The Digital Collections team has been watching a lot of commercials lately. In fact, in building the AdViews Collection, we’ve digitized, reviewed, described, and published close to 10,000 vintage television commercials dating from the 1950s to the 1980s. Over the last year, we’ve learned some valuable lessons from our work on AdViews. For example, 10,000 videos require a lot of server space, spreadsheets can be your friend, and most digital projects take longer than you expect. More importantly, though, courtesy of hundreds of jingles, we’ve learned not to squeeze the Charmin, that Cool Whip comes whipped and stays whipped, and that Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down.
A Little Jingle History
More than commercials today, television ads from the 1950s to the 1970s relied heavily on the jingle. According to a trusted source, the jingle is “a memorable short tune with a lyric broadcast used in radio and television commercials which are usually intended to convey an advertising slogan.” While the 1950s marked a “golden age” of the jingle on television, the jingle first appeared on radio during the 1930s as a way to circumvent industry regulations that prohibited direct advertising of products. With a catchy jingle, advertisers could mention a product name during the introduction to a broadcast without explicitly pitching a product.
In the 1950s and 1960s jingles easily made the transition from radio to television. This same period also saw the rise of the “singing commercial,” a longer format version of the jingle. In the last few decades, however, commercially licensed pop songs have slowly replaced jingles in television commercials, but some believe that jingles may be making a comeback.
Whether its a jingle, a singing commercial, or a pop song, researchers classify these “pleasantly melodic, easy to remember hooks” as earworms. They even suggest that women may be more susceptible to earworms than men.
While some jingles from our AdViews Collection are more memorable than others, here are links to our Top 10 favorites.
Top 10 Jingles and Songs from AdViews (available via ITunesU)
- Schick: “Stubble trouble” (1950s)
- Cool Whip: “Yum, yum, yum, Cool Whip, comes whipped.” (possibly the first Cool Whip commercial)
- Western Union: “It’s wise to wire.” (1950s)
- Carling’s Red Cap Ale: “Better than beer.” (1950s)
- Charmin: “Don’t squeeze the Charmin.”(a classic featuring Mr. Whipple)
- Texaco: “You can trust your car to the man who wears the star.” (Spectacular choreographed commercial, 1970s.)
- Sodaburst (by Birdseye) “The real ice cream soda that makes itself at home.” (most bizarre background singing)
- Hasbro: “Hungry Hungry Hippos.”
- Hasbro: “Weebles wobble, but they don’t fall down.” (It’s a hoedown!)
- Hasbro: “Stick shifters, get’em in gear, gonna make a wheelie, gonna disappear.” (Hard rockin’ 70s jingle)