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Commercial Cycles

| July 9, 2018

Al Herskovitz
H&H Communications


BRADENTON, Fla. — It is fascinating how certain trends in the styles of commercials have disappeared over the years.  Yet they seem to re-appear as the generations go by. Do you recall that the singing commercial  once was the rage over the airwaves? How about this example?:

Pepsi Cola hits the spot.

Twelve full ounces, that’s a lot.

Twice as much for a nickel too,

Pepsi Cola is the drink for you!

There were numerous others – Ajax (the foaming cleanser); Alka Seltzer (plop, plop, fizz, fizz); and on and on.  The products are still here, but the way they are being advertised over the air has changed dramatically.

There were even independent national companies in that long-ago era that produced generic jingles about various retail categories – dry cleaners, department stores, groceries, etc. – that had an open slot in them where the name of the local outfit could be inserted.  They were highly professional and well produced and then pitched to individual radio stations and local advertising agencies.  I recall one such company run by a man whose name became legend – Mitch Leigh.  From this unique business, Leigh went on to write the music for Broadway musicals and scores for popular motion pictures.  His enormous talent did not go to waste.

Then the singing commercial slowly vanished from radio and was replaced by straight talk pitches. They  also were accompanied, during the same period, by  an array of celebrities endorsing products and services.  However, once again, music in commercials has returned only in a different form.  This time in single phrases that either precede the message in the spot or close it out as a stinger or slogan identifier.  I heard  two just while writing this.  Oddly, they were both in the automotive arena. The two of them were for national auto parts retailing chains.  The first one sang only the name – “Auto Zone” –  to both open and close the message.  The second just closed out the spoken commercial with a chorus singing “Oh, Oh, Oh…O’Reilly…Auto Parts!”

And in my listening area there is a very cleverly sung phrase for a regional electrical repair company by the name of Mister Sparky.  Their musical signature is simply – “888-callsparky” – which is their easily remembered telephone number.

However, sneaking into the scene once again is the full singing commercial.  The one currently blanketing the dial is for a product called Febreze.  It’s a household fabric freshening spray and the entire sell-story is sung by a chorus within its 60 seconds.  But it seems as if the company and its advertising agency are not taking any chances by depending only on the singing jingle.  Also included in their schedule are spoken word commercials that are tagged with their musical closing line.

Oh, well, “….la, la, la la la….Febreze!”

Al Herskovitz is president of H&H Communications and a TALKERS marketing consultant.  He can be emailed at:

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Category: Sales