How I Wrote That Winning Jingle (Some Personal Tips)

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So, I and my newly-found-partner-in-crime, m-Tunes, joined a jingle competition not so long ago.

And we won!

how to write a jingle

m-Tunes couldn’t make it, he had to perform with Dekat in Jakarta.

It’s been quite a while for me to win anything. In fact, I don’t own that many trophies in my life to legitimize me as that “multi-talented” person like some people have said about me.

Anyway, I’ve created my own set of rules when it comes to songwriting, and it’s only appropriate now that I won a trophy that I can share some of them here for everyone. But first, let me share my favorite Indonesian commercial jingle of all time.

You can say, this is the ONLY Indonesian commercial jingle that really sold me. (Kudos to Ari Darmawan, the man behind this unforgettable jingle!)

Kosong delapan, kosong sembilan, delapan, sembilan empat kali
Kosong delapan kosong sembilan delapan sembilan empat kali
Telkomnet Instan! Telkomnet Instan!

English translation: 

Zero eight, zero nine, eight, nine four times
Zero eight zero nine
eight nine four times
Telkomnet Instan!
Telkomnet Instan!


The lyrics are efficiently effective. It only contains the dial-up numbers and the brand name. No tagline, no company pretentious bullshit whatsoever. It’s simplicity at its best. Maybe this minimum-vocab-jingle is conceived from a lack of brief from the client faced with ridiculous deadline (it could happen!). We will never know, but it works!

The tunes make life easier. Good jingles are catchy, but there’s more credit to this piece, because it really turns a once impossible-to-remember dial up number into something that is impossible-to-forget. I gotta tell you, I do a very lousy job at remembering even one digit, so I know how addictively helpful this jingle was.

The production is not too overpowering. The main focus is on the lyrics. If you add too many gimmicks you will ruin the delivery.

So, with those references, I figured out my basic rules and created our own jingle for EMS!

EMS (Express Mail Service), EMS (Express Mail Service), EMS (whoa…)
Kirim barang cepat, tiga hari sampai
Tarif kompetitif, luas jangkauannya
Mudah dilacak, status pengirimannya
Jaminan ganti rugi bila kiriman terlambat sampai hilang atau rusak sesuai ketentuan lembaga Pos Dunia
EMS (Express Mail Service), EMS (Express Mail Service), EMS (whoa…)

Now, my basic rules: how to write a jingle 1. Focus on what to sell.
If it is a competition and you don’t get the chance to discuss or hear it from the client themselves, you need to start your own research. I read the whole product profile page and Googled about EMS all day to find materials to write about. Things you need to consider:

  • What does the brand’s name stand for?
  • What are they selling?
  • Who’s using it?
  • What are they promoting right now?

how to write a jingle2. Keep it simple and stupid (KISS).
Hence its name – commercial jingle. It is an obligation to make it as commercial as possible. Make it attractive and loved by everyone! Here are some tips:

  • As long you keep it sing-along-able, you’re on the right track.
  • Go listen to pop song hits for inspiration. They are made commercially and usually have a lot catchy tunes to draw from, but good jingle needs to be much more simple and stupid than anything you’ve heard.
  • Repetition helps, but remember not to fall into annoyance.

getreal3. Write honestly and stop making things up.
Now, the most common unflattering thing I found in most submissions for most jingle competition is how most musicians tend to promote the company (lines that include “oh-how-so-great-we-are” and the like), rather than jump right through to just sell it (point 1). Commercial jingle? More like company hymn! Here’s what I thought:

  • It’s 2015, people are avoiding ads even more, so please don’t add those feel-good-company-bragging-lines to ears of your audience.
  • If your research on point 1 doesn’t provide you enough writing material, then use what you got. FYI, I dragged my lyrics straight from EMS poster I found on their website just because I think it was just enough information for the public.
  • Forget ass-kissing the client’s company. While I’m not against writing what I (honestly) wish the company to be, I refuse to write things I don’t understand. It’s still better than coming up with expected pretentiousness. Boring.

OK. So these are my tips on making a commercial jingle. I understand these tips might not work on every circumstances, since you will still meet various types of clients in the industry. Not everyone wishes for an ideal commercial jingle anyway. :P

On another note, last Saturday was my first time ever to ever perform alone since forever! Ah, I really missed the smell of fresh air when I’m up on stage! IMG_3591_resize how to write a winning jingle IMG_3623_resize IMG_3627crop_resize IMG_3641_resize IMG_3648_resize how to write a jingle IMG_3693_resize Oh, right. It was also the first time I found out my Ableton Push won’t light up enough outdoors. Duh.


how to write a jingle

How my Push supposed to look and how I made it looked in the end… -_-

Thank you for reading! Keep creating!


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