What makes a good jingle? Is it more than just catchy and clever? Maybe instantly memorable, inane or frustrating. We wanted to take a look at some advertising jingles that, even in a small way, have soundtracked parts of our lives. In the first of this two-part series, we take a look at the ‘A sides’ – some of the big hits, plus a few staff favourites. The ‘B sides’ will follow next week, looking at those tunes that may have been forgotten – some rightly so!
McDonald’s, ‘Kiwiburger’ (1995)
This commercial for McDonalds’ Kiwiburger was huge in the 90s and was written by jingle supremo Murray Grindlay. It goes hard on kiwiana and features a lot of clever rhymes. ‘Kids at my school tried to show off how much of the song they remembered, and would make up their own playground-relevant versions,’ recalls communications staff member David. The tune was updated in 2020 to reflect a more modern New Zealand.
One of the country’s best-loved ads and another Grindlay-penned tune, the Gold Rush features a large cast and the Kingston Flyer. Directed by Tony Williams, heaps of footage is cut together to make an action spectacle. ‘Whenever I have a Crunchie it still feels like a wild adventure could unfold,’ says public event programmer Joanna.
This 1975 classic from Colenso advertising had viewers tapping their toes, and is still fondly remembered. One of our staff, Claire, broke into song when she brought it up in a meeting discussing jingles. Please note this version ends abruptly.
Ches and Dale have been hawking cheese since the 1960s. Animated by Sam Harvey (who later created Goodnight Kiwi), the iconic tune was played by folk group The Yeomen. It’s a favourite of Una from our marketing team: ‘It’s such a fun jingle! Twangy, simple and catchy.’ There’s even an urban legend attached to it.
From 1974, this Bata Bullets clip is one of many commercials from Roger Donaldson’s Aardvark Films. The New Zealand-made shoe had a handful of memorable tunes (‘cap, shirt, Bata Bullets!’) ‘To the nettles or to the beach, there’s nowhere you can’t reach in your Bata Bullets! They go with you anywhere!’ At least one staff member still has a pair of Bullets.
Levin-based animation studio Morrow Productions made a stack of commercials for television, in addition to shorts and feature films. We’ve found that those of a certain age have the ‘Decimal Currency Day’ date firmly stuck in their brain and that many readers were ‘Dollar Scholars’ at school: teaching their family about the new money.
When they weren’t informing the nation about major currency changes, Morrow made ads like this one for eggs. ‘When there’s an egg in the house there’s a meal in the house!’
Rinso e te reo Māori (1964)
First broadcast during a radio episode of It’s in the Bag, Selwyn Toogood announces an encore airing of this jingle. Rinso was the sponsor of the show and they created a Māori language version of this ad during the Bag’s run through Northland.
BASF Tapes, ‘Dear John’ (1981)
1981’s all-time classic ‘Dear John’ for BASF tapes is one of our most-viewed online items. Directed by Tony Williams, the music is again by Grindlay. While perhaps not the most ‘jingley’, we’ve no doubt that many New Zealanders could sing this tune unprompted.
In the next instalment, we look at some jingles that didn‘t quite stick in our heads the same way. Tune in for the B Sides of New Zealand’s jingle history, coming soon.
Check out more classic New Zealand adverts in our Sellebration exhibition.