The best jingles and sonic devices (part 2)
A view from Paul Burke

Campaign50: The best jingles and sonic devices (part 2)

As part of Campaign's 50th celebrations, Paul Burke presents the second instalment of the best 50 advertising jingles and sonic devices.

Keith Potger

You have to admire the sheer audacity of Keith Potger. As one of The Seekers, he’d been hugely successful in the 1960s. So when The Seekers disbanded, he simply put together a very similar combo, called them The New Seekers and became their manager. And, in 1971, he struck gold. This US ad for Coca-Cola was a global sensation, so Keith got The New Seekers to record a Coke-free version called I’d Like To Teach The World to Sing. It shot straight to number one, subliminally re-enforcing the nation’s thirst for Coke. This was the first joint venture between the advertising and music industries and it allowed Potger and Coke to make their millions "in perfect harmony".

Michael Pasternak

Michael Pasternak, aka Emperor Rosko, delivered Pepsi’s rasping response to Coca-Cola. In the early 1970s, UK radio was a lot more human. No pre-recorded voices saying "10 songs in a row" or "Your relaxing music mix"; DJs could play and say whatever they liked. Especially Rosko. He had a lexicon of his own, with tunes that he liked receiving long and exuberant descriptors. In one of the most brilliant endlines ever, he described Pepsi in a similarly unforgettable fashion. Suddenly, Coke and hilltop hippies didn’t seem so cool.

Vorsprung durch technik

In the early 1980s, a lot of people thought Audi was an Italian marque. Which, back then, was not a good thing. German cars were seen as far superior, so Audi’s first task was to establish its Teutonic credentials. "Vorsprung durch technik", or "Progress through technology", was an Audi company motto that was brilliantly co-opted into an endline. It was made even better by its delivery with wry, English irony by Geoffrey Palmer. "Vorsprung durch technik" was the first step to Audi’s unassailable reputation for quality and reliability. Just a shame about the people who drive them.

Wynne Evans

GoCompare is responsible for one of the most successful UK advertising campaigns of all time. All despite an old-fashioned jingle, corny scripts and a ridiculous brand spokesman with the even cornier name of Gio Compario. The key to its success is its creators’ dedication to sound. Wynne Evans, who plays Gio, is a properly trained opera singer. His voice is phenomenal, so nothing in any ad break will ever compare to his sheer sonic power. There have been lame attempts to kill Gio off, but he always makes a triumphant return. It’s said that, in any opera, someone has to die; not in this case.

Michael Winner

It’s the tale the advertising industry cannot bear to tell. The Esure marketer was having lunch with his old chum Michael Winner and was bemoaning his agency’s failure to come up with an effective TV campaign. With characteristic arrogance, Winner told him that he would write, direct and star in one that, he assured Mr Esure, would be a sensation. The campaign was abysmal, but within it were three words of genius: "Calm down, dear." It was a catchphrase so instantly successful that the prime minister quoted it in the House of Commons. The dreadful campaign was indeed a sensation, further infuriating adland. Winner, however, had only three words for any fulminating critic. Can you guess what they are?

Léo Delibes 

The French composer wrote Lakmé, which contained the Flower Duet that’s now forever known as the "British Airways music". With the possible exception of Hamlet, it’s hard to think of a piece of music so perfectly associated with an advertiser, even years after BA had stopped using it. The Flower Duet was even played as passengers boarded BA flights to assuage the discomfort of flying economy. But do you know BA’s favourite thing about this music? Over a hundred years old and out of copyright, it wouldn’t have cost the company a penny. 

Timothy Spall

This was a happy accident of good casting. Tim Spall is a brilliant actor but, on this occasion, he wasn’t acting – he just happened to say "Wickes" in an oddly memorable way. Now, it’s practically impossible to say that word any other way. You only have to mention Wickes and someone will repeat it with that distinctive Spall-like delivery. Word of mouth has always been the best form of advertising and could word of mouth be any more literal than this? 

Enya

This is one of the most lauded and awarded commercials ever. The choice of music was inspired, since it allows you to ignore the fact that, despite its D&AD black Pencil, this Volvo Trucks ad is appallingly written: "Body crafted to perfection",  "Pair of legs engineered"… However, you’re so in thrall to the visuals and the music that you barely notice. There are countless examples of good music disguising bad words. For instance, Thin Lizzy’s Jailbreak: "Tonight, there’s going to be a jailbreak somewhere in this town." Hmm. The jail’s a pretty good bet.

Cliff Adams

In the 1960s and 1970s, Cliff Adams was "king of the jingle". One of his most famous compositions was the dramatic, 007-esque Milk Tray theme. I first saw this ad – just before Diamonds Are Forever – at the Gaumont State Cinema in Kilburn. It was a seminal moment. I gazed up at the enormous screen and thought: "That’s what I want to do." Not to make ads or become a brave, buccaneering adventurer. No, I just wanted to eat a whole box of Milk Tray. 

The Bachelors

Cadbury’s Smash Martians commercial is rightly regarded as one of the greatest ads of all time. Not least because of its perfect finish, with a jingle written by Cliff Adams (again). Just four words and three chords, it was sung in the style of The Bachelors, a popular Irish singing trio who were very much the Westlife of their day. The jingle was simple, catchy and perfectly delivered. You can still buy Smash, but it’s no longer made by Cadbury. It’s now made by – ooh, here comes another perfect ending – Batchelors.

Paul Burke is an award-winning writer and producer

Topics