We're willing to bet that every single one of you, when faced
with the following prompts, will be able to recite not only the
jingle but the core advertising message of these brands:
Go Compare - is there any one left in this country who can't sing along with Gio Compario, the operatic tenor with the terrifying moustache? What about the insanely repetitive dance track for WeBuyAnyCar.com? Moonpig? Or how about this blast from the past - Sheila's Wheels?
These brands all share a single attribute: a catchy, even annoying, jingle. But does this kind of advertisement really generate sales? Or do they actually alienate the public?
According to a Twitter search on Go Compare, the latter seems to be true.
@Eelus: "I'd like to pull the 'Go Compare' man's lips off using his stupid moustache. Then feed them 2 him as he sang his delightful opera song."
@theweird1ne: "All Go Compare has trained me to do is to automatically mute the TV when an ad involves a parked car or strange people in cafes/restaurants."
@Angelalovesdv: "I don't know why I have the go compare song in my head... :/"
@Superellie: "I have finally seen why everyone hates the go compare advert."
@AriannaHalshaw: "people who should be strung up for bad ideas: the moron who wrote that radar detector song and the idiot(s) of the go compare campaign"
The response seems overwhelmingly negative, and yet the figures tell a very different story: brand awareness of the price comparison site is up 450% as a direct result of the campaign.
Nick Hall, head of marketing at Go Compare explains the paradox: "We launched the campaign in August last year and within the first three months, we saw a 20 per cent increase in customer count.
"When you create campaign with a sonic trigger - a jingle that gets into your head - you develop a love/hate relationship with your audience. The important thing is to increase recall, cut through and stand out."
Gio Compario's trademark tune has led to a 44 per cent increase in quote volumes: this equates to a considerable return on investment according to Hall.
"The income to the company has allowed us to continue using Gio," he says. "And this has been a multi-million-pound campaign. We kept filming costs low by shooting five adverts in one go on location in South Africa, where productions costs are much cheaper than the UK. But TV is very expensive - especially during the World Cup."
The Go Compare campaign was conceived by the creative team
behind the Sheila's Wheels commercials, copywriter Chris Wilkins
and art director Sian Vickers. But even with this dynamic duo at
the helm, Go Compare's Hall admits that it was not an easy
"There's no proven ingredient for creating a great campaign," he says. "Sian and Chris found the piece of music but in the end it was completely re-written for the Go Compare advert. It happened to lend itself to an operatic way of singing, so we found Wynne Evans [who plays the character Gio] and that was that."
John McWilliams is chairman and creative principal of top ad agency Brandpool. He advises businesses to go for jingles that 'imitate great pop tunes' and 'burrow their way into the subconscious'.
This can be more to do with tagline and repetition than music
"The absolute ideal is to create an advert that becomes part of the language," he says. "Good examples include: the Marks & Spencer ad, 'This isn't just chocolate pudding...'; Apple's iPhone ad, 'There's an app for that'; and Orange's 'The future's bright, the future's Orange'.
"When they are used in conversation, the brand is effectively getting free advertising."
One brand that has made serious inroads into the public consciousness is WeBuyAnyCar.com. The jingle has become a phenomenon, with fans downloading the free ringtone from the website and even creating remixes on Youtube.
There are currently more than 100 fan-made versions on the video-sharing site - one techno remix by the BassShockers has received hundreds of thousands of views. Alas, the TV ad was axed earlier this month by the ASA for "misleading motorists". But the jingle will outlive the campaign for months to come.
Both the Go Compare and WeBuyAnyCar.com campaigns encompass far more than just TV. Gio Compario has his own blog, Twitter page, Facebook group (4,184,157 fans at last count), and even his own lingo: "Gio-isms include 'wonga' and 'sponduliks'," says Hall. "The trick was to create a 3D character."
Interestingly, Go Compare also used a radio campaign. "Radio is a great alternative for SMEs," advises Hall. "Some companies have built entire brands on radio. TV is a more passive medium. Radio is active, it's closer to the consumer."
The cost of advertising on radio varies, but a good rule of
thumb is around £2 for airtime per thousand listeners. But you have
to have the right advert.
James Cridland, award-winning radio commercial copywriter, former director at the BBC and Virgin Radio (among numerous other plaudits) has these tips for would-be advertisers:
"The client name goes in three times. The offer goes in twice. Don't try and fit a 30-second message into a 20-second ad. And remember - it's better to get a sensible repetition on a smaller audience than a huge audience not remembering your ad at all."
And one final caveat for brands looking to emulate the success of Gio Compario: heed the cautionary tale of Cillit Bang's Barry Scott. He was a 3D character too, but the firm was piled with scorn and derision when the fictional Barry began commenting on blogs and forums - even one man's heartfelt blog about his reunion with his father after 30 years.
Scott was quickly retired after the interwebs caught on to the hoax. Nick Hall has been careful not to repeat Scott's mistake: "We've made sure that Gio is not the spokesman for the Go Compare brand," he says. "He engages with consumers on other levels and talks about things in his world."
Written by Rebecca Burn-Callander
Smarta's on the hunt for your most annoying advert. Does the 118 247 jingle drive you bonkers? Did Howard from the Halifax have you switching channels? Would you consider this approach for your business? Let us know by leaving your comment below.