Alex Casey goes down a YouTube rabbit hole to try and find the best New Zealand advertising jingle ever created.
It happened without warning. Staring into my simmering bolognese last week, something came over me. I turned slowly, the harsh kitchen lights dimming to a single spotlight. I held the saucy wooden spoon up to my mouth, my dressing gown transforming into a floor length sequin dress. A hush fell as I sang a single line to an enraptured audience of two cats, ending with a trill that would make Ariana Grande quake in her thigh-high boots.
“Fit a FuujjiiittssuuuUUUuuuuuuuUUuu”
Trust me, the cats would have clapped if they had proper hands and any sense of decorum.
Jingles are the great unifier of our fair nation. A high level source confirmed that even the All Blacks sing jingles together because they are the only tunes that everyone knows apart from the national anthem. Jump onto any party bus at a certain hour of the night and you’ll be guaranteed to slay with a rousing rendition of ‘Tony’s Tyre Service’. Stuck in a quiet elevator? Mutter “cats prefer Chef” and see just how many soft meows you get back.
Over the past week or so, New Zealand jingles have taken over my life. I’ve thought about them more than I’ve ever thought about anything, I’ve talked about them with basically everyone I’ve come into contact with, I’ve gasped awake several times with CAROLINE EVE, YOU WEAR IT SOOOO WELLLLLLL tearing through my brain. The notes on my phone look like this:
There’s also been a lot of fierce discussion in the office about what is and isn’t a jingle, with the utterance “that’s not a jingle, that’s a song sung by fleas as part of a skit” being made aloud by one anonymous Spinoff staffer. But which New Zealand jingle is the very best? Based on my research across social media, asking various celebrities and canvassing strangers on the street, here are my findings from worst to best.
49) The Mad Butcher’s Meat
48) Lion Red
I know we are supposed to just be rating the jingle itself here, but in what WORLD would some lads doing a bro-down beer chant inspire three women to get up and dance on the bar in cowboy hats? LeAnn Rimes wanted more from us as a nation and we let her down.
Imagine pining for the days when all we had were sammies and bacon and egg pie! I’ll take bok choy, sushi or maybe Thai absolutely any day. Hold the tomato sauce, you absolute sicko.
This jingle is single-handedly responsible for a whole generation of burnt-out sicklings who refuse to take a single day off work despite being preserved in a thick layer of snot.
Make Lumberjacks Wear Pink Tights Again.
44) FM Milk
A niche offer, but a favourite of glamorous TV celebrity Josh Thomson. “It awoke a feral madness in me as a child,” he recalled. “I would run around the house screaming ‘Strawberry.. Chocolate… Ba na na na na naaaah na na!’”
43) Lighting Direct
Thinking lighting, think Lighting Direct *click click*. A basic tune, but I am a tremendous fan of any song or jingle where you have to get the timing absolutely perfect. See also: nailing the last ‘I’m no superman’ in the Scrubs theme and also the “duh” in Billie Eilish’s ‘bad guy’.
Ooh ah: ooh ah.
41) University of Otago
A rousing coming-of-age Scarfie tune featuring none other that goth-mode Kanoa Lloyd!!!!!!!!!!
40) Georgie Pie
Omg why am I crying over this soulful pie track.
39) 0900 70 70 70
For this entry I call upon our own Toby Morris to join the party. “Before the days of scrolling through your feeds late at night feeling lonely, we used to endlessly watch crap TV and feel lonely. ‘Join the party’ is the perfectly lame call to action and the perfectly generic conversation (‘Really, you’re into that stuff too?’) from the perfectly generic friends (‘The band? It was crankin’!’) was the perfectly ’90s reminder that everyone and everything sucked.”
38) Pinky bar
My dad is literally the only person to flag this ancient incantation. Only five fucking cents! Take me back.
Featuring the line I want on my gravestone: “Munchos – taste real mean!”
36.5) Speaking of rumbling tummys, we must also celebrate this 1970s Kentucky Fried Chicken jingle which YES I did forget in the initial line-up but have now ranked to reflect the approximate number of people who have got in touch to tell me that I missed it. A wild ride through the NZ countryside with two unruly, hungry children. No seat belts, no worries. Ronald will sort that in 20 years or so.
36) Spray ‘n Wipe
You could basically weave all the Spray n’ Wipe jingles into the world’s most stressful musical about a housewife on the decades-long brink of a mental breakdown.
Never forget the various iterations of the Popsicle band, from Mr Popsicle Jelly Belly himself to the absolutely raucous Big Trev. “Still swing it to this day,” wrote Youtube user Reetlegna. “I remember this dude painting a posical [sic] mural on the outside of the dairy in Ohope. Great times.”
34) Expol Underfloor Insulation
*extremely helpful penguin under your house voice* Oh yeah.
