Up in Arms About Ads 6 – Jeepers what jingles!

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Oh, so bad – Freedom mobile – Key of Freedom

wind-mobileSome TV commercials get a lot of attention because they are expensively made, or because they are meant for the Superbowl or because they are a high-volume retail product. And when those are BAD☠, they are really, really bad, because of the frequency with which they are being aired and because they got one simple thing wrong, like the music.

Here’s a reminder: music in a commercial has to be entertaining, it has to emphasize the drama in the commercial, it has to be memorable (a “brainworm” in other words), have lyrical, or poetic language, be targeted at the right audience, and be authoritative or good, because of the stature of the artist who wrote it. Lastly, the words have to tie into the product’s USP. The current commercial for Freedom Mobile got the music wrong. The lyrical language is missing. It is a brainworm, but for the wrong reasons. It irritates me no end. My sympathies for the people who had to sing it, since I think not even a Wunderkind could make that flat, arrhythmical melody sound good.

When Wind Mobile recently rebranded itself as “Freedom”, they produced this commercial with a bear/groundhog type mascot and people playing and singing the worst jingle I’ve heard in a long time. They got someone to write that jingle (I’m not calling it a song – too few words and notes), and perform it, so why not make it good and memorable?

Says their website: “After seven years helping Canadians stay connected for less money, WIND is now Freedom Mobile. The same company you trust, with a renewed focus on making wireless services more affordable.” What I want to know is which Clever Clogs chose a generic English word for their name. Right, so you want to be called “Optimism” TV. Really? No. You want to be called “Happy” Company? No. You’re not a direct translation from a Chinese place name. I thought that kind of thing was a Branding 101 no-no. In any case, the jingle’s words go like this:

Freedom from overages
Freedom from gouging
Flat monthly fee
Affordable everything
Oh oh oh
When you’ve had enough
Choose Freedom

“Gouging” doesn’t rhyme with “everything”, or it is a “half rhyme”, in other words is the rhyming of the ending consonant sounds in a word (“ing”). Half rhyme is considered a weak form. The jingle writer resorted to the oh-oh-oh option to fill up a line. All the singers of this Song in the Key of Freedom sound the same. Of course, the word “freedom” has very few useful rhyming words – no “saddam” doesn’t work – a bit like “orange”. So, the rhyme scheme has to come from the other words. I can’t write music, but I took a stab at improving the lyrics, below, using “hard” or “masculine” rhyme, which is easier to sing and remember:

When you have had it
With gouging and fee hikes
And your mobile provider
Just gets gripes and dislikes
Just say no, no
I have had enough
I choose Freedom


Freedom means freedom
from overage charging
Freedom from fee hikes
And freedom from gouging
For no more bills
that are random
Choose Freedom

See? Now you try it.


Also pretty bad – Country Fried Dancin’ – Pepto-Bismol 5 Symptom Commercialscreen-shot-2017-02-13-at-6-09-37-pm

The same goes for the unfortunate Peptobismol ad where the cowboys act out: “When you’ve got Nausea, heartburn, indigestion, stomach upset, diarrhea.” Unfortunately, “nausea” is hard to pronounce when you’re singing a fast song. It’s either noh-see-ah ( /ˈnɔːsɪə/) or noh-zzha (ˈnɔʒə ). Either way, the guys can’t say the word fast enough and it comes out mangled, something like na-sa. They cannot do a 3-syllable word or the “zh” /“ ʒ” sound while they are preoccupied with also acting out the symptoms. So instead of making it so hard why not change the lyrics to: “When you feel bilious, heartburn, indigestion, stomach upset, diarrhea…” or “When you’ve a queasy, burpy, churning stomach, indigestion, diarrhea…” Still five symptoms, just without that troublesome word.

Now for a memorable jingle.

Long long ago in a country far far away, there was a cane spirit called “Mainstay” which was very popular, and which I remember to this day because the jingle was actually a nice song. The total time of this ad is an old-school two  minutes long. The nautical-themed words went like this:

Breaking away to an island
Lured by a tropical sun
Season’s sensations
New revelations
Once only dreamed of
and now they’ve begun
When you think about all your tomorrows
And forget about your yesterdays
There is so much to do
Waiting in front of you
Break away with Mainstay.

Now isn’t that purty? C’mon, you know you want to whistle along. Shows that a professionally composed jingle can literally last a lifetime.

Here’s that old Mainstay ad. Yes, children, it’s about alcohol. Go to another page now!