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TV Commercials: The Boomer Connection

Baby boomers and television commercials have a kinship like no other generation in history.

It’s been about 60 years since television became the advertiser’s dream come true. Marketing pitches for goods and services began to be pumped into living rooms across the country, captivating audiences with clever messages often accompanied by a catchy tune. On average, today’s American consumers are exposed to over an hour of TV ads a day – and that’s not including radio, print, online, and mobile ads, which could run into several thousand exposures a day.

Boomtime

Boomers are fortunate to witness the evolution of TV ads during the most transformative television broadcasting years in history. After WWII, consumerism, optimism, and technology launched us into the modern era, which coincided with the baby-boomer generation. Boomers have been watching television ads aimed at them their entire lives. Today, the boomer generation wields the most spending power according to an analysis by MagnifyMoney of Federal Reserve data, providing a prime demographic for television advertisers.

But which television ads are the most memorable? What makes them memorable? To find the answers, Forbes set out and queried people a few years ago. The results revealed television commercials using humor topped the list as being the most memorable, followed by those with taglines and jingles, and then those using an iconic-like character.

Sticking Power

Think back for a moment and see if you can recall some of your favorite TV commercials you’ve watched while growing up. What made them memorable to you? And did you remember the brand or product advertised? If so, that’s some pretty effective advertising, especially if you eventually made a purchase.

Several years ago, a survey was performed by Eric Swartz to find the most influential U.S. jingles created after 1948. Sent to 100 professionals in advertising, marketing, and branding, they ranked their top three favorites from a list of nominated television ad jingles. Listed below are the results of that survey with added videos to some of my favorites for your viewing pleasure:

  1. My bologna has a first name, it’s O-S-C-A-R. (1960s) – Oscar Mayer
  2. Plop plop, fizz fizz, oh what a relief it is. (1970s) – Alka-Seltzer
  3. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there. (1971) – State Farm Insurance
  4. Double your pleasure, double your fun. (1959) – Wrigley’s Doublemint Gum
  5. Be all that you can be. (1981) – U.S. Army
  6. For all you do, this Bud’s for you. (1970s) – Budweiser
  7. A little dab’ll do ya. (1950s) – Brylcreem
  8. It’s the real thing. (1970) – Coca-Cola
  9. Ace is the place with the helpful hardware man. (1970s) – Ace Hardware
  10. You deserve a break today. (1971) – McDonald’s
  11. Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t. (1953) – Peter Paul Mounds/Almond Joy
  12. I’d like to teach the world to sing… (1971) – Coca-Cola
  13. I wish I were an Oscar Mayer Wiener. (1965) – Oscar Mayer
  14. Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame seed bun. (1975) – McDonald’s
  15. Things go better with Coke. (1963) – Coca-Cola
  16. In the valley of the jolly–ho-ho-ho! – Green Giant. (early 1960s) – Green Giant
  17. There’s always room for J-E-L-L-O. (1950s) – Jell-O
  18. I’m a pepper, he’s a pepper, she’s a pepper… (1970s) – Dr. Pepper
  19. Just for the taste of it, Diet Coke. (1986) – Diet Coke
  20. See the USA in your Chevrolet. (1950s) – Chevrolet
  21. Nobody doesn’t like Sara Lee. (1972) – Sara Lee
  22. Nothing says lovin’ like somethin’ from the oven. (1957) – Pillsbury
  23. What would you do for a Klondike Bar? (early 1990s) – Klondike Bar
  24. Winston tastes good like a cigarette should. (1954) – Winston Cigarettes
  25. If you’ve got the time, we’ve got the beer. (1980s) – Miller Beer
  26. You’ll wonder where the yellow went when you brush your teeth with Pepsodent. (1953) – Pepsodent Toothpaste
  27. Here’s to good friends. (1978) – Lowenbrau Beer
  28. Rice-a-Roni, the San Francisco treat. (1961) – Rice-a-Roni
  29. Away go troubles down the drain. (1956) – Roto-Rooter
  30. Maxwell House coffee pot percolator theme (1961) – Maxwell House

Honorable Mention:

Meow, meow, meow, meow… (1976) – Ralston Meow Mix

I am stuck on Band-Aids ‘cause Band-Aids stuck on me. (early 1980s) – Band-Aids

Intel inside logo — four-note theme (1994) – Intel

And a few that didn’t make the list but are unforgettable in my book:

Uh Oh SpaghettiOs (1970s)

Times of Your Life – Kodak (1977)

Have It Your Way – Burger King (1974)

Armour Hot Dogs (1967)

Cracker Jack (1967)

Back to the Future

Popular TV commercial jingles have a timelessness about them. Long after they’ve passed from our television screens, they remain imprinted on our minds, conjuring nostalgic moments of our past. Jingles for television ads are making a comeback in today’s hyper-competitive world. Perhaps more data-driven than ever before, inventive marketers are looking outside the box to create that catchy little tune. Only time will tell if they have the same sticking power as those we grew up with and watched with such delight.