Decades after they first hit the airwaves, old advertising jingles are finding a new purpose in Puerto Rico beyond selling—they’re providing non-pharmacological therapy to Alzheimer’s patients.
Music in general is astounding for its ability to instantly transport a person back to a particular place and time. And advertising jingles may be even more evocative of the past, given they are usually written to be as catchy as possible. (The Snoopy Sno-Cone Machine jingle, circa 1982, will never, ever leave my brain.) Music from the past is also known to bring back memories and ease symptoms of agitation in middle-stage Alzheimer’s patients.
Combining these elements, VMLY&R Commerce & Health developed a program where old jingles are being used as Alzheimer’s therapy. The case study below gives a glimpse of how it works, including the ability for caregivers to create personalized jingle playlists based on their patient’s birthdate.
The project is especially welcome in Puerto Rico, as recent research suggests the people there may be genetically more prone to Alzheimer’s disease. The disease is now the fourth leading cause of death in people over 65—a four-fold increase in the last 20 years.
VMLY&R Commerce partnered with the Spanish Broadcasting System, owner of the most popular radio stations in Puerto Rico, to look through the archives and resurrect old jingles.
“We analyzed their over 80 years of radio archives to identify the most famous advertising jingles with the support of several jingle producers and musicians,” Facundo Paglia, chief creative officer of VMLY&R Commerce & Health in San Juan, told Ad Age. (Luckily, there were no usage rights issues—Paglia said the jingles were owned by SBS.)
The jingles include:
• La Gloria – “Tus zapatos en La Gloria” (huge shoe retailer)
• Servicios Generales – “Mi Escuela” (Department of Education)
• Banco de Ponce – “Mi Banco te resuelve” (huge bank from the south of the island)
• Mazola – “Nuestra herencia”
• Coca-Cola - “Comparte una sonrisa” (share a smile)
• Nescafé – “Para mí y para usted”
Paglia said the project as a whole is a good reminder of the power of jingles generally, even if they’re not as commonly used as they once were.
Jingles were the first ads that impacted pop culture, something we all aim for nowadays,” he said. “We already see old jingles coming back as part of the vintage or nostalgia trend, plus different evolutions of jingles based on social media consumption and even technology like AI.”