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Advertising Jingles: Marketing Secret Weapon or a Waste of Time?

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

radioEverything you need to know about healthcare marketing jingles but were too busy singing to ask.

Healthcare marketing and advertising gets a boost in effectiveness and greater response using broadcast commercials that include musical jingles. And they're more affordable than in the past. Here are the four basic components and six ways to use healthcare marketing jingles—as you decide if they are right for you.

In our work with an east coast client—a successful medical group—a local television station rep recently introduced us to a specialist in broadcast advertising jingles. The client that we have in common is one of many healthcare organizations, hospitals and medical/dental practices that are using jingles or musical signatures to enhance their ad message.

Although an advertising jingle—a short, custom-created musical slogan—is not suitable for everyone, in the right circumstances it can be highly effective and surprisingly affordable. And since we've never previously published an article on this topic, here's a brief orientation as you consider if advertising jingles are a secret weapon or a waste of time.

Historically, it seems like jingles have been around forever...probably long before broadcasting. But singing commercials emerged in the earliest days of commercial radio in the 1920s. One of the first being, Have You Tried Wheaties?, broadcast on Christmas Eve in 1926.

As advertising legend has it, this singing Wheaties commercial inspired such strong product sales that General Mills—who was planning to end production of the cereal—changed their strategy. Wheaties became a household name brand, and music to sell the message proved its worth.

But there's more than legend in this story. You may be surprised to learn that, despite their seemingly whimsical nature, the effectiveness of musical advertising songs and slogans has been validated by serious academic research.

One such study, published in the Journal of Advertising by marketing researchers at USC, surveyed consumer recall of two television commercials...one with and one without a jingle. The version with a jingle was significantly more memorable with the audience by a wide margin. And a study by researchers at the University of Washington revealed that, even with a single exposure, consumer recall improved by better than 30 percent when a product is branded with a jingle. What's more, consumers remember and even repeat jingles long after they've gone off the air—by decades in some instances—extending brand equity and cost effectiveness.

"Music makes a friendly connection," according to jingle writer and producer Cary Reich at Sound Branding Ideas, "and people like to do business with their friends and people they like. Good Musical Imaging contributes to the healthcare advertiser's brand, image and reputation."

Anatomy of a good jingle...

Reich, who has created hundreds of jingles, says that a good jingle includes these four fundamental components:

The NAME of the business or organization - There's nothing more fundamental than the name you want the audience to remember. 
The DIFFERENTIATION - What is the Unique Selling Proposition (USP) or clearly superior characteristic to be communicated? Music helps differentiate a client from the competition and makes the impression more memorable.
The CONCISE STATEMENT - It's the creative talent that finds the few words and music to bring the name and differentiation together in a short, catchy, memorable statement of something you want the audience to know or do.
The MUSICAL STYLE - What kind of music appeals to the patient or customer? What's the right tempo, feel, genre, etc.? Hint: It's not what appeals to the doctor or client. What's going to catch the ear of the target audience?

Of course the creative challenge, and ultimately the successful results, come from blending these essential elements into the right musical formula using just a few words of lyrics.

What's the cost, and how do you fund a jingle?

One option is to hire a jingle production company and pay them directly. The price tag for original music can range from $5,000 to $24,000 (sometimes more), depending on what you're buying and how and where it will be used.

Another, more attractive option, however, is to pay nothing extra when the cost of the jingle is covered by the broadcast station. The television station pays the freight and includes the jingle as an added value to the media placement contract.

Six ways to get more use from a jingle.

The "musical imaging" of a jingle can be used in several ways, each working in concert (no pun intended) to get the most mileage, value and exposure from the investment. These include:

Broadcast/Commercials - The most obvious use is as part of the radio and/or television commercial message.

Message on Hold - Nobody likes to be "on hold," but when it happens, a jingle can become part of the message to ease the wait and reinforce your brand.

Your Website - There's usually an appropriate place to include your video and/or audio messages on the website; perhaps as a mouse-over with online ads, for example.

Social Media - A jingle can be incorporated in your placements on YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn and others to further extend a consistent online presence.

Ringtones - Personalized music can make an interesting and novel ringtone for your office or for most mobile phones.

In the Office - Sometimes musical signatures can be presented in the office, in the reception area and/or in audio or video presentations of patient information.

Should jingles be part of your broadcast strategy?

Musical jingles have been a valuable tool in advertising for decades, and they are more affordable and cost effective than in the past. Jingles are now being used widely and successfully in marketing for hospitals, dental practices, urgent care clinics, orthopedic surgery groups, vision and eye care and many others. But they may or may not be appropriate in every healthcare marketing situation, so connect with us today for more information and guidance.

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