Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Media: Remembering Jingles

TORONTO, ONTARIO - People claiming that broadcast media do not influence them clearly must be very different people than I am. The number of advertising jingles that I know in their entirely from more than twenty years ago is downright scary.

Just as a short list of the top of my head, I remember 30-second jingles used by Safeway, Oberto meats, Cooper tires, and even Ford Motor Company's "Buckle Up!" safety promotions run around holiday weekends, all in the 1980's. Perhaps you consider this to be insane, but if you are at least 30 years old, I bet you can sing the Oscar Meyer jingle.

Furthermore, if you can sing any music that was popular in the 1980's, I fail to see how that is significantly different than remembering a commercial jingle from a cognitive perspective. As a significant listener to commercial radio in that era, I probably heard the advertising spots more than I heard the music, so it isn't surprising that I would remember the ads if I remember the songs.

I can't seem to remember any ads that I've heard here in Ontario in the past few years. There's a simple explanation for that--I listen to almost no commercial radio these days (except through commercial-free podcasts or downloaded files in which commercials can be skipped), only public radio, and hence I don't hear any advertisements. Since I don't own a television, I don't see television ads very often, either.

That fact should be putting a scare into advertisers trying to reach my demographic. There's no sure way to do it anymore--television channels at best reach niche audiences. If television has problems with niches, the Internet is that problem squared. While public radio underwriting in the United States may reach us, the announcement is generally not memorable the way a jingle used to be. Newspapers? You're kidding, right?

No wonder there seem to be billboards on every possible space in this city and wrap ads on everything that moves in this world. They have to reach a general audience somehow--and if my brain is any indication, they'll be trying to belt out noise pollution with jingles at passers-by before long, hoping we'll remember.

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