Posts Tagged ‘oldsmobile’

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The “first” jingle & the practice of licensing

February 21, 2008

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The “first” jingle was for/by General Mills’ Wheaties in 1926.
To download the mp3 of this jingle, click here. (Note, link takes you to a new page).
As the story goes, General Mills were ready to shut down the Wheaties brand due to poor sales. However they noticed spikes in sales figures in certain areas – the same areas where a song about Wheaties was being broadcast on radio.
This has then been considered to be the “first” jingle because it was created purely as a song to sell the brand, and it served no other purpose on the radio.

However as you can see from the quotation marks around “first”, there’s more to tell. It’s true that the Wheaties jingle was the first song created solely to sell (at least to our knowledge in the 20th century), but the idea is not new.
Prior to the Wheaties jingle, there were certain restrictions in the medium of radio which prohibited direct advertising (what the Wheaties jingle was). This forced brands to use new ways of advertising. One way was through sponsorship, and there were two types which relate to sonic branding.
The first was where a brand sponsors an orchestra to play music as part of the programming (here we have bands such as the Vick’s VapORub Quartet). Although this wouldn’t be branding in the strictest sense, it was a primitive form where where the choice of music reflected the brand (brand association).
The second form of sponsorship relates more to the evolution of the jingle. Again, brands couldn’t advertising directly yet, but they could sponsor a programme such as a radio serial with the stipulation that the theme song mention the brand name/product; This was basically product placement in the early 20th century.

So you see the Wheaties jingle wasn’t the first jingle, but it was the first to take the form of direct advertising….there’s even more though.

Another contender for the first radio jingle, is one from/by Oldsmobile. Oldsmobile premiered their jingle in the mid 1920s (roughly around the same time as Wheaties), however they had been using the same song since 1908 (pre-commercial radio). In the absence of radio, this song was sang by employees, and taught to consumers.Now surely this means that the Oldsmobile jingle should be considered the “first” jingle… well, yes and no.
You see, Oldsmobile had nothing to do with the creation of their jingle. It was a song written by Gus Edwards and Vincent Bryan in 1905 for their own purposes (back in a time when it was popular to give songs a narrative. The Oldsmobile brand is used as part of the narrative). A few years later in 1908, Oldsmobile caught wind of the songs popularity and decided to buy it off Edwards and Bryan.As a result, when compared to Wheaties, Oldsmobile didn’t have a jingle, they had one of the first licensed song in the history sonic branding.

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