Since their heyday in TV and radio advertising of the '50s and '60s, songs written for commercials have had a resurgence in recent years but in a different form. Instead of the 30-second songs you'd hear during commercials, the modern jingle is more frequently becoming a pop song in its own right.
Witness the latest single from Calvin Harris featuring Ne-Yo, "Let's Go," an electro-pop raver that was initially commissioned by Pepsi Max to be its European soccer anthem. The single, still climbing the Hot 100 this week, is well on its way to matching the success of Harris' "Feel So Close," which hit No. 12 in May. And that's just weeks before Coca-Cola kicks off a global push behind its original Olympic anthem "Anywhere In The World," by Mark Ronson featuring Katy B, the company's first original non-holiday single since it turned K'Naan's "Wavin' Flag" into an international hit for the FIFA World Cup.
There have certainly been a number of famous examples of this new breed of jingle already. Just look at what happened in 2008 when ad agency Translation paired Chris Brown with Wrigley for an updated take on Doublemint's "Double your pleasure, double your fun" tagline. The result was "Forever," a No. 2 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 and one of Brown's biggest hits to date. But what are some of the other key tunes, past and present, that have made ads rock? Here, Billboard takes a look at 10 of the best, with asterisks where noted for songs that were not initially written for a brand. All sales figures are according to Nielsen SoundScan.
"Let's Go" (Pepsi)
Calvin Harris feat. Ne-Yo, 2012
Sales (to date, according to Nielsen SoundScan): 376,000
Chart History: Rises 26-22 on Billboard Hot 100 this week.
A rising pop hit in the U.S., "Let's Go" has origins in Europe as an official soccer anthem for Pepsi Max, with lyrics that happen to embody the message of Pepsi's first-ever global ad tagline, "live for now." "It's now or never," Ne-Yo sings on the fist pump-worthy track, "tomorrow's good, tonight is better." Brad Jakeman, Pepsi's chief creative officer, told Billboard in a May 5 cover story that the "live for now " positioning was the key differentiator between Pepsi and longtime rival Coca-Cola. "They've attracted a group of consumers who've prepared more to trade off on 'tomorrow.' We're much more focused on maximizing the excitement of 'today.'"
"Anywhere In the World" (Coca-Cola)
Mark Ronson feat. Katy B, 2012
Sales (to date): 2,000
Chart History: Has not yet charted.
Coca-Cola's first Olympic jingle is the result of an 18-month project that saw producer Ronson (Amy Winehouse, Lily Allen) collaborating with five Olympic athletes around the globe to capture the sounds of their respective sports and incorporate those noises into a pop song. The project, which has been adapted for over 20 territories, will get a heavy push in the U.S. in the coming weeks with fellow London-er Katy B on lead vocals. That includes commercial time as well as custom promos on NBC's coverage of the Games, a Spotify promotion from Ronson's U.S. label RCA and a national media buy on Ryan Seacrest's "American Top 40." And for those lucky enough to make the trip to London at the end of the month, an additional installation awaits - Coca-Cola's own Olympic pavilion, which will include touch panels that activate the five key notes of the "Anywhere In The World" melody.
"Red Solo Cup" (Solo)*
Toby Keith, 2011
Sales (to date): 2 million
Chart History: No. 15 on the Hot 100
One of Toby Keith's biggest hits is also his most unlikely. Unlike most of his singles, "Red Solo Cup" was not written by Keith but two pairs of Nashville writers known collectively as the Warren Beaver Brothers - Brad and Brett Warren, Brett and Jim Beavers, respectively. Though the writers didn't compose the song under any influence from Solo, the single's release nevertheless coincided serendipitously with the sale of The Solo Cup Co. to Dart Container Corp. this spring, to the tune of $1 billion. Although Solo initially bristled at the song's less-than-favorable lyrics ("A red Solo cup is cheap and disposable / And in 14 years they are decomposable"), the company has since voiced its approval to Keith's camp. "Toby made the red Solo cup a party icon," says TK Kimbrell, Keith's manager.