Radio Advertising. Annoying: probably pretty effective.
I'm working at the minute, with all that entails, including listening to an office radio. And this week, the slightly tepid pop selection comes courtesy of Absolute FM who, in their favour, have a policy of not playing the same tune twice in a day*.
The same can't be said of advertising unfortunately, and on commercial radio my experience seems to suggest far fewer subscribers buying slots – compared to the pluralistic frenzy of the internet or TV – with the result that the same five or so radio ads get some seriously heavy caning throughout any random eight-hour sample.
Radio advertising feels odd to me. My initial thoughts upon getting reacquainted were that it represented some kind of extant bunker of purely jingle-led promotion, sticking to its guns on the airwaves like packets of Japanese soldiers hiding out on Pacific islands long after World War 2 ended. But no, generally all the ads are re-purposed versions of TV campaigns – just lacking any visual context (one, a Subway ad, features a Peter Kayesque 'talking pocket' which I'd never have garnered from the radio) Even so, the focus of radio ads does seem to be the twee, catchy little tunes.
On the plus side, this relative lack of sophistication seems quite endearing, hearkening back to days when the marketing mensch weren't preoccupied with trying to enslave the latest bit of social networking apparatus to their own dark ends. But on the downside it does mean you're probably going to be subjected to some of the most insanely irritating tuneage since the last Christina Aguilera single. Irritating, but it must be said, catchy, for these sung refrains are insidiously compelling – like a kind of mnemonic mind-worm that burrows into your brain (think the slug things in the Star Trek film 'Wrath of Khan') – and they stay there!
I can still remember jingles from my childhood, in fact. Who could forget classics such the Kellogs Bran flakes ad, for instance?
"Theeeey're tasty tasty very very tasty." (etc)
Though when my brother bumped it to the forefront of my mental playlist whilst on holiday the other year, we were all at something of a loss to recall the product it originally centred around. Bacon? err, chips? dunno. And even though the accompanying images of the piece in question have largely faded from my memory, I can still vividly recall the song from a Mobil ad of my youth, that set the following lyrics to Gene Pitney's 24 Hours From Tulsa:
"Only 24 toasters from Scunthorpe, Only 6 double beds from Torquay, And I can’t decide if I will Buy a diamond ring or a drill, And if I want to I can add to My Premier Points with cash If I haven’t driven enough!"
I think the line where the singer sums up the (exciting) quandary that the choice between a tool and a piece of jewellery elicits is pretty much automatic D&AD award-winning genius (well, maybe not). But still somehow captivating in its silliness, hey?. Old advertising is a heady garden of nostalgia though anyway – I recall with affection the ads that punctuated a crackly recording of Star Wars on VHS we watched to abstraction as kids, such as the Heineken one with the road-mender's sign in the rain, where the icon of the man slurps on a crisp lager, then with a flourish, transforms his spade into an umbrella (that was when Heineken was 3%, mind. God knows what he'd do now – probably fall asleep.)
But I digress. The main reason I'm writing all this is that the last few days I've been subjected to a Muller corner ad that uses the tune from Nina Simone's 'I Got Life', only behind some most unfeasibly inane wordplay I've ever heard. It's basically a choir of people, young and old, taking turns to insert their favourite Muller flavour into the "I've got my" format, and the net result is truly distracting in its stupefying idiocy. It starts something like this:
"I got got my cherry, got my berry! got my biscuit, got my crunch!"
then meanders off through some other flavours, (a child cheeps "I got my blueberries!", discordantly) before the cherry girl triumphantly reiterates that she's 'got her cherry', and the whole thing ends.
I've been hearing this about five times a day (at least) the last fortnight, and it has the kind of nauseating, delirium inducing effect otherwise only legally obtainable off herbal-high counters in Camden. Annoyingly, it's habit forming though, constituting an itch my brain seeks to scratch through involuntary repetition: I'll be pootling round my kitchen, say, and suddenly catch myself starting to hum "got my cherr" before I come to with a start and give myself a mental 'dry slap'.
It's brutally effective stuff. And I could envision myself happily pounding my own head to mush in order to escape extended repetition of this particular ditty, but my last word word almost certainly be "M U L L E R", spelled out in morse code and clumps of brain as my head beat a wet, red tattoo against the wall, probably leaving something much like a Muller yoghurt and topping smeared there, more's the irony.
But seriously, who writes these things? I'm trying to imagine, and the only mental picture popping in there is of a cross between Andy Warhol and Nosferatu hunched behind a mixing desk in a post-production house in Soho, giggling maniacally between bites of a Pret butty. I'm evoking an evil genius here, but it actually does sound like quite a laugh (unless you have to take it seriously).
Anyway. That's that off my chest. Any jingles that got you reaching for a rusty nail to scratch out the bit of your brain containing it? c'mon friends, share my pain...
*apart from some competition they're running at the minute
I spend far two much of my time thumbing through the racks of 'the Japanese Gap' in the quest for fresh new t-shirts, or investigating their much touted 'Designer's Invitation' projects (the Guilded Age one, is pretty good, as it happens).
So imaging my joy when I stumbled upon a web-based timekeeping application, soundtracked by mid-90s Nintajune style jazz beats, with a quartet of Japanese girlies in pastel hoodies and jeans cavorting round a corporate looking glass and steel structure. I mean, what's not to like, huh?
Anyway. Uniqlock is pretty mesmeric, and it's busily chattering away in the background as I write this. Basically, Japan, Uniqlo and half-decent sample based music usually cheer me up somewhat, so for these reasons, I'm going to temporarily at least whore my increasingly dormant blog out to a corporation by installing the Uniqlock in the upper right corner, especially as I'm somewhat obsessed by the passage of time these days, weeks months and years.
So, a wet grey Tuesday morning here and I'm sat in a Cafe Nero in central London, with a load of estate agents. Following a gas leak. Not only that, I'm drinking Starbuck's coffee. Sounds like a dream huh? *Arnie voice* "IT ISN'T"
Adoption Nazis? There's a sitcom in there somewhere... I'm thinking something like that late 80s wonder 'My Two Dads' (starring Greg Evigan and the guy who played slimy corporate retainer Burke in Aliens) except in this the two adoptive parents are nazis living with their charge in an ex-local authority maisonette in Dalston. Not only that but they're gay. Comic hi-jinks ensue, etc etc.