The Best Holiday Radio Jingles of All Time

holiday radio jingles

Have you browsed the toy aisle at Target lately? You might recognize some throwback items.

Fisher-Price is bringing back replicas of the 1980s and 1990s toys. CareBears, My Little Pony, Saved By the Bell, Smurfs, and Alvin and The Chipmunks have all made comebacks in the past ten years.

Advertisers are tapping into the joys of yesteryear in an attempt to counter pandemic fatigue and the stress of 2020 and 2021. TV ads, shows, movies, even holiday radio jingles can use the same concepts for success this season.

It turns out today’s American parents are enamored with nostalgia, and the holiday season is the perfect time for children of the 1980s and 1990s to take their kids on a walk down memory lane. Just ask any parent over 35 if they’ve watched Home Alone or A Christmas Story with their kids.

Keep reading to revel in the holiday season cheer these vintage TV and holiday radio jingles will inspire.

What Makes Great a Holiday Radio Jingle?

Holiday radio jingles should invoke listeners’ emotions. The best Christmas radio advertisements grab attention and keep it. So how do successful holiday advertising radio jingles combine these two concepts?

Creating a sense of nostalgia is an effective tool in holiday advertising. GenX and Millenials love to relive their childhoods. Bringing back popular 1980s and 90s holiday radio jingles grab attention and invoke emotion for these generations.

Not only do they get excited about the music from their past, but they also want to share those sounds (and the feelings they conjure up) with their kids.

Incorporating the right instruments is essential as well. Without those iconic festive sounds, you can’t create a memorable holiday radio jingle. Composers are experts at mixing instruments with bells and vocals.

And some holiday commercials stand out more than others simply because they master the mix!

Hershey’s Holiday Bells: We Wish You a Merry Christmas

Nothing rings in the holiday season like a Hershey’s Chocolate Kiss commercial. This timeless classic is proof that effective marketing doesn’t have to break the bank.

If you don’t remember, this holiday classic portrays ten red and green Hershey’s Kisses in a triangle formation. There’s a lone silver Kiss at the triangle’s base directing the operation.

When the director nods, each green and red Kiss takes their turn, ringing a note of the classic holiday song, We Wish You a Merry Christmas. The silver Kiss director waves its Hershey flag to the beat of the music.

The simple bell-influenced soundtrack has become synonymous with Hershey Chocolate Kisses. This jingle is a stroke of marketing genius at only fifteen seconds long.

M&M’s: Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy

Just try listening to the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy and not hear the memorable phrase, “They do exist!” This commercial portrays two classic M&M characters leaving milk and cookies out for St. Nick.

When the pair come across Santa stuffing their stockings, everyone is surprised. One animated chocolate morsel yells, “He does exist!” Shocked, Santa replies, “They do exist!” and promptly faints.

This whole exchange takes place to the sweet, familiar tune of the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy.

Taco John’s: Nachos Navidad

“I want to wish you a Merry Christmas, from the bottom of my heart! And from Taco John’s!”

Does this sound familiar? We bet you can hear the tune Feliz Navidad—made famous by Jose Feliciano—in your mind right now. Taco John’s gives us something to look forward to with their Nachos Navidad each year.

The annual red and green nachos aren’t just a festive favorite for the dinner table. Each Taco John’s franchise donates a portion of their holiday nacho proceeds to local charity organizations.

Pairing a holiday giving campaign with the sounds and tastes of the festive season is a clever way to run an ad campaign that benefits everyone!

Campbell’s Soup: Let It Snow

In 1998, Campbell’s used the classic holiday tune, Let it Snow, in a now-iconic commercial. In the ad, a snowman is unhappy about the cold and windy weather. It makes its way inside and sits down to eat a warming bowl of Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup.

Once it gets warm, the snow melts off the snowman, and a little boy is sitting in its place. This Campbell’s Soup commercial is guaranteed to make every viewer feel the coziness of the holiday season.

