Now that we have a jingle, we’re looking into the jingle universe and we’ve found some amazing things.
Cruzio’s Jingle Champ Tim Hartnett is in good company. Another jingle writer was Brian Jones, who wrote a Rice Crispies tune performed by his little band, the Rolling Stones, with Mick Jagger singing the lyrics.
And there’s more. Maybe the most famous jingle writer was none other than 80s pop idol Barry Manilow. Brian Jones’s ditty didn’t crack the ear-worm barrier into a tune you find yourself incessantly humming, but Manilow was more effective: among his successes: “Stuck on Bandaid” and “Like a Good Neighbor” (Statefarm) and McDonalds’ “You Deserve a Break Today”. Yup, that was Barry Manilow, of “Copacabana” and “I Write the Songs” pop ballad success in the 70’s.
We haven’t seen the Rolling Stones promoting their former jingle creations, but Manilow’s not ashamed. All the Manilow jingles are listed on his website and he sings them in his concerts. You’ve probably heard a lot of them, because a good jingle is forever. But Manilow didn’t write the Nationwide song that Manning and Brad Paisley hum on countless commercials. Who wrote that one?
That would be Steve Karmen, “King of the Jingle,” who’s much better known for jingles than for his non-commercial songwriting. The Nationwide jingle was the fourth one he wrote and no, he doesn’t get paid every time it’s aired. He was paid up front and probably regrets that deal. Manilow, too: he got paid $500 for the McDonalds jingle that’s on the air constantly to this day.
Did anyone else become famous writing a jingle for a contest, like the one Cruzio just had? Why, yes!
Do you ever “wish you had an Oscar Meyer Weiner?” If so, you can thank Richard Trentlage. In 1962, he entered a contest and produced one of the most epic jingles of all time. He got famous, the Weiners sold like hotcakes (tbh how fast do hotcakes sell these days?), the jingle lives on and on. As it was with so many jingles.
So What Happened to Jingles?
If feels like the drift started with “I’d like to Teach the World to Sing” from 1971. Was this the first non-jingle jingle? The lyrics were written by an advertising executive, but it fit the groovy mood of the day. It even became a hit song after the writers added a few more verses. (Will Cruzio’s jingle take off in this way?)
Then jingles dwindled, at least for big corporations. In the 80s, they started paying pop stars like Michael Jackson, rather than bland B actors, to drink soda and drive cars. Musicians started seeing the benefit of airplay, and got over the bad taste of commercialization. Companies that own musicians’ catalogs saw even less downside. At first, companies tried to commission existing popular songs. Then, flipping the tables, now many songs get popular after they’re in commercials, rather than before.
Kars4Kids — Not Just Annoying
There are still jingles, but the quality has declined. Some companies resurrect old jingles to be funny (like Nationwide), and the old favorites come up from time to time nostalgically, but new ones are rare. And those that do make it onto TV are pretty awful.
A candidate for “worst jingle ever” these days is Kars4Kids, which is played incessantly nationwide. Nearly every jingle Cruzio received in our contest was more listenable than this one. Most people probably do not like this jingle. But according to Charity Navigator, Kars4Kids took in over $77 million in contributions in 2018!
According to Charity Watch, Kars4Kids is at best misleading and, to some critics, a downright scam. A lot of jingle-generated donations go to a very small number of “kids.” Which somehow fits in with their awful jingle.
Cruzio’s Jingle: A Force for Good
Cruzio’s jingle, of course, will only be used for good. We like that it urges people to “get connected.” It’s a little like standing on a mountaintop, hand in hand, teaching the world to sing.