7 TV Commercial Jingles You Can’t Stop Singing

The whole point of a jingle is that you won’t forget it (and will eventually buy the product it’s trying to help sell). Some of these earworms might drive you mad. Others you may like—and when you find out who’s written them, you might be surprised. Barry Manilow started writing jingles as a job before he became a soft rock legend. Justin Timberlake was already one of the biggest singers on the planet when one of the biggest brands on the planet spent over a billion dollars on a campaign featuring him.

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Below is a list of seven jingles you can’t stop singing to yourself once they’ve entered your consciousness.

1. State Farm – “Like a Good Neighbor” (1971)

Barry Manilow once said working in the jingle industry was the best music college he could imagine. He wrote a bunch of successful jingles—and you probably know most of them. Manilow was paid $500 for the State Farm jingle. It was a work-for-hire piece, meaning the writer (infuriatingly for Manilow) doesn’t get residuals.

[RELATED: Who Wrote Barry Manilow’s “I Write the Songs?”]

2. SpaghettiOs – “Uh-Oh, SpaghettiOs” (1965)

Campbell Soup Company hired Jimmie Rodgers to write a jingle for their canned pasta rings. He reconditioned a hook from his song, “Oh-Oh, I’m Falling in Love Again,” first released in 1958, for the jingle.

The neat, round spaghetti you can eat with a spoon
Uh-oh! SpaghettiOs!

The slogan first featured in a SpaghettiOs commercial in 1965 that also included another slogan: “The Best Invention Since the Napkin!” The “Uh-Oh” jingle was so popular that Rodgers closed his shows with it.

3. Subway – “Five Dollar Foot Long” (2008)

A primary goal in marketing is to have a clear message. Say it simple. Make it impossible to forget. So if you are tasked with writing a jingle to sell a footlong sandwich for five dollars, how should it go?

Five… Five dollar… Five-dollar foot looong.

And you say it over and over and over again. MMB ad agency in Boston wrote the jingle, and they made sure nobody missed the message.

What’s interesting about this Subway jingle is it has a slight melancholy tinge to it. It falls on the “…looong.” You can almost hear Damon Albarn singing this one.

4. Nationwide – “Nationwide Is on Your Side” (1967)

TV commercials were growing in popularity in the late ’60s. Nationwide, working with Ogilvy, Benson & Mather, wanted to put their slogan to music. The slogan, “Nationwide is on your side,” had been in use since 1964.

In 1967, Steve Karmen composed the seven-note advertising hook that become one of the biggest earworms in the history of capitalism. For proof of its timelessness, check out H.E.R. getting on this classic below.

5. Folgers – The Best Part of Wakin’ Up (1984)

Leslie Pearl wrote this jingle, which also goes by the name “Real Snowy Morning.” Pearl wrote jingles for Pepsi and Ford, too. She’s had songs recorded by Crystal Gayle, Kenny Rogers, and Aretha Franklin. In later years, future royalties to the Folgers jingle were purchased for more than $90,000.

6. Ricola – “Riiiicolaaaaa” (1994)

Ricola, a Swiss cough drop maker, wanted to expand globally but faced tough competition from Vicks and Halls. What does the underdog cough drop maker do? They bring in a yodeler and someone else to play the alphorn, of course. And they stand by a mountain in the Alps and shout: Riiiicolaaaaa!

7. McDonald’s – I’m Lovin’ It (2003)

This one isn’t your jingle’s jingle. A complex and intriguing story follows the five very famous McDonald’s ad notes ba da ba-ba-ba. Heye & Partner, a German ad agency, beat out 13 other agencies to produce McDonald’s’ new campaign. The agency worked with a German music house called Mona Davis Music to write the jingle. Tom Batoy, the president of Mona Davis, heard a vocalist sing the melody in a studio and thought it was something everyone would remember. He wasn’t wrong.

Justin Timberlake was introduced to McDonald’s by Steve Stoute, a music and marketing executive. As Stoute put it, the brand reverse-engineered the campaign by releasing the track as a Justin Timberlake song. That’s how it was introduced to the world. First, Justin. Then, McDonald’s. The song is credited to Batoy and his business partner, Franco Tortora, Andreas Forberger, a creative director for Heye & Partner, and Pharrell Williams. The Neptunes produced the track.

And that’s not the end of the story. Pusha T claims to have been involved in the process, too, but Batoy denies this. Stoute, though, in a radio interview, alludes to Pusha T’s indeed being involved. A true McMystery!

Photo: Courtesy of Varela Media

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