills. Defined as a “singing commercial” at the time, the jingle was aired on Christmas Eve in 1926, after General Mills had begun to experience a decline in sales.
Keen to recapture their audience’s attention and differentiate their brand from other cereal vendors, General Mills decided to try something a little different. They created an ad for “Wheaties,” highlighting the product as the “best breakfast food in the land.”
The radio jingle turned out to be a huge success for the company, saving it from potential extinction. Almost 100 years later, people are still familiar with this famous tune. Plus, General Mills has remained in operation ever since.
Wheaties are still sold on store shelves today.
What is a jingle in advertising?
The primary purpose of a radio jingle is to help advertise and establish brand identity. The right jingle boosts brand awareness and reputation, introduces a company’s personality, and ensures a business can maintain the attention of its target audience.
In fact, throughout the years, studies have found radio jingles to be extremely effective at capturing and preserving customer interest. In 2012, the University of Vienna found that 89% of participants considered jingles to be a highly effective advertising method.
Today, a massive 60% of customers say they believe using music in marketing makes an advertisement more memorable than visuals.
Additionally, 45% of consumers believe the audio methods used by a brand help them to understand the company’s personality, while 47% say music helps them feel more connected to a business.
While jingles might not be as commonplace today as they once were, they still offer a range of benefits to companies when used correctly, including:
Our brains are tuned to enjoy rhythm, music, and audio in all of its forms. We’re more likely to remember a slogan when accompanied by a catchy tune than we are to remember the words on their own.
Radio jingles stick in the minds of consumers. We find ourselves humming them at work or riding the bus. This helps to expand the reach of any brand and promotes better brand awareness.
A radio jingle can be an excellent way for a business to demonstrate its personality and set itself apart from the competition. This is particularly true now that radio jingles are less common among modern brands.
Types of Radio Jingles
There are different types of radio jingles serving different purposes in radio broadcasting. The most common radio jingles are:
Radio Station IDs
These are played to identify a given radio station. There are two types: top-of-the-hour played at the beginning of each hour and legal IDs, which are longer, more detailed station identifications. The latter includes the station’s call letters, city of license, broadcasting power, and transmitter location.
These are paid advertisements that promote products, services, or events. They vary in length, but they typically include a catchy jingle, a message about the product or service, and contact information for the advertiser.
For example, “Don’t miss out on our amazing sale this weekend at Smith’s Electronics! Visit us at 123 Main Street for unbeatable deals.”
They are promotional announcements or advertisements created to build anticipation for upcoming shows, events, or special features.
They often include the station’s name and essential details about the event. For example, “Tune in this Friday at 8 PM for our live concert special with your favorite band!”
These are used to transition between different segments of a radio program smoothly. They help maintain the flow and create a seamless listening experience.
Holiday and Seasonal jingles
These jingles are tailored to specific holidays or seasons and are used to create a festive atmosphere on the radio. For example, you might hear holiday-themed jingles during Christmas or Halloween.
They are used to acknowledge sponsors or partners of a radio station or specific programs. They often incorporate the sponsor’s name and tagline.
What are the elements of a good radio jingle?
Companies asking the question, “What is a radio jingle?” may also be wondering how to create one of their own. On the surface, jingles seem like relatively simple advertising tools. All you really need is a catchy slogan and the right audio to accompany it.
However, not every jingle will automatically become an earworm. Most brands need to work with experts in audio advertising to define and create the right jingle.
Here is a compilation of the top radio jingles that should help you get a feel of what we’re discussing:
While the exact elements of an effective jingle might vary, most of the best jingle examples are:
- Simple: Jingles should be brief, straight to the point, and easy to remember. Listeners shouldn’t have to think too much about the meaning or purpose of the message.
- Catchiness: The tune and rhythm of the words in the jingle should make customers want to repeat what they heard. A catchy jingle is an earworm you can’t get out of your head.
- Meaningful: Good jingles should send a strong message. They need to communicate a brand’s basic values and personality in a fun and engaging way.
- Emotional: Jingles should connect with a customer’s emotions using the power of music and sound. Different styles of music can elicit various unique emotions.
- Versatile: A good jingle should work anywhere. It needs to be able to translate well into different languages and align with the rest of the company’s branding strategy.
Examples of famous jingles
Once you start thinking about radio jingles, the chances are you’ll come up with countless examples of your own. Depending on where you live in the world, you might be more familiar with some of these marketing messages than others.
Here are some of the top jingle examples to inspire you. Be warned. Once you hear them, you might not be able to stop singing them.
Da-da-da-daaa. The Mcdonald’s jingle is one of the most memorable around, and it’s stayed with the company for a number of years.
The global brand message was launched in 2003 with the help of pop star Justin Timberlake. “I’m lovin’ it” is still a key slogan for the company’s value proposition today.
The Oscar Meyer Weiner song radio jingle was first introduced in 1963, making it one of the longest-running commercial jingles still in use today.
It’s fun, playful, and designed specifically to capture the attention of a younger audience.
The Folgers jingle “The best part of waking up, is Folgers in your cup” was introduced by the company’s advertising team in 1960.
This jingle still follows the brand today, and it’s something many modern consumers associate with the business.
A few months before the US economy spiraled out of control in 2008, Subway introduced its $5 footlong offer, accompanied by its very own radio jingle.
Although this jingle isn’t always present in Subway advertising today, it’s something many consumers are still familiar with.
The insurance and investing company State Farm introduced “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there” in 1971, with the help of Barry Manilow.
The jingle was so popular it even encouraged other bands to create covers. Weezer introduced their own version in 2011.
Should you be using radio jingles?
Now you know the answer to “What is a radio jingle?” you’re probably reminiscing about all of your favorite examples. Radio jingles are perhaps the most memorable and iconic form of radio advertising accessed by companies over the years.
Ideally boosting brand awareness, showcasing personality, and making a business more memorable, jingles have stood the test of time.
As the podcasting and online radio landscape continue to thrive, there’s a good chance we’ll continue to see more companies trying to create their own version of the ultimate jingle.
Whether you love them or hate them, it’s impossible to argue the fact that jingles have always had a powerful impact on the marketing landscape.
With the massive cultural impact jingles have on pop culture, it’s no wonder it’s a defining advertising tool. Speaking of advertising, you may be interested in our articles on Commercial Radio History and The History Of Radio Advertising.
Radio Fidelity: For the love of radio.