Coca-Cola: Always Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola has always used its own jingle to ring in the holiday season. Their “Always Coca-Cola” commercials have featured brightly lit semi-trucks to polar bears since the early 1900s.

Play this song for anyone born before 1995 and they’ll recognize it right away!

More Popular Sounds of the Season

There are plenty of seasonal songs, but some have serious staying power. The best Christmas radio advertisements tap into the concept of the earworm—you know, that song you hear playing over and over in your head.

From classical music to Top 40 hits, here are some of the most recognized festive tunes.

Anything from the Nutcracker

It’s probably safe to conclude that Tschaikovsky had no idea how wildly popular this eight-numbered suite would become. These pieces were composed in the early 1890s and still play in almost every retail outlet.

White Christmas

This Bing Crosby classic was originally performed in the movie Holiday Inn. It’s catchy, fun, and sure to bring a smile to anyone’s face.

There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays

This classic has been co-opted by almost every musical genre. It’s upbeat, happy, and easy to sing along to. This song proves that nostalgia can be a powerful tool in advertising year after year.

All I Want for Christmas Is You

It’s almost impossible to listen to this Mariah Carey hit and not tap your foot to the beat. From jiggling in your seat at work to an all-out dance party, it has that perfect mix of rhythm, lyrics, vocals, and nostalgia to get everyone’s attention.

Other great covers of this song include versions by The Roots and Jimmy Fallon with Miriah Carey and the Piano Guys.

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Frank Sinatra made this tune famous in the 1950s. Depending on the visuals, vocals, and instruments this song is paired with, it can be tear-jerking or heartwarming—or even both simultaneously.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Despite the controversy surrounding this tune, it has been embraced by all kinds of companies, singers, and celebrities. Few people can forget Will Ferrell and Zoey Deschanel’s rendition in the Christmas movie Elf.

In other contemporary duets, the words are often changed to make them a little less, shall we say, culturally awkward. And this is a solution embraced by radio advertisers seeking to utilize this catchy holiday tune still, too.

The Channuka Song

This ditty by actor, director, and comedian Adam Sandler is a knee-slapper for sure. Anyone who loves this parody song should look up the Diwali version by Steve Carell of The Office. (A parody of a parody—meta, we know!)

Little St. Nick

What this song lacks in meaningful lyrics, it makes up for in pep. Brian Williams and The Beach Boys’ unmistakable harmonies shine through in this holiday favorite.

Jingle Bell Rock

Bobbly Helms, Brenda Lee, and Lindsay Lohan have all ensured Jingle Bell Rock has remained relevant to numerous generations of pop music lovers. This upbeat favorite would be a good lead-in or lyric re-write option for a holiday radio jingle.

Carol of the Bells

This instrumental favorite is a Christmas classic. Many people associate this piece of music with the choir scene from the family film Home Alone. It’s an unmistakable holiday season song.

What Makes Holiday Radio Jingles So Catchy?

If you listen to a lot of holiday music, you’ll start to notice familiar themes and sounds. It’s clear that people associate certain rhythms, instruments, and arrangements with the US festive season.

Bells or chimes are often used in intros and outros. Many holiday radio jingles have upbeat tempos and brass accompaniments.

Jingle or Sleigh Bells

Those iconic sleigh bells conjure up visions of Santa on his sleigh. Using jingle bells as an entrance or exit sound is always a great way to start or end a holiday radio advertisement. A sprinkle of jingle bells mid-commercial is a subtle way to add interest to a holiday radio advertisement.

Ho, Ho, Ho

Adding Santa’s jolly old voice to radio jingles for holiday advertising might seem cliche, but it works every time. It’s a practical and obvious way to encourage listeners to get into the holiday spirit.

Handbells and Chimes

“Ding, dong! Ding, dong!”

You’ll hear this unmistakable Christmas sound on the iconic Hershey’s Kiss commercial. Handbells are also an essential feature of Paul McCartney’s Simply Having a Wonderful Christmastime.

