Commercial Music That Works

Remember the days when commercials still had snappy little jingles? Yeah, like this Sparkletts one from years ago*?

Back then, just about every commercial had one and I’m pretty sure if you’re anywhere near my age range, you have your favorites. In fact, just out of memory, I can recite another Sparkletts commercial that I can’t seem to find anywhere (which was also voiced by the same guy in the spot above):

This thirsty man is Harvey Hood
Whose drinking water never tasted good
He used to sneak up on his glass to get him a drink
So he called Sparkletts
And bad taste problems are over, here’s why:
Sparkletts water is the best you can buy
That sparkling smile means Harvey Hood agreed: “Whoop-dee-dee!”
The name on the shirt says Sparkletts, friends
It means good taste and it makes good sense
Me and Sparkletts water making friends
Yes, me and Sparkletts water making friends
Sparkletts brings good-tasting water to a thirsty world!

You see that, ad agencies? I remembered every stinking word even after over 30 years! So what happened? You seem to have strayed away from the memorable jingle and moved on to using songs from my younger years. Is it so uncool to be a little creative and make up something that can be downright silly but in the long run, memorable enough to be whistling decades later?

I guess so. Sorry, but no amount of Human League or Thomas Dolby songs are going to persuade me to buy a kitchen sweeper. It’s just not happening.

That said, I have to admit that not all commercials with songs you know by heart are worth criticizing. No, there are a few that have had just the right song for the right situation, and that made me laugh out loud each time I saw them. So without any further ado, there they are.

Volkswagen: “Mr. Roboto”

Why it works: Admit it, you never saw it coming. Never in a million years did you see that song coming but when you heard it, Jesus, was it funny. It all makes sense once you hear it and seeing the two dufii–my homemade version of the plural form for “dufus”–really getting into the song at the end of the commercial caps it off perfectly. And come on, it’s fuckin’ Styx. Win all the way around.

Volkswagen: “Da Da Da”

Why it works: Trio’s classic tune seems to automatically lend itself to a goofy situation and this commercial definitely captures just that: two guys picking up a chair that ends up not being as clean as they thought. Just brilliant.

Staples: “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”

Why it works: Normally, I’m not a fan of the playing of Christmas music out-of-season. I wasn’t until I saw this commercial which made me spit up a beverage when I first saw it–and we didn’t even have a kid just yet. It’s classic: Dad’s enthusiasm to get the kids back to school and his willingness to help them get what they need, the expression of the kids’ faces…what more do you need?

And as I write this post, the TV’s showing a Chase Freedom credit-card commercial playing the melody and chorus from this song in the background. It never ends…

Unocal: “Burn Rubber”

(Clicky-pop to go to agency’s site and view commercial)

Why it works: With the exception of the Staples commercial, this and all of the other ones I’ve listed here have one thing in common: the unknown. The viewer gets a payoff near the end of the spot and it’s well worth the wait. And it works with them all but especially with Unocal’s aptly named “Soda Jerk” commercial. Besides all that, how damn cool is it to hear The Gap Band in a commercial?

I’ve had my say. Are there any that you wish would go away or you think are brilliant beyond words? Drop your thoughts in the Comments section with links to the commercials if you can find them. I look forward to seeing what you have so please, post away.

*My apologies to those outside of California…

2 thoughts on “Commercial Music That Works

  1. okay–i’m really going to show how old i am here, but the oscar mayer bologna song.

    i still find myself singing that one every now and then.


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