33) St Pierre’s
This one came up a lot, but often wrapped in a salty layer of loathing. Colour me absolutely charmed by this acoustic cover though.
God I would love to eat a Schmacko. Delicious meat leather.
Until exactly right now I thought that Bournvita and Bovril were the same product. Respect.
29) Creme Egg
As someone with a deeply held fear of authority, that high-pitched staccato “DON’T GET CAUGHT” remains truly chilling.
28) Tiny Teddies
If you can make it through the teddy bear rap and the fact that they don’t have eyelids, the chorus really soars. The anti-Folau biscuit anthem.
A frenzied spiel that mirrors the exact levels stress and delusion one feels when entering a store full of vitamins. WhenyoushopatHardy’syouwalkoutfeelinggoodHEEEEY!!
26) Polar Pops
And to think, someday soon a child is going to watch this very ad, look at you wide-eyed, and ask you what a polar bear was. Classic. On a lighter note, I would love to hear Marlon Williams cover this jingle – so juicy, so sweet, that would be a real yummy treat.
25) Gerard Roofs
Coolest move ever by John Rowles to whip open his shirt, wander onto a stranger’s property and start waxing lyrical about roofing. More like Cheryl Moana Wowee.
24) Sealy, really
“That is my favourite jingle,” says fancy television producer Jon Bridges. “It has everything. Nostalgia, rhyme, assonance, indecipherable words. It is also a great tune.” Much more melodic and lullaby-esque than Bedpost’s ‘You Can Sleep On It’.
23) State Insurance
I’m getting caught up in the glitz and glamour here, but what a wildly ambitious ad. And yes the jingle itself is a cover, but to borrow a patriotic threat from Youtube user Boul Shyte, “if u dont know the lyrics i will personally disqualify ur passport.” Shyte’s word is law.
22) Crunchie and/or Milky Bar ad
There was a time in this fair country when we were all cowboys and we were absolutely mad for chocolate. I’m not a huge fan of the genre, but I respect the hustle and also, the homage. Hokey pokey baaaaarrrrr.
21) Pizza Hut
Yes, it’s good for remembering the number. In fact, I’ve forgotten almost every phone number I’ve ever known apart from this, 111, and 0800 GET LASER. Shit, there’s another one.
20) Honey Puffs
These bees are under the pump. Not only do they have to not only make honey, but they also have to carefully adorn each individual rice puff with the sweet nectar? Hectic. I still find it very satisfying when the honey blob drops right into the Honey Puff, mind you. The original ASMR.
19) Blue Bird Chips
Lord give me the confidence of these penguins trying to pull off the illusion that they are carrying these clearly fake packets of chippies. This ad makes me laugh very, very hard.
18) Sanitarium Peanut Butter
Seems like a Dana Carvey in Master of Disguise joint and, for that, I salute this ad. Hmm I wonder how many kids got into PB-based STEM after this ad? Go Kiwi.
17) The Warehouse
Iconic, sure, but marred with controversy. According to enraged civilian Donnie Cuzens, the Warehouse jingle lost its mojo in the mid-2000s. “Instead of ending with a nice descending symmetry moving a third from G to E (barg-ain), the last note is now jumps and entire fifth up to the above octave C (barg-AIN),” he wrote in an email.
“What was once a subdued nursery rhyme jingle became a sign of relentless modernity and hyper-positivity in modern marketing. An unnecessary and jarring change that has thoroughly and permanently shaken my confidence in the Warehouse brand.” His feedback leaves me wondering if there will ever be… red shed redemption.
16) Cadbury Flake
Only the finest Gregorian chant for only the crumbliest, flakiest chocolate. Would sound absolutely lovely sung by a choir in the Waitomo Caves omg. Speaking of Gregorian chants, the Eta chips ditty “big taste always gets you through” would be a great encore number.
15) Tony’s Tyre Service
Did you know that the main guy in these ads is called Steve, not Tony? My childhood is ruined.
14) Rose’s Chocolates
Thank you very much for fucking us over.
13) McDonald’s Make it Click campaign
A Thanos favourite ha ha ha ha ha nah #dontspoiltheendgame. Thanks to the big burger clown for saving my life and the lives of so many New Zealand children. I did always find the lips on the car quite weird, mind you.
First of all: feminist icon. Second of all: how good were the days when the fitspo diet was seemingly eating a whole loaf of bread and being able to run up a hill? Take me back.
What can I say, the people still really, really love this cheese tune from dynamic good friends Ches and Dale. And how good is this comment below the video? “The cheese was not the best. I described it as rubber once. The song is a classic in its own way I guess. My Dad is Ches.”
MY DAD IS CHES.
