Tag Archives: TV commercials

Jingle warfare

The last two days’ posts were all about phobias and crisis, so maybe it’s time to brighten things up.

Being that I’m one of the few people left on the planet who doesn’t DVR, I still see a fair number of television commercials, or at least hear the jingles in the background. Then I hear the jingles while I’m trying to fall asleep at night.

There was a time when jingles used to be clever and snappy. It didn’t matter if they got stuck in your head. Advertisers ensured the ditties equaled product appeal. We remember that Choo Choo Charlie was an engineer. Good & Plenty candies made his train run. I’m betting you can remember the intervening rhymes. We also knew that if I were an Oscar Mayer wiener, everyone would be in love with me.

In an 2010 interview for Forbes.com, Linda Kaplan Thaler, CEO and chief creative officer of advertising agency Kaplan Thaler Group, said, “A jingle is not successful if you listen to it once and like it. You have to listen to it and want to sing it. Essentially you become the advertiser for the brand.” She’s right.

Lately, though, it seems that ad jingles are spectacularly annoying. I’d bet they clank in the average consumer’s head more persistently than the clever ones. And the fact that the quality of the singing is so much worse makes us want to dig Melanie’s “Brand New Key” out of our record crypts, just so we can find a more grating song to replace the obnoxious jingles echoing in our brains. By the way, “Brand New Key” has always been my nomination for the song most likely to power a psychological warfare campaign to induce surrender by the most stubborn of enemies. But the U.S. military doesn’t consult me on such matters.

I’ll nominate four modern-day jingles for your consideration and you can decide for yourself which would win the Most-Worthy-of-Psycho-Warfare award.

Cast your vote today:

  1. Bisquick
  2. Xfinity
  3. Truvia
  4. NAPA
  5. Other; please specify.


Filed under Marketing/Advertising/PR, Movies, Television and Radio, Music

One less product to buy

Do we really need to go over this?

I have received suggestions from readers that I review the rule for “fewer” versus “less.”  I confess, I dismissed these because the rule is clear and I assumed most people knew the difference.  I am sorry to say I was wrong.

Last week I said I wouldn’t be taking Boniva or buying Honey Bunches of Oats for the same reason:  my boycott of products whose commercials contain grammatical errors.  Now I must add to the list MGD 64, the dieters’ version of Miller Genuine Draft.  According to its current television commercial, MGD 64 has “less calories” than other reduced-calorie beers.

I am too tired to rant again so soon over the ad industry’s growing disregard for correct language.  Instead, might I just ask, why not say “fewer calories?”   I am tempted to believe it is less an oversight than it is a presumption that “fewer” flies over the heads of Miller’s target demographic.  Please tell me I’m wrong.

Is it possible that advertising companies intentionally use poor grammar to appeal to a specific class of consumers?  The ad gurus at Grey Poupon hit their high-brow target with their famous commercial years ago.  Pardon me, but it seems Miller is deliberately going for a less sophisticated crowd with its overt illiteracy.

Everyone knows “less” refers to an amount of something, as in less beer.  “Fewer” refers to a number of something, as in “fewer calories.” 

Less snow, fewer snowflakes.  Less hair, fewer strands.  Yes, got it.

Now can we move on to something a little less obvious?

Postscript:  Speaking of intentional poor grammar, am I the only one wondering why yesterday South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham phrased his question to Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, “Where were you at on Christmas Day?”  He knows better.


Filed under All Things Wordish, Food, Marketing/Advertising/PR