What are you stuck on?

The bow-tied apple-bobbing boy at 0:24 is “stuck on Band-Aid.”

The super-cheery firefighter at the beginning is “stuck on Band-Aid brand.”

The former is how I remember the jingle (which, apparently, was written by Barry Manilow) from the commercials of my 1970’s youth.  “I am stuck on Band-Aid, ’cause Band-Aid’s stuck on me.”  But already by 1980, the Marketing folks at Johnson & Johnson realized their brand was so successful, it had become a generic, and they tried to push back by reminding you that it’s a “Band-Aid brand” adhesive bandage.

Of course, this screws with the meter of the jingle.  But they weren’t about to throw away a tune that had so thoroughly infiltrated the nation’s collective mental playlist, so they simply shoehorned the extra word in there.  As a result, it sounds rushed — it sounds like an afterthought, because that’s what it is.

But the brand identity people don’t care. They would rather break the jingle than erode their brand.

I don’t know why this bugs me, but it always has. It offends my sensibilities. It reinforces my prejudice that Marketing people have no souls. (Disclaimer: I have friends in Marketing. I’m quite sure they have souls. At least, when they’re at home they do.)

I just can’t stop noticing it.

  • Jell-O’s jingle said “Make Jell-O gelatin and make some fun.” Just like J&J did, Kraft crammed the word “brand” in there (“Make Jell-O brand gelatin”) with no regard for the meter.
  • I used to have a Lego idea book containing a note to parents, which politely requested that we refer to their product as “Lego bricks or toys” rather than simply “Legos.”  Cory Doctorow called attention to this just a few years ago,  though I disagree with his characterization of it as “vicious.”  Anyway, for my brother and I, the phrase “Lego bricks or toys” has served for 30 years as a shortcut phrase for this sort of uphill battle lawyers and marketers try to wage against common usage.
  • An early ad for Vaseline Intensive Care said the product “lets the healing begin.” They later replaced it with “smooths the healing right in.” I suspect this call came from Legal (a department rivaling Marketing in soullessness): the first iteration was arguably making a testable claim, and they had to replace it with something more vague.