Thursday, March 6, 2003
Jingles Aren’t Forgotten
By ROGER M. GRACE
Television advertisers during the 1950s relied heavily on “jingles”—short commercial pitches set to music sometimes called “singing commercials.” This was, of course, a carry-over from radio on which words had to be what counted, there being no pictures.
TV eventually got away from that. One of these days some advertising agency wizard will discover that while catchy phrases such as “Where’s the beef?” will sometimes become memorable, those portions of commercials which are most apt to be etched in memories are the jingles.
Dinah Shore is remembered for her blowing a kiss to her audience at the end of her Sunday night show on NBC (seen locally from 9-10), emitting a sound something along the lines of “Mmmmwayyhh.” Still bouncing in viewers’ minds is at least the first line of the tune she belted out preceding the kiss:
“See the U.S.A. in your Chevrolet,
“America is asking you to call;
“Drive your Chevrolet through the U.S.A.
“America’s the greatest land of all….”
I have no doubt but that I’ve seen Chevrolet commercials on television or seen Chevy ads in newspapers or magazines in the ensuing decades. But I have no distinct recollection of any of them. Do you? But after all these years, the jingle is remembered.
Indeed, much of what “Madison Avenue” propagated in the 1950s is still serving clients today.
Buffalo Bob Smith used to sing this non-rhyming Colgate ditty on the “Howdy Doody” show:
“Brush your teeth with Colgate, Colgate Dental Cream.
“It cleans your breath—what a toothpaste!
“While it cleans your teeth.”
Well, I still use Colgate’s toothpaste. Buffalo Bob never said to stop.
Do you remember where Coast Federal Savings was located? If you were in L.A. during the early days of television, you probably do. There was this couplet, set to a tune with a strong beat:
“Coast Federal saves you more,
“Ninth and Hill on the ground floor.”
(It continued: “Open your savings account at Coast — Coast Federal Savings.”)
I’m certain I’d have no recollection of where “Music City” (a record shop) used to be if were it not for the renderings by various recording artists of these words, set to a lullaby: “It’s Music City, Sunset and Vine.”
More recently, the technique of turning an address into a jingle was applied by a car dealer. Viewers were enticed in the 1980s into singing along as a ball bounced on the words:
“Pete Ellis Dodge, Long Beach Freeway, Firestone Exit, South Gate.”
During the 1950s and into the ’60s, Chick Lambert did live spiels for a car dealer, with his German Shepherd, Storm, accompanying him. (I recall on one all-night movie show, Lambert, apparently to relieve concerns that had been expressed, assured viewers that Storm did get plenty of sleep during the day.) It was Lambert’s commercials which Cal Worthington was parodying in the 1960s—as he continued to do for decades—in presenting “my dog, Spot.”
There was Worthington’s voice-over—“I will stand upon my head, ’Til my ears are turning red”—followed by a vocalist chanting: “Go see Cal; Go see Cal; Go see Cal.” Can it be doubted that the jingle rendered Worthington’s pitches far more memorable, and his sales brisker, than they would otherwise have been?
I can’t remember what car dealership Lambert touted. There was no jingle.
Of course, singing commercials, alone, didn’t assure advertisers the longevity Worthington’s used car lots have had. Coast Federal and Music City are long gone.
So are many products—though the melodies linger on. Do you remember this jingle?:
“Give him Dr. Ross Dog Food, do him a favor.
“It’s got more meat and it’s got more flavor.
“Dr. Ross Dog Food is dog-gone good!
How about this one, set to the beat of a tom-tom?:
“From the Land of Sky Blue Waters, waters,
“From the land of pines, lofty balsam,
“Comes the beer refreshing,
“Hamm’s, the Beer Refreshing.”
One of the few remaining jingles used by a national advertiser is one introduced on radio in the 1930s:
“Mmm, mmm good. Mmm, mmm good.
“That’s what Campbell’s Soups are, mmm, mmm good.”
But no more does Pepsodent melodically advise us that we’ll “wonder where the yellow went” if we use its product, no more do four singing mechanics trot out to tout Texaco, and no more is the musical question asked, “Who do you know, who do you know, who do you know, who doesn’t like Kellogg’s Corn Flakes?”
Copyright 2003, Metropolitan News Company
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