The concept of hiring images of famous people
to help promote commercial products has been
in existence for decades.
During the golden age of Hollywood,
countless movie stars appeared in print ads
to extoll the virtues of an endless supply of products.
When TV came into its own,
stars of the small screen similarly became product sponsors…
These days we are used to seeing a wide range of celebrities in TV ads
such as Marie Osmondrecommending the Nutrisystem diet plan, Selena Gomez as a spokesperson
for UNICEF and Taylor Swift in her treadmill ad for Apple Music but of course this practice is nothing new.
There’s even an ad currently running in the UK featuring Mariah Careypitching
Walkers potato crisps and using her hit song ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU.
Looking back at television advertising in the past, catchy jingles were frequently
created using animated characters
as in I’M A CHIQUITA BANANA
and also SNAP, CRACKLE, POP
for Kellogg’s Rice Krispies
Another longtime favorite was the I’M A PEPPER commercial
for the soft drink Dr. Pepper which featured actor/singer David Naughton
who himself enjoyed a major hit in ’79 with the song MAKIN’ IT
from the movie ‘Meatballs’.
I’M A PEPPER was composed by Jake Holmes, one of a number of songwriters including Barry Manilow and Randy Newmanwho also had success writing jingles and were needless to say performing artists in their own right.
Very often, songs were written specifically for commercials as with the famous ad SEE THE USA IN YOUR CHEVROLET
which singer Dinah Shore sang in the 50’s on her TV series which Chevrolet sponsored. In other cases, existing songs were adapted
for TV spots; a memorable example was when Frank Loesser’s STANDING ON THE CORNER (Watching All The Girls Go By)
from the 1956 Broadway show “The Most Happy Fella” was reworded for the Ford Motor company as
STANDING ON THE CORNER Watching All The Fords Go By.
Vintage songs can take on a whole new life when featured in small screen ads as has happened in the past few years with
Jackie DeShannon’s 1969 hit ballad PUT A LITTLE LOVE IN YOUR HEART which she co-wrote with her brother Randy Myers
and R&B singer Jimmy Holiday. It’s been effectively used in various commercials, most recently by Subaru
for their 2016 Share The Love campaign:
From time to time, tunes composed for TV commercials turned into hit records.
For instance, in Britain in 1959 there was a very popular ad for Strand cigarettes of which the tagline was
‘You’re Never Alone With A Strand’.
The haunting melody by Howard Barnes & Cliff Adams was spelled out by a harmonica
and it became a 1960 UK hit for CliffAdams & His Orchestra under the title THE LONELY MAN THEME.
A major hit here in early ’66 was NO MATTER WHAT SHAPE (Your Stomach’s In) by The T-Bones.
Written by Sascha Burland, it was the melody from a TV commercial for Alka-Seltzer pain reliever.
A few months later, The Bob Crewe Generation charted with MUSIC TO WATCH GIRLS GO BY,
a tune written by composer Sid Ramin for a Diet Pepsi commercial.
Talking of soft drinks, The Coca-Cola company has enjoyed a long and successful history of musical commercials
on radio & TV. In the 1960’s, variations on their slogan ‘Things Go Better With Coke’ were developed into
a remarkable series of radio commercials specifically recorded by a staggering list of pop and rock stars including
Roy Orbison, Tom Jones, The Everly Brothers, Otis Redding, Neil Diamond, The Who, The Moody Blues,
Jerry Lee Lewis, Petula Clark and The Four Seasons.
Here are YouTube audio links to six other Coke commercials in that series…
Jan & Dean
Gladys Knight & The Pips
Ray Charles & Aretha Franklin
And finally the partnership of Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell:
Then in 1971, Coca-Cola launched a worldwide campaign and video with the song
I’D LIKE TO BUY THE WORLD A COKE sung by a group of young people standing on a hillside.
Here’s the actual spot:
Credited to writers Roger Cook, Roger Greenaway, Bill Backer & Roquel Billy Davis,
the song was adapted into I’D LIKE TO TEACH THE WORLD TO SING (In Perfect Harmony).
Recorded by The New Seekers with David Mackay producing,
it became a major international hit.
Please send any comments or suggestions to
As in all my postings, the advertisements and recordings listed above are personal choices
and are in no way intended as a definitive collection of the genre.
© Alan Warner, 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission
from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit
is given to Alan Warner with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.