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Did somebody say Just Eat? Did somebody say Just Eat? I hadn’t said “Just Eat” before, but I’ve been singing it in strangers’ faces for weeks. 

I’ve been dreaming it. Every part of my brain, from the hippocampus through to the occipital lobe, is throbbing in time to it - whump, whump, whump - its staccato notes scratched into my subconscious forever. It’s there, now. Haunting me. Attacking my rational decision-making process with perfect gospel harmonies. 

I’m painfully, rhythmically, unapologetically, hungry for local grease and a lifetime of the ear-worming, finger-clicking conditioning of Did Somebody Say Just Eat?

Screw you, Just Eat. Screw the hell out of you, and fine, I’ll have a beef chow mein, but only because it’s Saturday night and I haven’t eaten since brunch and all of a sudden I’m tapping my feet and I’m hungry. I’m painfully, rhythmically, unapologetically, hungry for local grease and a lifetime of the ear-worming, finger-clicking, fried chicken-delivering, common sense-defying conditioning of

 DID.

                               SOMEBODY.

                                                                       SAY.

                                                                                                 JUST.

                                                                                                                             EAT?

Such is the power of the jingle. 

Just Eat – Did Somebody Say Just Eat

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Battle of the brands

Barry Manilow once referred to jingles as “obnoxious little melodies that won’t leave you alone”.  But these obnoxious little melodies are 27% more likely to report large business effects compared to non-music campaigns (IPA, 2016). 

I’ve been pleasantly surprised by Just Eat’s behaviour, because I think it means something. A comeback. A resurgence. A nod to simpler times. 

Just Eat were unavailable to comment on the immediate sales success of their new creative (despite my LinkedIn messages) so I’ve had to improvise with Google trends. What the numbers are telling me is that from May this year when the campaign landed  ‘did somebody say just eat‘ overtook searches for McDonald’s catchphrase ‘I’m lovin it’ and – here’s the real surprise - saw even more Google searches than the Battle of Marston Moor, which is widely believed to be one of the most significant battles of the English Civil War. 

I’ve been pleasantly surprised by Just Eat’s behaviour, because I think it means something. A comeback. A resurgence. A nod to simpler times. Jingles have existed in ads since the 1920s – General Mills is cited as the jingle’s originator for a breakfast cereal commercial in 1926 - but our ghosts of jingling past are many: I’m a secret lemonade drinker / re-record not fade away / 0891 50 50 50 / For hands that do dishes to be as soft as your face / there’s a magical place we’re on our way there / they’re magically delicious / Maybe it’s Maybelline / refreshes your breath, naturally / Mmmm Danone (a jingle or sonic ident?).

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R Whites Lemonade – Secret Lemonade Drinker

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Toys R Us – Geoffery The Part Time Reindeer

Musical murder

And they’re not just fun, they’re useful. A study conducted by Institute for Marketing Management at the Vienna University of Economics and Business in 2018 found that 74% of people believe jingles help them remember the name of the product they want to buy. Real, robust, unchallengeable maths tells us there’s a formula for the perfect, most memorable marketing tune. 

The internet killed the jingle and should be forced to attend its funeral, standing a hundred metres away as the coffin is lowered, like some shameful secret mistress.

According to signs.com, jingles shorter than 20 seconds in length with fewer than eight words are most likely to make a mark, sticking in people’s heads better than a bloody axe in the Battle of Marston Moor. In short, it works. And it did. The 80s and 90s gave us jingles that’ll last a lifetime but then, the noughties happened. The American Association of Advertising Agencies found that in 1998 11% of all ads had jingles, but in 2011 this had fallen to just 2%. 

We got too edgy [with] our lustful pursuit of trends over originality, chasing the new and reflecting the zeitgeist.

Why? Well it’s the bloody internet, isn’t it. The internet killed the jingle and should be forced to attend its funeral, standing a hundred metres away as the coffin is lowered, like some shameful secret mistress. A 2018 study from the IPA and [marketing research company] System1 Group found that ‘fluent devices’ – those distinctive, recognisable elements in brand advertising, including jingles – have declined sharply in the last few years. 

Now, less than 10% of brands uses a fluent device, despite their proven effectiveness and ability to give campaigns creative cohesion. System1 argue our obsession with relevance and personalisation online has created reams of wallpaper. Ads that look the same that do the same job and use the same proven combination of copy. It’s a common product-first, brand-second ecommerce mentality.

I’ve received many briefs from brands wanting to ‘align themselves with music’, and this is a problematic request. Music is a big word and alignment a complicated process. 

For a while, many marketers just got Jessie J to promote their products. But no amount of alignment beats doing it yourself. 

And we got too edgy, didn’t we. Our lustful pursuit of trends over originality, chasing the new and reflecting the zeitgeist, drooling over cool instead of consistency has seen catchy, snappy ditties lose their appeal. However, I hate to break it to you guys but the world ain’t getting any cooler.  Sitting in the top ten YouTube chart of last year were videos with titles like ‘yanny or Laurel,’ ‘walmart yodeling kid’ and ‘build swimming pool around underground house’. Kylie Jenner’s audio visual ode to her baby daughter was number one. I like Kylie Jenner, but she’s no Greta Gerwig.  

Above: Jessie J.


Let's do align

Is it also laziness? Over the years I’ve received many briefs from brands wanting to ‘align themselves with music’, and this is a problematic request. Music is a big word and alignment a complicated process. 

For a while, many marketers just got Jessie J to promote their products. But no amount of alignment beats doing it yourself. For example, Starcom and Electric Live delivered a lovely musical experience for international icon Jean Paul Gaultier at Brighton Pride. In the spirit of standing out we unleashed a 50-piece marching band dressed in sailor outfits playing Kylie songs onto Brighton’s streets, giving out spot prize tickets and scented rainbow wristbands, with an instrumental brass version of Can’t Get You Out of My Head available to stream on Spotify

When people ask me what the future of advertising is, I say jingles. Because I know nobody else is going to say that, and it’s important to differentiate yourself.

Watching the crowds go wild along the promenade when they heard a pack of trumpets and drummers playing Locomotion was one of the proudest moments of my career (hat tip to Claire Toland and team who managed it). I’m not sure it was cool, but it was catchy AF. Damn, it was almost as catchy as the typhoid that wiped out most of Cromwell’s soldiers in the Battle of Marston Moor. 

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Above: The Jean Paul Gaultier musical experience at Brighton Pride.

All together now...

So, when people ask me what the future of advertising is, I say jingles. Because I know nobody else is going to say that, and it’s important to differentiate yourself. But I think it’s time we all grew up and started having fun again. Give jingles a second chance. Did somebody say Just Eat? Yes! Let’s all say it. Sing it. On soapboxes! With our tongues in our cheeks and vocal chords lubed. 

Believe it or not, shoppers love it when we don’t take ourselves too seriously. And amongst all the over-engineered Shoreditch cool, under eight words of musical mnemonic could cause the coolest thing ever: that in the battle of the brands and uncivil war for consumers, it’s you they can’t get out of their heads. 

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