Do Jingles Hold the Key to Wooing Consumers, Or Are They Just Humming Tunes?


Airtel’s memorable jingle ‘444’, MTN’s ‘Saka I don Port’, Indomie’s ‘To me, To you’, Minimee Noodles’ ‘Bam bam lala’ and Milo’s ‘Kpa Kpa Kpa’  are some jingles that have all etched themselves into the collective memory of viewers over the years. However, in this engaging piece, Udochi Mbalewe questions the true effectiveness of these jingles in capturing the attention and loyalty of the Nigerian consumer. In the article, she prompts us to consider whether these jingles are primarily a form of entertainment or if they genuinely drive consumer engagement and purchasing decisions.

Who Needs Subtlety When You’ve Got Jingles?

If you’ve watched the slightest amount of TV, you must be familiar with this: A TV programme abruptly halts, making way for an advertisement (ad) that bursts onto the screen with a catchy hook, a rhythmic beat, and a memorable tagline.

While many viewers might see this as just a momentary distraction, for creative directors and marketers like myself, it is a chance to evaluate the ad creativity, dissecting it like a coach critiquing an opposing team’s strategy. But within our ‘noble’ critical analysis lies a burning question: Could we truly do better if we were the ones behind such advertising?

At first listen, these kinds of Jingle ads, such as Viva detergent with the “Viva oo Viva” and “Too sure… No be Wash oo”, resonate with three different audiences in three distinctive ways.

For the first group of listeners, these jingle ads might come across as somewhat juvenile. They may initially dismiss them as mere childish rhymes without much substance.

The second group of people, though indifferent at the beginning, experiences a subtle curiosity toward the ads. They neither find them captivating nor boring, but there’s an underlying sense of interest that keeps them from tuning out completely. Gradually, they succumb to the persuasive power of its repetitive plays and find themselves loving it.

Lastly, there’s the third faction of listeners who are instantly enamoured at the first encounter with these jingle ads. For them, it’s love at first sound. They may find themselves humming the tunes even in the most unexpected moments. However, regardless of which group a listener falls into, jingle ads require careful navigation.

In my personal experience, I’ve shifted between these three perspectives depending on the specific ad. However, I’ve recently noticed a tilt toward the first viewpoint. While jingles undeniably work for products like the playful “To me, To you” jingle for Indomie noodles, the delightful “Bam bam lalala” by Minimee, or the iconic “Kpa Kpa Kpa” Milo jingle, they sometimes falter when targeting adults seeking practicality, value, and a brand connection that aligns with their lifestyle. This reveals the challenge of jingle ads.

Jingles Subtle Influence?

I once worked with a boss who proudly declared himself immune to the captivating power of ads, especially jingles. Like him, I too believed I was too vigilant, informed, and discerning to be influenced by mere advertising tactics. However, upon closer examination, I’ve come to realise that our immunity might not be as solid as we think, and perhaps my perspective, like my former boss’s, is flawed.

You see, effective marketing goes beyond simple ad campaigns; it taps into psychology and human behaviour. The age-old adage “the patient dog eats the fattest bone” holds true in successful marketing—it doesn’t always yield immediate results.

Jingles play a pivotal role in brand recall. Even if we don’t realise it, hearing a jingle repeatedly can etch a brand’s name in our minds. Take Viva’s ad, for example; even though the ad might have stopped airing, its jingle’s effect lingers whenever we think of buying detergent. This is no coincidence—brands strive to become the first thing that pops into our minds whenever we need something they offer. It is also a very potent tool for lesser-known brands that lack the luxury of widespread recognition.

But it begs the question—do we hear jingles all the time because companies can’t come up with creative ideas for ad campaigns? or are they capitalising on consumers’ predisposition to repetitions because our brains are wired to seek familiarity and pattern that over time creates a sense of comfort and trust in the brand, and subtly influence our decisions?

Perhaps it is the latter.  Repetition aids memory formation. It moves information from short-term memory to long-term memory, ensuring that brands stay with us even when the ad campaign ends. The more we hear a jingle, the more ingrained it becomes in our memory, making it readily available when we need it. Consider the case of the Close Up brand, a name that has seamlessly woven itself into the fabric of Nigerian households, at times even used interchangeably with the term “toothpaste.” Close Up, despite its enduring presence, has maintained a consistent presence through TV, social media, and promotional activities. This dedication to maintaining their visibility might be a significant factor contributing to their enduring success.

