I was watching a documentary on old time television and several people made reference to 77 SUNSET STRIP. This was a detective show in the ‘50s, known more for style over substance. But it had a very distinctive theme song. And when anybody brought up the show in any context the first thing they did was sing the logo and snap their fingers. It had become that ingrained in their psyches. If you’re familiar with the show I guarantee when you saw the words 77 SUNSET STRIP the first thing you thought of was that logo.
Musical cues, especially distinctive brief ones, can be powerful reminders of your show, product, network, radio station, whatever. It’s like whatever you are selling gets put in the desired person’s memory bank. There’s a Nationwide Insurance commercial I saw recently where Peyton Manning subconsciously just keeps humming the logo. Check it out.
It only takes a few notes, but if they’re the right notes, it’s GOLD. Here’s the 77 SUNSET STRIP theme:
For a hundred years NBC has been identified by a three-note signature. If those three notes show up in that order in any song you immediately think NBC.
Before he became a pop star, Barry Manilow used to create commercial campaigns. Some of his best known songs are only ten seconds long. Here’s a medley he does in his act.
And finally, radio stations have long used the musical jingle to brand themselves. Especially in the ‘60s when there were always two competing Top 40 stations both playing the same songs, the only way to really distinguish one from the other was from the jingles. And where they were placed was also important. When Bill Drake and Ron Jacobs re-invented Top 40 radio in 1965 they only played jingles going right into songs. That way the audience subconsciously connected KHJ with music. And if they heard a lot of jingles (KHJ’s were very short) over time they figured that KHJ played more records than their competition. Pretty crafty, no? Here’s a sample of radio jingles. If you lived in one of these towns you probably can sing along.
There was a time when TV shows were allowed to have theme songs. What glorious days those were. But today networks want only ten second intros. My point here is to not just use that as a throwaway. With the right notes, the right logo, those could become the most valuable ten seconds of your entire show.