Listen carefully, and you’ll start to hear handbells in many of the most popular holiday tunes.

Children’s Choirs

The sweet, innocent, and pure sound of children singing is the perfect partner for a holiday radio jingle. Check out The Christmas Cannon by Trans Siberian Orchestra for a great example of what can be achieved

How to Make the Best Holiday Radio Jingles

The pros at Killer Spots Agency can help you create that oh-so-perfect mix for your holiday radio jingle. Your jingle will be 100% custom created and 100% yours. We also offer web design, social media management, and SEO services to really get your message out to the right audience.

Contact us today, and we’ll partner with you to ring in Christmas with a holiday radio jingle to remember.

A Step-by-Step Guide to How Radio Jingles Are Made

how radio jingles are made

Radio jingles are an iconic staple of advertising. They’ve been around since the beginning of radio, and always leave potential customers with a catchy tune in their head.

But there’s a lot that goes into making a good radio jingle besides a catchy tune. If you’ve ever found yourself wondering how radio jingles are made, you’ve come to the right place.

We’ve put together a detailed guide that goes through the radio jingle process from inception to airwaves. If you’d like to learn more, keep reading! 

History Of Radio Jingles

While radio technology had developed in the late 19th century, it was not until the turn of the 20th that it began to catch on with the public.

Starting around 1905, commercially-available radios were available for purchase. By 1920, radios were fairly common household items.

At this time, they were primarily used for news reports. The widespread commercial use of radio had still yet to be explored.

In 1926, General Mills was credited with creating the first radio jingle for their Wheaties cereal. It aired on Christmas Eve in the Minneapolis-St Paul area.

General Mills noticed something interesting: their sales skyrocketed, but only in the Twin Cities area. The jingle was successful as an advertising tactic, so they began broadcasting it in other areas, and sales followed.

The rest, as they say, is history. The use of radio jingles skyrocketed shortly afterward and became a staple of radio for decades to come. 

Interestingly, it’s not just companies that use radio jingles to advertise. Each radio station call sign (the 4-letter combination given to each station) has its own unique jingle, even today.

How Radio Jingles Are Made

Some people think that jingles are recorded in-house or at the radio station itself. But there is actually an entire industry that revolves around the creation of radio jingles.

Writing, recording, and producing a radio jingle is a specialized skill set that only a few professionals are really skilled in.

If you’re looking for a radio jingle for your business, make sure that you go with the pros. A bad jingle may be memorable for the wrong reasons. 

Figuring out a Target Audience

The part of how radio jingles are made is identifying who your customers are. Think of your jingle as a company’s audio logo. It forms a crucial part of a brand’s identity.

Identifying your customer base will ensure that you are getting your jingle played on the right stations at the right time. If you’re a hip young company, you may not want to air your jingle during a late-night talk radio show.

It will also help you to set the tone of your jingle. While all jingles are catchy, the instrumentation and vocals can communicate a wide range of “personalities” to your potential customers.

Writing a Hook/Catchphrase

Usually, the first part of making radio jingles is writing the hook. These are the words and melody that make up the vocal part of the jingle.

This is a lot harder than it seems. You have to convey the entire message of your jingle with just a few notes and words. 

Think about one of the most well-known jingles in the world: McDonald’s. You don’t even have to hear it without “I’m Lovin’ It” popping into your head.

That’s the power of a good hook. It’s simple, easy to remember, and catchy. This should encompass what your company is about.

If you have a tagline, you might already have a catchy hook. All you need is a melody to go with it. 

Typically, professional jingle writers are your best bet for crafting the perfect catchy hook.

Composing the Music

After the main hook is written, the rest of the score has to be filled in. This is very dependent on the overall tone of your jingles for the radio.

You wouldn’t want to pair old-timey orchestral instrumentation with a poppy, bright jingle. The instrumentals should match the tone and “vibe” of the melody.

Instrumentation is written out for each instrument that will be recorded. This includes guitar, bass, drums, keys, and other instruments.

