The jingle had no definitive debut: its infiltration of the radio was more of an evolutionary process than a sudden innovation.
Product advertisements with a musical tilt can be traced back to 1923, around the same time commercial radio came to the public. However, if one entity has the best claim to the first jingle it’s General Mills, who aired the world’s first singing commercial. The seminal radio bite, entitled “Have You Tried Wheaties?”, was first released on the Christmas Eve of 1926. It featured four male singers, who were eventually christened “The Wheaties Quartet”, singing the following lines:
Have you tried Wheaties?
They’re whole wheat with all of the bran.
Won’t you try Wheaties?
For wheat is the best food of man.
While the lyrics may appear hokey to modern day society, the advertisement was an absolute sensation to consumers at the time. In fact, it was such a success that it served to save the otherwise failing brand of cereal. In 1929, General Mills was seriously considering dropping Wheaties on the basis of poor sales. However, advertising manager Sam Gale pointed out that an astounding 30,000 of the 53,000 cases of cereal that General Mills sold were in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, the only location where “Have You Tried Wheaties?” was being aired at the time. Encouraged by the incredible results of this new method of advertising, General Mills changed tactics entirely. Instead of dropping the cereal, it purchased nationwide commercial time for the advertisement. The resultant climb in sales single-handedly saved the now über-popular cereal.
Sources: Ask the Expert, General Mills
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