How a simple song has the power to get California to Talk. Read. Sing.

Remember jingles? Those hard-to-forget musical ditties that extolled the virtues of almost every product and service advertised in the 20th century? Remember “Plop Plop Fizz Fizz”? “You deserve a break today”? And that classic, “I’d like to buy the world a Coke,” revisited in the Mad Men finale and attributed to Don Draper’s EUREKA moment?

The American jingle was the most valuable concept in the communications toolbox for over 100 years. It was a simply brilliant way to cut through the clutter and brand a product or service. But with the advent of MTV, and the desire of recording artists to cash in on their extensive songbooks, jingles fell out of favor in the late 80’s. My generation of Mad Men and Women scorned them. “If you don’t have something to say, sing it” was the knock.

Today, Fraser Communications’ efforts with First 5 California to get parents to talk, read and sing to their children ages 0 to 5 has had us immersed in recent brain research. We discovered that, lo and behold, those ancient jingle writers were onto something: Human beings remember words better when they rhyme. And they REALLY remember them when those rhymes are set to music.

And so, we went back to the well, and wrote a jingle. Then because “Plop Plop Fizz Fizz” was made even more memorable by Speedy Alka Seltzer, we created three enthusiastic animated mascots to sing our song: The Smarter Birds – Parrot, Owl and Songbird.

Great music is hard to create. Great jingles even harder as there is less time to arrive at a melody and there are specific things you need to communicate. With Anthony Marinelli of Music Forever, we were able to access the most talented songwriters in Los Angeles, and compose a winning toe-tapping tune. Then, for our characters, we partnered with the inspired and skilled animators at The Mill.

We spent five months developing our Smarter Birds, writing their backstories, rewriting lyrics, listening to the melodies that could bring those lyrics to life, shooting, editing, and getting energized daily by our wonderful First 5 California partners, who were hugely supportive during this delightful journey.

There was a single focus to these efforts: We wanted the first-time exposure of the jingle to “stick” in the mind, and be hummable all day long.  And we succeeded, if the videos of children hearing it for the first time are any indication. Now, we’re taking our Smarter Birds on the digital and social media road. Our fingers are crossed and our toes are tapping that another generation of California parents will talk, read and sing (with our song in their repertoire!) to their children every day, exercising their brains, and helping them succeed in school. Did I tell you we’re also making Smarter Bird puppets? And writing a Smarter Birds activity book?

All these efforts fell into place beautifully, proving that even though a jingle is a simple thing, its power is enormous. Let the Smarter Birds fly.

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