Cracking the Consumer Behaviour Code

As humans, much of what we do is driven by emotions and behaviours that boost our self-image, making us feel good and appear strong, competent, and intelligent. Surprisingly, this emotional aspect often outweighs what we perceive as logical and rational thinking.

Understanding this human tendency unlocks various angles to crack the code of effective advertising. One such angle is capturing our curiosity. When an ad sparks curiosity and makes us wonder where it’s leading, it triggers a response like “How come I don’t know where this is going?” or “I need to decode this!” On the other hand, when an ad falls flat, becomes monotonous, or endlessly repetitive, it fails to excite our brains. These are the key pillars that advertisers can leverage to engage different audiences. Some ads succeed by being humorous, others by being entertaining, some appeal to our intellect, and some stir our emotions. Some ads are even masterful in blending various elements, such as comedy and entertainment, to create a unique fusion I like to call ‘jingusic.’

Let’s take a closer look at the iconic “Saka, I don port oo for MTN in 2009” ad. It brilliantly captures the essence of both jingles and music, merging them into an irresistible jingusic experience. The ad perfectly blends humour, entertainment, and a catchy tune, leaving a lasting impression on viewers.

Another example that comes to mind is the Peak ad with the memorable line, “Papilo, one day I know you go make us proud.” This ad, too, taps into our emotions, celebrating the triumphs of our heroes and inspiring us.

Can we Combine Jingles With Alternative Branding Techniques to Make a Great Win?

Creating jingles is no small feat; it requires a delicate balance of creativity, client collaboration, and risk-taking by advertising agencies. Exploring different music styles, teaming up with talented lyricists to craft those catchy tunes that stick in your head, cleverly incorporating key brand elements into the lyrics and shooting the video is quite the job. However, despite the effort, there are instances where the payoff might not match expectations, especially when limitations like limited creative scope, homogeneity, and cultural gaps can lead to diminishing returns.

Nevertheless, there’s a potent strategy to ensure jingles meet marketing objectives, and that’s by infusing them with unconventional techniques—particularly the trio of storytelling, unique personalities, and enchanting musical beats. Even combining any two of these elements can yield impressive results.

Let’s take a look at Nigerian ads, especially the oldies, where this blend shines bright.

MTN’s *737# campaign is like a jingle fiesta on steroids! Cobhams nailed it with that catchy “oooh *737#” hook, pulling us right into the fun and playful storyline. The whole ad is like a fun rollercoaster ride with creative cinematography, a vibrant tempo, and lyrics that just stick in your head. It’s the kind of ad that speaks to everyone, from the hip millennials to Generation X. And when they throw in those Afrobeat vibes, it’s like a musical video celebrating Nigerian culture!

Airtel’s “444, four meta is a metaphor” ad is another example. Airtel’s no stranger to hitting it out of the park with their ads, and this one’s no exception. The voice artistry in this ad is just sweet, seamlessly mixing Yoruba and English to give us a delightful experience. It’s like they totally get what makes Nigerians tick, using local and foreign languages to hit the right chords with the audience.

Now, Indomie Noodles- the master of touching our hearts! They’ve got this knack for stirring up emotions with their jingle ads. It’s like they’re embedding love and connection right into their ads. From “To Me to You” to “Mama do good oo”. Its storytelling, heartwarming beats, and reliability keep us coming back for more. And even in the face of increasingly fierce competition, they’re still at the top of our minds!

So, what if Viva and 2Sure had infused storytelling elements into their jingle ads, and dared to address important yet subtly discussed topics relevant to their target audience? Perhaps, exploring social media dating or inter-ethnic marriages, transforming them into takeaway messages for their ads. A catchy catchline like “your clothes can leave a lasting impression” for Viva or “you can never be too sure to insist on the best” for Too Sure. Could it have added another layer of engagement?

Mixing jingles with these alternative techniques and great storytelling is like adding hot sauce to a tasty dish! It makes our ads more exciting and connects with people’s hearts.

With a background in writing for B2B and B2C companies, Udochi Mbalewe fuses an understanding of businesses, and consumer behaviour with a deep love of words and storytelling. When she is not reading or analysing marketing materials, you can catch her cooking and making memories with friends and families.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.