The best jingles and sonic devices (part 1)
A view from Paul Burke

Campaign50: the 50 best jingles and sonic devices (part 1)

As part of Campaign's 50th celebrations, Paul Burke picks the first ten of the best 50 advertising jingles and sonic devices.

Honeybus

Campaign was first published in 1968 and back then if you wanted to advertise a loaf of bread, you dangled a woman from a hot air balloon. Of course you did. But you also commissioned a proper songwriter to write an accompanying tune that would prove so popular that it became a top ten hit. And so memorable that, 50 years later, you still know the words.

Jacques Loussier

Was there ever a more inspired use of music in advertising than this? A French pianist’s obscure jazz interpretation of Bach’s Air on a G String which so deftly captured disaster giving way to delight? In fact, was there ever a more inspired use of advertising?

Simon Greenall

Comparing markets to meerkats was brilliant, the animation always delightful, but what made this campaign one of the UK’s all-time favourites was the vocal genius of Simon Greenall. He came up with an accent and an attitude for the lead character, around which the whole campaign was built. Simples? Go on then, you try it.

Clunk-Click

Highly effective use of onomatopoeia, Clunk-Click remains part of the nation’s lexicon to this day. Jimmy Savile was chosen to front the campaign because in 1971, he really was regarded as Britain’s most trusted personality. Knowing what we know now, watch the way he looks down the lens and says, "Doesn’t matter what you are or who you are." Isn’t that even more chilling than driving a car without a seat belt?

A Finger of Fudge

The very paragon of a catchy and memorable jingle. People can sing it today even if they weren’t born when it first appeared in 1977. Forty years on, of course, you’d never be allowed to say "Full of Cadbury goodness". And you’d probably have to alter the chorus to "A finger of Fudge is just enough to give you type 2 diabetes".

Levi’s

I don’t like the word "iconic". It’s been over-used to the point of descriptive redundancy, but I’ll allow myself a rare use of the I-word to honour Levi’s. Obviously these iconic ads looked fabulous, but they sound fabulous too. They sent half-forgotten gems like this to number one and brought them – along with the 501s they advertised – to a whole new audience. 

Peter & Dervla

Like all the best campaigns, this one for M&S was a perfect confluence of music, voice and vision. The way the food was shot was mesmerising but Peter Green’s ethereal Albatross, complemented by Dervla Kirwan’s sultry tones, matched it frame for frame. Practically every supermarket has since tried to emulate this but they always, always fail. And do you know why? Because they concentrate too much on what you see, but not enough on what you hear.

Pentium

"Successful" doesn’t always mean "enjoyable". Just look at Jose Mourinho. This once-ubiquitous sound was very much the Mourinho of sonic logos. Any tech company that used an Intel Pentium processor in its products was contractually obliged to feature this sound at the end of every commercial. Perhaps Apple’s greatest achievement was to stop using Intel processors and release us forever from this awful aural irritant.

Just One Cornetto

Countless ads have featured familiar songs with the words changed to mention the product, but none as successfully as Cornetto. Mass-produced in a factory just off the A38, the Cornetto is about as Italian as I am, but this astute use of music has convinced millions otherwise. In fact, I wonder how many of them heard Pavarotti singing O Sole Mio and thought, "He’s changed the words of Just One Cornetto."

 

Bill Mitchell

The original "movie trailer man", Bill Mitchell’s extraordinary voice transformed countless commercials in the 70s, 80s and 90s. He looked just like he sounded. Always dressed in black, with shades and a Stetson, Bill was the real deal. You could only book him before lunch because, to put it mildly, he liked a drink. Most afternoons, you’d find him singing in bars around Soho and one afternoon, he invited me to join him at Kettner’s. When I arrived, Bill was suitably refreshed and belting out Delilah. Accompanying him at the piano was Neil Sedaka. So when people tell you that advertising isn’t as much fun as it was, well... they’ve got a point. 

Paul Burke is an award-winning writer and producer

Topics