Earworms,  Music & Consumer Behaviour

Sticky jingles: Top 10 and thoughts on learning

Hello All. In between my normal academic life this week I have been having some fun engaging with a survey of the stickiest jingles ever made in the UK. By this stage my brain is truly ringing with these little tunes, but to be honest I am quite enjoying some of them. They bring back a lot of childhood memories and most of them make me smile 🙂

Lucky for you, I have exclusive access to the stats from this survey

The public survey of 2000 men and women was carried out by Chicken Tonight UK in June of 2012. You may not know about Chicken Tonight if you are outside the UK, Australia, Netherlands or New Zealand; the company makes a range of sauces intended to be added to chicken (makes sense right?!). The other thing they are famous for is their advertising campaign from the 1980s and 90s which featured a particularly catchy jingle and the ‘chicken dance’ (see Jingle 5 in the list below)

Since they are in the process of re-launching in the UK they decided to find out how sticky their jingle was and compared to a range of other adverts from the recent and more distant past. The top 10 were as follows (see how many you can sing!):

Top 10 most popular jingles to occupy the nation’s minds in the UK – click on these links at your own risk – they are very sticky!

  1. Just one Cornetto, give it to me (Cornetto)                                                45%
  2. Go Compare, Go Compare (Go Compare)                                                   42%
  3. P-P-P-Pick up a Penguin (Penguin)                                                             39%
  4. A Mars a day helps you work rest and play (Mars – at 16p!)                  37%
  5. I feel like Chicken Tonight (Chicken Tonight)                                             36%
  6. Do the shake and vac and put the freshness back (Shake n’ Vac)           35%
  7. If you like a lot of chocolate on your biscuit, join our club (Club)             35%
  8. We buy any car, dot com (Webuyanycar.com)                                           30%
  9. I’m Loving It (McDonalds)                                                                             28%
  10. Washing machines live long with Calgon (Calgon)                                       24%

One aspect of the survey that I found particularly interesting was the responses of parents talking about childrens’ reactions to jingles. Sixty seven percent of those polled stated that their offspring sing along to jingles, with 20% of parents noting it from the age of three years old.

Our drive to react to and engage with music as children may help us to learn important lessons about our auditory world, including the building blocks of language (Trainor & Desjardins, 2002) and emotion recognition. It also provides an invaluable way to interact with adults in a rewarding, reciprocal way.

Even more amazing, more than one in ten parents (13%) even went so far as to say that their child was singing along to jingles as young as one year old, while 14 per cent believed that their children could sing along to a jingle before they learnt to talk. What is more, friends of mine who are parents have told me that children find jingles grab their attention really easily when they have a bouncy tune.

Children’s natural attraction towards music can also be seen in their preference for hearing infant-directed speech (IDS) with its exaggerated melodic contours (“motherese”) as compared to adult-directed speech (ADS).  As far as we know IDS exists in all languages (Falk, 2004), meaning it may be universal species trait for humans that allows us to attract the attention of infants and communicate our intentions at a pre-linguistic stage (Bryant & Barrett, 2007).

Educators often take advantage of childrens’ love of musical sound (I still remember my alphabet song, for example), as do parent child music classes, but I believe we could be doing more to make the most of music as a valuable cue and motivation towards learning – so, take a cue from the jingles and give learning a bounce!


Bryant, G.A. & Barrett, H.C. (2007) Recognizing Intentions in Infant-Directed Speech: Evidence for Universals. Psychological Science, 18(8), 746-751

Falk, D. (2004). Prelinguistic evolution in early hominins: Whence motherese? Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 27, 491-541.

Trainor L. J., & Desjardins, R. N. (2002). Pitch characteristics of infant-directed speech affect infants’ ability to discriminate vowels. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review,9(2), 335-340.


  • Simon Ford

    Thanks for this Vicky, it is very interesting.

    I have a few questions on this:
    Were the ads all listed for them to choose from or did they have to recall them?
    What was the demographic split of the responses?
    What was the age split in the responses?
    Were there any real ‘favourites’?

    Many thanks

  • vicky

    Hi Simon
    I wish I could have more answers for you but I did not conduct the research, I only commented on the report findings. The research was conducted by an independent polling agency called ‘One Poll’. I do know that the 2000 people in the survey were given a large list of tunes rather than doing straight recall – and in fact, I was surprised about some of the tunes that did not get picked at all! (in particular the old R Whites advert).
    The survey did not ask anything about preferences or ‘favourites’ as far as I am aware from the results that I received – they were just interested in which of the jingles get stuck in peoples heads.
    Full methodology, questions and survey results are apparently available on request and I suggest you contact the company via laura.byrne@fleishmaneurope.com