Buland Bharat Ki Buland Tasvir/Humara Bajaj Humara Bajaj. ” This jingle took you back in time to 1989, didn’t it? A time when India was at the cusp of liberating its economy, and the scooter represented the aspirations of the Indian middle class. Radio’s grip over the masses was loosening as TV soaps and mythological shows grabbed eyeballs. Jingles such as this one, along with ‘Washing Powder Nirma’ and ‘Har Ek Friend Zaroori Hota Hai’, became so much a part of the cultural landscape that they lingered on in people’s minds years later.
“Jingles are tiny little time capsules,” says Anuja Chauhan, the creator of iconic jingles such as Pepsi‘s ‘Yeh Dil Maange More’ and ‘Oye Bubbly’. “Compositions like ‘Hamara Bajaj’ work as a common point in history that we all have. It’s almost like having a common grandparent,” Chauhan adds with a chuckle.
In the early ’90s, says former advertising professional Lakshmipathy Bhat, jingles were the goto for every brand. “They were simple, entertaining and had a feel-good element to them. They inserted the brand names again and again, aiding recall value. ”
However, in the era of OTT consumption and Instagram reels, these time capsules are becoming relics of the past. Karthik Srinivasanan independent communications consultant who has worked on multiple brand campaigns, says their demise has coincided with the death of simultaneous TV watching. “Earlier, people used to wait for programs. Now, programs wait for people. We can watch it in our own nooks, we can pause, play, and record. We can also skip the songs with the click of a button. ” He points out that the act of watching television together is only limited to live sporting events such as IPL which have limited slots for advertisements.
“Even during the ads, our attention is splintered. We scroll on our phones, tune off the ads, and then go back to watching the stream once ads are over,” he adds.
Added to this splintering of attention is a sense of disenchantment with what the jingle-based ads tell us, says Chauhan. “More than having choices, I think it’s a problem of too much exposure. There’s just a lack of mystique and, therefore, a lack of faith in advertising, especially a format that focuses on singing. ”
In the age of social media advertising, consumers want something more than just a melodic jingle in their content diet, says Krishna Iyer, director of marketing at advertising firm MullenLowe Lintas Group. “It’s all about relatable, engaging material rather than humming a tune for hours on end,” he says.
Not everyone is writing the epitaph of the jingle though. It remains an effective instrument for brands to strike a chord with the intended audience, says Azmat Jagmag, head of marketing at Warner Bros.
Discovery South Asia. However, the marketing strategies to incorporate music have changed. “For instance, when we launched the Indian version of‘Say Yes To The Dress’, we engaged Badshah to produce a track that emphasises the significance of a wedding dress in a bride’s life,” she adds.
Chauhan says re-invention is going to be the way forward, as it was at the time of another disruption. When smartphones first became popular in the early 2000s, for instance, Chauhan recalls how jingles were pitched as caller tunes. “Even Oye Bubbly, which came out in 2006, could be set as a ringtone for Re 1. It was a big deal to have the jingle on your cellphone,” she says.
Reinvention is already happening in a way with ‘mogos’ — musical logos of brands — becoming popular. “While we don’t have time to use full-fledged jingles in commercials in the digital age, catchy tunes that are 5-10 seconds long and play when a consumer makes a transaction or enters an ATM are in demand,” says Sharad Phalgunexecutive vice president of ad agency Ogilvy India. Not only legacy brands such as Britannia, but startups such as Zomato and Paytm have launched their own mogos. A recreation of old jingles with new themes can work well too, he adds, pointing towards the success of Cadbury India’s reimagined vintage ad showing a female cricketer on the pitch, instead of a male one. While the gender of the player changed, the brand’s original jingle ‘kuch khaas hai’ played in the background, evoking nostalgia.
To tap into the playlist-browsing habits of younger generations, Srinivasan suggests releasing longer versions of the jingles online. As an example, he points out the massive popularity of a ghazal that played in the background of Imperial Blue’s ‘Men Will Be Men’ ads. However, despite repeated requests from users requesting the brand to upload it online, the brand never did so. “It was a lost opportunity. Had the brand released the song, it would have done wonders,” he says.
Another possibility is tie-ups between brands and social media platforms so that jingles are used in videos and reels, extending their reach, says the consultant.
The question is: are brands listening?


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