Campaign50: The best jingles and sonic devices (part 3)

R White's: 'Secret lemonade drinker'
R White's: 'Secret lemonade drinker'

As part of Campaign's 50th celebrations, Paul Burke presents the third instalment of the best 50 advertising jingles and sonic devices.

Antonín Dvorák 

Antonín Dvorák was Czech but, thanks to this much-loved Hovis campaign, his music will be forever associated with the north of England. But look again at this famous commercial. The hill is in Shaftesbury in Dorset and the voiceover has a strong West Country burr. No connection whatsoever with the north. And yet, I have fond memories of all Hovis ads being set in Yorkshire. I also have fond memories of being a cool, good-looking teenager.

Ross and Julian

It’s often said that the Secret Lemonade Drinker was Elvis Costello’s dad. Maybe it’s because of the horn-rimmed glasses, but it isn’t true. The fizzy-drink addict was played by an actor called Julian Chagrin. But Costello Sr – or Ross McManus – was the real star of the show. He wrote and performed a truly joyous and unforgettable piece of music, still loved and sung by millions of people. Which is more than can be said for his pompous son.

Sparse, mournful cover versions

The John Lewis Christmas ad is now an eagerly awaited Yuletide tradition – and rightly so. The tales are always enchantingly told and the films always beautifully made. An integral part of each one is a young singer bringing a pared-down poignancy to a familiar tune. Brilliant on so many levels. Including saving the "copywriter" from having to write any dialogue.

Rod Allen

In an era before advertising considered itself a branch of either fine art or social work, one of the UK’s foremost agencies was Allen Brady & Marsh. Its voluble, over-confident chairman Peter Marsh was the self-appointed and much-mocked spokesman for the entire industry. Behind him, however, lurked a bewhiskered genius. Rod Allen had a real gift for striking a populist chord when that word was still considered a compliment. "Secret lemonade drinker", "Milk’s gotta lotta bottle" and "That’s the wonder of Woolworth" were just some of his jingle-heavy creations. The Woolworth’s Christmas commercials were always celebrity-laden extravaganzas. I know, crass and vulgar when compared with the likes of John Lewis. Although, somehow, like all of Allen’s work, a lot more fun. 

William Franklyn’s eyebrow 

William Franklyn was an actor best known for fronting Schweppes "Sssh. You know who" campaign throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Aside from popularising a quite brilliant slogan, his contribution to advertising was immeasurable. Franklyn practically patented that very English "raised eyebrow" delivery that has since been adopted by Geoffrey Palmer, Stephen Fry, Robert Bathurst and countless other fine actors and voice artists. As that wry eyebrow is raised, so too is the premium positioning of the brand it’s promoting. Which is why Franklyn’s lasting legacy will always be that "wrybrow".

Pete Moore

The man who composed "Asteroid".  Instantly familiar to anyone over 30 who has ever been to a cinema, "Asteroid" was the Pearl & Dean theme music that preceded the ads that preceded the film. It was especially exciting for anyone who worked in advertising because the cinema was where all the industry’s best work was showcased.

Victor Borge

"Heineken refreshes the parts…" is probably the most celebrated UK advertising campaign of all time. Maybe because it had to be. When lager first appeared, Britons were accustomed to bitter and viewed this continental newcomer as a bit outré. Which is why Danish humorist Victor Borge was an inspired choice to voice the campaign. His quirky sense of the absurd complemented the visuals perfectly and the rest is history. Now, of course, Heineken is rightly regarded as every bit as British as chicken tikka masala. 

Ross Kemp 

Kellogg’s has a proud record for introducing sounds and catchphrases to UK television screens: "They’re grrrrreat!" for Frosties, "Snap, crackle and pop" for Rice Krispies and "Tasty, tasty, very very tasty" for Bran Flakes. But it also introduced a nice, fresh-faced, middle-class young man to our screens singing, smiling and enjoying a round of golf. Anyone who knew Ross Kemp during the Kellogg’s Fruit ’n Fibre years are still astonished that he found fame snarling around Albert Square, pretending to be tasty, tasty, very very tasty.

The Siberian tiger

Many automotive advertisers have sought to liken the raw power of their engines to the raw power of wild animals. But, as has so often been the case with car advertising, they seldom did it as simply and effectively as Volkswagen.

Griff Rhys Jones

This brilliant campaign was inspired by a Not the Nine O’clock News sketch featuring Griff Rhys Jones as the sly, gurgling café owner. But it’s not where you find an idea that matters; it’s where you take it – and this idea was hugely influential. Largely through sound, it began the UK’s demand for good coffee that has now transformed our society. Without it, I doubt we would ever have seen the phenomenal growth of Starbucks, Costa, Caffè Nero or small, independent coffee shops. I’m in one now, typing this. As usual, I’m late with my copy. Better press "send".

Paul Burke is an award-winning writer and producer


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