The Drum Awards Feature Scotland

21st Anniversary of the Scottish Advertising Awards

By The Drum | Administrator

August 13, 2007 | 8 min read

“In the quaint old days of limited telly and no internet, penning a successful jingle or slogan could mean a one way ticket to fame, fortune and a place in popular history for the client, the agency and even the creative,” says Colin Montgomery of WWAV Rapp Collins.

It’s easy, when nostalgia grabs you, to believe it to be a more innocent era when the jingle was advertisings most powerful predator. However, there was nothing innocent about the intents of the jingle, says Montgomery.

“Good jingles had the ‘devious squatter’ factor. They charm themselves into your brain, claim they’re only there for the week, never leave and ultimately start smoking your neural pipe and slippers while becoming over familiar with your cerebellum.”

However, despite its once all-dominating power, the jingle is fast disappearing from the advertising landscape as creative departments look to target their media-savvy audiences with more covert means.

“People want more these days,” says Frame creative director, Angus Walker. “They’re suspicious of old-fashioned jingles ‘cause they smell of ad-land.

“Consumers like the whole story and are willing to take more on – if they like the brand and what it stands for.

“Slogans or straplines are still in evidence, but the whole ad rarely depends on them. The consumer wants to know the whole message and get it in as concise a way as possible, but they don’t necessarily want to just take our (four) words for it. They want the story, not just the chapter heading.

“Straplines now evoke the story you’ve just seen or heard, whereas, in the past, they stood alone.”

Jingles might have been highly effective (as well as contagious), but the formula for their success continues to be debated to this day.

“The best jingles are a perfect marriage of words and music. The more irritating, the more memorable,” says Newhaven’s creative partner Zane Radcliffe…

“A good jingle should be memorable without being annoying,” says Frame’s Angus Walker; while GRP’s creative director Martin Cross says that although annoying jingles might be highly memorable, “you wouldn’t want your product or service remembered for being irritating?” (Or would you?)

A mixed recipe for success, then, but “perhaps a good jingle is just decent music, which would explain why some of the best (Layla for Vauxhall, the Stereo MCs for Carphone Warehouse) are “real” tunes co-opted to support a brand,” offers Cross.

“Now it’s all sonic triggers like Intel and Danone, which are even more irritating than proper jingles. I’d rather have dancing Kwik-Fit fitters, any day.

“When we only had one commercial TV station, lines like For mash get Smash became part of a national shared consciousness. I’m not sure you could buy that level of cultural integration now, at any price.”

Like Cross, Scottish advertising stalwart Ash Gupta agrees that good jingles have more in common with today’s chart hits than you might think. “A good jingle needs pace, tone, sensitivity and fitness for purpose, but most of all, it needs a good hook,” say Gupta.

“Good jingles are evergreen,” he continues, “but jingle writing is often becoming a lost art. The humour of the jingle is being subjugated by Mac thinking.”

Newhaven’s Zane Radcliffe also agrees that jingle writing is perhaps becoming a dying art: “The jingle is dying because it’s quicker and cleaner to brand our communication with visual mnemonics. However, advertisers like Direct Line and Pentium still use audio ‘stings’ on their ads, which helps recognition if you’re putting the kettle on in the other room. I guess times change and consumer tastes change, and perhaps the jingle is seen as a little dated.”

Yet, Dan McCurdy, former head of Radio Clyde’s commercial production team, believes that many of the best jingles from yesterday are still relevant today… in fact, some are still in use. “Any good jingle will be memorable and will reflect the brand quality, however, it should also stand being re-worked and updated as music and effects and sounds change.

“If you like the tune and it makes you feel good, you feel good about the brand. Jingles are a good audio vehicle to give a brand consistency. Bad jingles are generally bad because they’re badly produced, cheap and irritating, reflecting badly on the brand.”

However, a note of caution, in conclusion, to “all commercial production departments in local radio stations everywhere,” says Angus Walker. “Singing the telephone number AIN’T a jingle.”

Favourite jingles

Zane Radcliffe

creative partner, Newhaven

Made in Scotland from girders. I love the attitude, the unpretentiousness of it. Logically, it doesn’t make sense, and yet it speaks volumes about the product, the people who make it and the people who drink it.

Ash Gupta, Managing Partner,

The Gupta Partnership

Lomond Castle radio ads: We even got the famous Toni Basil to sing the ad for us.

We phoned her agent in LA, but he said ‘Toni doesn’t do commercials.’ We explained we were from Edinburgh, Scotland. Next thing, she was here with the original 24-track master of Mickey.

Angus Walker,

creative director, Frame

‘You can’t get better than a Kwik-Fit-Fitter’ has to be the best. Because it’s the one everyone remembers, and that, surely, is the whole point. Disappointingly, Made is Scotland from Girders is still the slogan people quote for Irn-Bru. I would reluctantly stick that at number two. And although I was personally responsibly for killing it off and replacing it with “At home in any home”, I had a soft spot for “If it’s in Vogue, it’s in Vogue” if only because it fell into the “so bad it’s good” category.

Colin Montgomery,

senior creative, WWAV Rapp Collins

‘Where inspiration comes in boxes…Ceramic Tile Warehouse’. It’s an absurd mixture of bathos and overclaim. In song.

Dan McCurdy, ex-Radio Clyde commercial producer

My favourite jingle must be Optical Express: it was one of the first I commissioned when I came back to Scotland. Rage Music did it. It’s simple, it just sings the name, the music is right for the brand and the client is still using it today. It helped build the brand well, worked on radio and TV and it still sounds fresh.

Worst jingles

Zane Radcliffe

Lucozade. Aids Recovery. Surely this was a bit of an overclaim at a time when the world was waking up to the threat of HIV.

Angus Walker

“Forrest Furnishing. Get into Forrest. Forr-est” The grating voices, the whiney final minor note, the naked attempt to get three namechecks in, the fact it meant nothing and the horrible truth that their money bought them a lot of airtime on STV. You couldn’t get away from it. Sure it was memorable, but it reminded you how much you hated the ad and. It was one of the reasons I got into advertising: to hunt it down and kill it. Someone got there before me.

Martin Cross, GRP, Creative director

There was a breathtaking “song” for a bus service in the early nineties that went something like: “When e’er I’m off to Liverpool, Manchester or Brum, I go by City-Linking - it’s easy and it’s fun”.

Iain Hawk, co-founder, 60Watt

You need to ask Pete [Mills, Hawk’s creative partner and copywriter]. I don’t really like jany ingles, as an art director.

Colin Montgomery

I’ve always hated ‘Mitchell’s Self Drive where people come first...and come back again’. Reason? Their big claim was ultimately nonsense. Of course ‘people come back again’. Otherwise they’re planning on stealing the van and ram-raiding Fine Fare.


Nominate your favourite Scottish jingle from the last 21 years by emailing or have your say on the debate at The Drum’s online forum which can be found at

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