As noted by Patton Oswalt in the bit above from his Talking For Clapping special (some graphic language), jingles and musical advertisements have a way of occupying space in one’s head, sometimes for years after they rightfully should. Here are a few standouts, good, bad, sometimes laughable but always memorable. Several of these may be difficult to dislodge, so be warned: just as you can’t un-ring a bell, you can’t un-hear these. Enjoy!
This mid-Fifties Studebaker ad combines rhyming dialog, cute kids, and a swinging track featuring upright bass and whistling to urge potential buyers to check out the “big, new” Studebakers.
Especially with the advent of television, celebrities got into the car marketing game with shows sponsored by OEMs. Dinah Shore had a show sponsored by Chevrolet, which prominently featured this song, for years.
Groucho Marx espoused the virtues of the “De-Lightful, De-Lovely” DeSoto in segments such as this one for model year 1958. Isn’t it remarkable how “by odd coincidence” Groucho had several DeSotos “just outside” for his guests to test drive?
Even in the psychedelic era, songs were used to promote cars. Dig the fuzztone on the guitar in this 1969 Pontiac GTO ad featuring Paul Revere and the Raiders! “The Judge” looks pretty boss, and the song is a definite psych-pop earworm.
While it may be hard for some younger readers to fathom, there was a time when radio was not only a big deal, but DJs were recognized celebrities. How did Dave Dinger Ford of Braintree, Massachusetts do it? With a little help from the legendary Wolfman Jack, apparently.
Not all musical ads had big budgets – or particularly good singers. At least Harry Schmerler of Schmerler Ford in Elk Grove Village, Illinois had the good sense to know that “with a voice like mine, I have to give good deals!”
Cal Worthington was quite possibly the king of regional auto ads. The commercials for his Long Beach dealership usually featured two things – the “go see Cal” jingle and “his dog Spot,” which was never a dog, and hilariously often attempted to maul him.
Whether Spot was a tiger, bear, chimpanzee, cougar, or elephant, Cal’s ads were popular enough to warrant repeated guest appearances on the Johnny Carson-era Tonight Show on NBC. Worthington’s ads feature in multiple television shows and films, and Cal himself was referenced in pop culture of the mid- to- late Twentieth Century frequently. By the Nineties, Worthington was the highest-grossing single owner of a dealership chain in America, surely in no small part thanks to his unforgettable ads.
Is there a jingle or musical ad that’s stuck with you since you first heard it? Please share it in the comments!