The Power of Catchy Radio Jingles

posted by Matt Senne

Hearing is the human’s most memorable sense. Sound can evoke emotional and cognitive responses within humans and is a strong connector to experiences. What does that have to do with radio advertising? When you consider radio as theater of the mind, it has everything to do with it, which is the point of this blog – the power of radio jingles and how they affect branding.

Repetition to the Sound of Music

The Power of a Catchy Radio JingleHave you ever caught yourself humming the alphabet song when trying to place a letter? L, M, N, O, P … why do you think this is the method that so many of us (as adults, too!) employ after learning it as children? Because it’s effective. Plain and simple. The human brain processes memories uniquely and more easily conjure up data or information if repetition is involved – like memorizing a song.

While music and radio have been around for hundreds of years, the first singing commercial is thought to have aired on Christmas Eve in 1926 – still a relatively newer approach to advertising. Why say it when you can sing it? Ask the folks at General Mills – that first singing commercial was for Wheaties, still an American breakfast staple to this day. That commercial ushered in a now well-known radio advertising strategy called the jingle. Your auditory processing hasn’t been the same since.

Why Jingles Work

The right jingle can act like an earworm and become a familiar, repetitive sound the brain will store and recall. I said right jingle because there’s a kind of science behind crafting the right sound for a brand. Consumers may react negatively with your brand if your jingle is annoying, unpleasant, or disruptive. Sometimes just like with a favorite song, even the opening few notes will generate memory triggers and people will automatically start singing the song or jingle. Think of McDonald’s. Ba da da da daaaa … you’re loving it, right?

Jingles can be crafted in several different ways. Should it rhyme? Should it contain the company tagline or slogan? What about trying to include a website URL or phone number? There are some hard, fast rules about jingle creation, however. Simplicity is the biggest. It’s a jingle – not an entire creative brief or billboard. Being clear and concise is key. Listeners shouldn’t have to think too hard to hum or recite it back. Another must is catchiness. Think of Peyton Manning’s Nationwide campaign – Chicken Parm you taste so good, marketed to fit the insurance company’s actual jingle, Nationwide is on your side. That jingle is solid. It’s simple. It’s catchy. It’s a strong message to boot.

A Practicle Example:

In this video, Derek Lee from 104-7 KCLD takes to the streets of Downtown St. Cloud asking random people to name the advertiser in a jingle. Further proof that jingles are a powerful tool for brand recognition and top of mind awareness - especially when used in a radio ad.

Local Clients Using Jingles Effectively

National brands aren’t the only advertising clients using jingles effectively. Local small businesses have adopted jingles as part of their branding strategy with great success. The idea behind a good radio campaign is to always be focused on top of mind awareness – that coveted recall space in consumers’ brains that will lead them to a certain business or service when the time comes. And, making it simple, catchy, and strong.

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Music is a big memory trigger. Music can invoke both emotion and nostalgia. In that same vein, radio advertising with music is an effective marketing strategy. A well-written jingle will stay with consumers, playing on repeat in their heads, helping to achieve in top of mind awareness for your brand.

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