A jingle that raised many of us to believe that we too could run a triathlon and it didn’t even matter if we came last. Well, let me tell you this. Your childhood was a lie. Winning matters and Kiwi kids weren’t even the first Weetbix kids. “For ages, we’d been told that Weet-Bix made us special,” Dylan Reeve wrote for The Spinoff. “We were innately connected to the crunchy and, let’s be honest, not that tasty breakfast biscuits. They were the building blocks of a Kiwi kid… It was a point of childhood national pride. Now it turned out we weren’t that special at all.”
9) Skyline Garages
Single-handedly responsible for bringing “gottage”, the world’s funniest portmanteau, into common parlance, I’m also told the Skyline jingle is a favourite warm-up tune for Lawrence Arabia. Special mention to “who can? Total span”, whose barnhouse ditty has been entirely eclipsed by everyone urgently gotta getting a gottage.
8) McDonald’s Kiwiburger
This DJ Ronald tuneage is both the “we didn’t start the fire” of New Zealand and also a phenomenally brazen rewriting of our cultural fabric. Maybe we should try it. Kiiiwiiis loooooove…. hot pools, rugby balls, The Spinoff, snapper schools, world peace, woolly fleece, The Bulletin and raising beasts. Chilly bins, cricket wins, fast skis, golf tees, silver ferns, Kauri trees, Real Pod episode love one please!
7) Friskies Tux
An epic ode to the relationship between one farmer, his dogs, and some dog food. Another neg to the city folk – “while they take their showers, he’s been up for hours” – rounded off with some extremely wholesome canine friendship. From Cape Reinga, to the Bluff, there’s only one dog-based jingle that’s good enough… and it’s this.
Mark my words: if I ever need a forklift to lower my body into the Earth, there is only one shoppe I’m headed to. If we can put aside the fact that the register of the last “and putting it down” part is basically the actual brown note, this jingle is perfect. Special shout out to the extended version ft. the achingly simple lyrics: “place it here or take it there.” Italian chef kiss.
5) Rainbow’s End
Honestly, RIP to the hokey old Rai and Bow, RIP the Pirate Ship and RIP this absolute doowop humdinger of a barbershop jingle by Purest Form. For more white skivvy + coloured blazer action, I implore you to watch their cover of ‘Message to my Girl’. That’s rainbow magic.
4) 3B Chafing Cream
I’ve been told by jingle-critical feminists that this is far too high in the ranking. But I believe this to be a suitably morose anthem for the anxiety age. Do we have to suffer and cry the whole day through? Tag yourself, I’m the sobbing bum cheeks.
3) The Tile Depot
A beloved indie darling from the perfect opening lyrics: “fantastic tiles”. Get that accordion cranking and let Looigi take you on a journey through the CGI wonderland of Tile Depot. So many styles. The quality so HIIII-IIIGGH, the prices are so LOOO-OOOW, THE BEST DEEAAL IN TOOOOOOWWWN AT THE TILE DEEEPPOOOOOOOT. This will be the song that plays as the Crown forklift carries my body to the grave, rest assured.
Someone call Netsafe, because I have never in my life had so many people contact me to say “show us your crack” than I have in the past seven days. Written by none other than Ben Boyce himself as a commercial radio writer in the naughty noughties, this jingle remains a winner so long as bum puns remain crack up. Which is sadly forecast to be forever. Sorry, Smith and Smith.
The definitive jingle, since rebooted with a female protagonist, that unites the north with the south, the sea with the land, the car with the boat. Yes, there’s a morbid reading of the song to be had, but I prefer to let Barry Saunders yodel on about my potential upcoming holiday with a heart full of hope re: sailing to the other side with a nice beer or juice. “It doesn’t get better than the Interislander song,” says impassioned fan Dominic McGurk. “It’s been my party piece on guitar for years. My busking go-to around the world. Bringing NZ together.”
Frankly it’s enough to make this misty-eyed jingle fan cry enough wah-s to fill the mighty Cook Strait.
UPDATE: EPILOGUE OF SHAME AND REMORSE
It has been brought to my attention that several crucial jingles have been left off this list. I wish to rectify their exclusion with a series of heartfelt apologies. I sincerely apologise to Giltrap City Toyota, for you are the one and I am certainly not the one. I wish to apologise to Fiona McDonald and the good people at Primo, may you forever continue to go with the flow. I forget to funky up my bumper. Apologies to the better place I owned: Golden Homes.
My heart goes out to Minties, ironically it is disastrous moments like this one that I need one of your chewy treats the most. I am so, so sorry to the whole team at ‘No Hubba Hubba‘ – overlooking your safe sex anthem has truly reduced me to rubble. To The Cylinder Guy, I actually want to cry. GJ Gardner, LJ Hooker and, of course, justice for Just Juice. My condolences to Perky Nana. I won’t apologise for leaving out “double double, cheese cheese, burger burger, please please” – the clown has had enough attention.