I spend too much time thinking about TV advertising because there is so much of it, and most of it is bad. For example, Choice Hotels ads feature a pompous guy who promotes the slogan, “Badda Book, Badda Boom.” That irritating phrase sticks in my head but not the name of the hotel service being advertised. That ad is somebody’s idea of memorable, but to me it’s unsuccessful. If I were going to make a hotel reservation, what good does remembering “Badda Book, Badda Boom” do?
The very best ads are jingles–advertising set to music. Some of them were so good (or so annoying) that they have remained in my brain for decades. And that’s exactly what the advertisers intend. Consider “I Wish I Was an Oscar Meyer Wiener,” one of the ten most popular jingles in U.S. advertising history (and also grammatically incorrect). A logo company writes that “All it takes is being a wiener to ensure the love of those around you.” [Who knew?]
These days, the ditty “One Eight Seven Seven Kars 4 Kids” runs through my brain day and night. Whenever we’re driving and my granddaughter hears it, she chimes in. If she expects a car when she’s 16, she’d better start singing a song that has stuck in my brain for years: “Tell Me Somethin’ Good!”
Last week, while barely moving in one of Oakland’s many traffic jams, a men’s underwear ad came on the radio. I started thinking about what kind of society spends money on ads for men’s underwear. Just ahead, at the clogged intersection, two guys were holding up “Homeless” signs and trying to collect money in coffee cans. They weren’t having much luck, but then “Homeless” isn’t a catchy pitch. What a world.