A professional composer should be used at this point. If you are using studio musicians, you need the sheet music to be readable.

Some professional jingle writers can also write all of the instruments in a digital audio workstation. This can save you time and money on recording in a full studio with a band.

Booking the Studio

Regardless of whether you choose a full band or to just record vocals, you will need to book a recording studio.

It is important not to skimp on this step. A high-quality recording in a dedicated studio space will sound better and be much easier to mix and master later. 

Generally, studio time for radio jingles is not as extensive as recording a music album. 

However, you need to budget time for multiple takes. Vocalists often do upwards of fifty takes in the studio to get the perfect one. Live musicians will also need time to do several takes. 

Make sure that the audio engineer you work with knows what format your recordings need to be in. This is something you should consult with your mixing engineer with. 

They may want stems or full tracks. There is also the question of format, which can vary from studio to studio. 

Finding Musicians

If you are using live instruments for recording radio jingles, you are going to be in the market for studio musicians.

Studio musicians are dedicated professionals who are trained to learn music that other people have written and play it for recording.

They will be much more efficient and easier to work with than just hiring random musicians off of Craigslist. 

Most studio musicians will bring their own gear, although some studios have plenty of gear for use as well.

Make sure that the musicians fit the jingle’s sound. Ensure that they have quality sheet music or charts to work off of. This will make the recording process go much smoother.

Finding Vocalists

Finding an experienced jingle singer is probably the most important part of the recording process. 

Different vocalists have different styles and vocal qualities. Most professional jingle singers will have portfolios available of past work, so make sure they will fit the sound.

If the jingle ad also has a voice-over, think about hiring a separate narrator. Usually, narrators are a separate specialty from jingle singers. 

Recording Process

Once everyone is in the studio, it is a matter of setting up microphones and recording the tracks.

Generally, the musicians will track first, and then the vocalists will add their work on top.

At this point, lean on the expertise of the jingle writer who will be producing the session, and the audio engineer who records it.

They will be able to pull out the best performances from the musicians and vocalists.

As mentioned, the recording process may take several hours, even with an experienced team. This is crucial for getting the best results for a jingle. 

The recording studio session is a key part of how radio jingles are made. Make sure that expectations are clear and that everything is planned in advance. A smooth session is the best session. 

Mixing and Mastering

After the tracks are recorded, your jingle enters the mixing phase. This is where your jingle producer or an experienced mixing engineer will treat the tracks with some studio magic and expertise.

Even the best raw recordings in the world will still need to be mixed, so this step should not be rushed. A good mix will ensure that every part sounds good and that the overall sound is perfectly balanced.

After the initial mixing is finished, your jingle will be mastered. Mastering is a special process that balances the mix to sound good on all kinds of sound systems including car stereos and cheap earbuds.

At the end of this process, you will generally receive multiple versions of your jingle.

It is not uncommon to get a full package: acapella vocals, instrumentals, a full radio spot, and just the hook. Each track will be mixed and mastered perfectly and be ready to send to the radio stations for use.

Using Your Jingle

After you get your masters back, you will need to send them to the radio stations in the markets you are targeting.

This involves paying the station an advertising fee in order to have your jingle played. Some stations will charge by length, while others will charge per play. 

Generally, you own all of the licensing rights to your jingle after the recording process is finished.

Some jingle producers will ask for a cut of the profits, while others offer all-inclusive packages. Make sure to check beforehand.

In addition to radio play, you can also use your jingle in TV commercials and online streaming platforms. This will really help you get your money’s worth out of your jingle!

What Makes a Good Radio Jingle?

Obviously, there is quite a bit of work and expertise that goes into how radio jingles are made.

If you want the best radio jingle possible, you’ll want to go with a professional.

Luckily, we offer a whole host of advertising services, including the best award-winning jingle writing and production in the business.

Check out our list of services, and please feel free to contact us at 1-800-639-9728.