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The Midweek Motivator – Jingles Dead? Hardly!

Worth retrieving, a while back Coleman’s John Boyne commented on the disposition that “jingles are passé.” It was a highly relevant piece based on fact and the human anatomy. Boyne commented that some among us mistakenly view jingles as old school, ineffective, even unnecessary in the cacophony of today’s media messaging. In short, it’s a false perception leading us to missed opportunity regarding the science of memory. John’s opinion was dead-center correct: science proves things we hear are processed four time longer than what we see!

Michigan’s highly regarded State Police Research found “only 2 or 10 witnesses to a car accident remember seeing the same thing, while 8 out of 10 remember hearing the same thing! We have that data if you’re interested; a striking endorsement for the power of “audio.”

Consider human anatomy. Fact: the Ear is the only organ that isn’t selective. Short of deafness, if it can be heard, it can be processed. Next, there’s the question of “melody” and the Brain…an exercise to “fill in the blanks”:  Like a Good Neighbor _____ is there. You deserve a break today…at______. How about _____ The San Francisco Treat or, I want my Baby Back, Baby Back, Baby Back ribs? Then there’s the CBS 60 Minutes tickingstopwatchand the unmistakable Fox Sports’ brassy “rejoin ramp” during NFL telecasts…each unmistakable and inextricably locked into our memory!

Earlier in my career I was thrilled to become the VP of Sales for the globally respected TM Companies (Dallas) where award winning writers like Tom Merriman and other creators crafted their magic music signatures for radio stations across the US and around the world, and for brands like American Airlines and Maxwell House. Merriman was a genius; he could rough-out a music score in a Cab on the way to Ogilvy & Mather… I watched Tom do it.

Later as I entered the national programming scene I was forever convinced when done-right, from the music score to the singers’ session and mix-outs, truly exceptional jingle themes stick in our minds driving remembrance. And, since that process is a physiological equation, if you’re wondering about the case for station or client’s music themes, wonder no longer: trends change but human cognitive physiology doesn’t. Obviouslywe should contemporize our message making retention even stronger, while underscored with a melodic signature seeking an impact equivalent to Nike’s “swoosh”.

Looking back at that John Boyne article, it also pointed to the effectiveness of theme music on the Serial Podcast; that song has been played nearly 300,000 times on YouTube. “Shouldn’t it be shelved for fatigue?” asks Boyne tongue-in-cheek?. It’s no different for a station or network voice; you may not know his name but LA’s Howard Cogan became the Jack FM voice; reasonably unknown at the time yet easily recognized by Jack FM listeners!

Obviously there are Radio formats where jingles have never been a fit: Triple-A, Classical, Mainstream or Active Rock as examples; based solely on those formats’ quest for differentiation.  

John Boyne was right; in today’s crowded arena seeking brand recognition and retention, if it doesn’t stick, it doesn’t count.