Radio Jingles Work According to Science

So, you’re thinking of using a radio jingle in your newest ad campaign. Here’s some concrete evidence that a radio jingle is exactly what you need to get your brand out there and stuck in consumers’ heads.

Music and advertising are a historic power duo. Merchants in the crowded marketplaces of London in the 1500s would sing to cut through the noise of the space and attract customers. Their songs may not have been as catchy as our modern day radio jingles, but the concept of them is that long-standing. Today, we know a lot more about exactly why radio jingles work than our friends did back then.

That earworm of a radio jingle that’s been running through your head since you got to work this morning is doing exactly what it’s meant to, and it’s all thanks to a little thing called “involuntary musical imagery” (INMI). There’s a lot of neuroscience that goes into this, and while I could tell you about how INMI is related to the default mode network in the brain, which is a function of the prefrontal, posterior cingulate, and parahippocampal cortices, I’ll condense what you need to know in layman’s terms: when you hear a familiar piece of music, your brain floods itself with memories related to that tune. This is perfect for advertising your brand. Radio jingles are the only advertising method that will get you hours of free airtime in your listeners’ own brains. They’ll get stuck in their heads, and when they hear bits of them again, they’ll instantly remember your ad and what you were telling them in it.

It’s no surprise that a great radio jingle will get stuck in your head, but what does that fact mean for your brand? A study published in 2011 studied the perceptions of 540 people that listened to ads for a fake mineral water brand featuring different music. The co-author of the study, Patrick Hartmann, wrote, “Our study shows that the use of different melodies, which are appropriate and in line with the message and the brand…creates different impressions…of the brand itself”. In other, more radio-centric words, the radio jingles that you feature in your ads create a brand in the brain of your customers. Radio jingles are highly effective tools to give your advertisement a perfect sense of your brand. Want to seem cool and modern? Choose a modern pop-rock style for your ad. Get a great, jazzy, big-band tune for a “classic” feel for your brand.

Don’t just take it from us: radio jingles work. If you’re looking to build your brand and be heard (again and again and again), they’re just what you need.