Poetry is an art form, and poets like Shakespeare, Yeats, and Dr. Seuss bring pleasure to millions. Poetry is central to songs, too, from ballads to rock.
But there’s another use of poetry which might be more familiar to your students: commercial jingles. Study them as a fun diversion in National Poetry Month.
First, listen to some examples. Give students a homework assignment to find a good example of a song or chant written for advertising purposes and make a class list, or go directly to the classics.
YouTube is a great source of old commercial jingles. Some of these may be offensive, though; discussing the way commercials reflect the culture of the time can be great for older students, but you may not want to introduce this element into this lesson.
My personal favorite is the Rice Krispies quodlibet:
Once you’ve heard a few examples, make a class list of the characteristics of a catchy jingle. Discuss rhythm, rhyme, and wordplay in the examples you’ve examined. Discuss the content, too: what sales points are being made. In the Rice Krispies song, no features or benefits of the product are mentioned. Is that typical of jingles?
Think about the music and the delivery, too. Is there a genre of music that seems more effective for jingles, or is the commercial jingle a genre of its own?
Ask students, too, whether they think they’re influenced by commercial jingles. Most think they aren’t, but research shows that people are 10 times more likely to remember a jingle as to recall a slogan.
Now it’s time to write your own. Perhaps your school could do with a good jingle!
- Decide on the main points you want to cover. Perhaps the awesomeness of your sports teams or the unbeatable cafeteria will be the focal points, or maybe you have more AP class offerings than most. Maybe you, like many commercial jingle writers, don’t have a serious point to make but just want to get your jingle stuck in people’s heads.
- Come up with some rhymes that make your point.
- Fill in with enough words to complete the jingle.
- Choose a tune from those the class already knows, or make up a new one to go with your words.
Spread your jingle around!
Combine this lesson with our classroom logo lesson plan and do some thinking about economics, marketing, and branding.