It’s been over 40 years — and I can still sing the lyrics.

The Big Mac commercials featuring the ingredient jingles haven’t run very much since the mid-70s. Yet I can still sing:

Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame seed bun.”

And it’s thanks to these ads:




Not only did these ads plant that song so deep in my brain that it still resonates all these decades later, but writing this article and recalling the lyrics actually gave me the urge to eat McDonald’s for lunch!

Now that’s powerful advertising!

So here are my quick and dirty takeaways from this incredibly successful ad campaign:

1. Schtick and Earworms Are REALLY Important

I’ve posted before about the importance of schtick and earworms and this ad campaign just reinforces that point.

Without the jingle no one would ever recall — or care about — the ingredients of a Big Mac.

Nor would these vintage promotional ads from the 70s still exist in anyone’s memories, let alone be memorialized on YouTube.

2. Schtick Works Better When Viewers Can Make It Their Own

Notice that the ads showcase “regular” people struggling to sing the jingle. This does two things:

  1. It challenges viewers to try it themselves — to prove they can do it better and more easily than the schlubs in the ad
  2. It gives viewers permission to sing the jingle themselves — even if they can’t sing well

This transforms a mere commercial jingle into a pop-culture meme. It allows viewers to make it their own.

I’ve copied this tactic a few times for ad campaigns with my clients, and it always works magic.

Transforming a jingle from a slick, professionally sung thing into a semi-badly sung a cappella (or “unplugged”) version works wonders.

First, the off-singing breaks the expected pattern, smashes through the clutter, and grabs attention for your ad.

But more importantly, it gives listeners permission to sing the jingle badly themselves. Not just in their heads, but out loud if they want.

3. Always Double Down on Schtick That Sticks

After McDonald’s launched the Big Mac jingle and found out that it caught on with kids and customers, they doubled down.

Specifically, they ran a promotion where customers could get a FREE Big Mac if they could successfully sing the jingle to restaurant staff when ordering.

And they also featured people singing the jingle in their ads, as seen in the videos above.

In other words, they found ways to encourage more customers to sing the jingle and to also incorporate the customer response in a sort of feedback loop within their ads.

The saying is that nothing succeeds like success. So when you introduce an advertising schtick that’s a success with the public, it’s always a smart move to showcase that success in your ads.

What About You?

Do your ads have a bit of earworm magic or some sticky schtick?

Are you doubling down on the stuff that sticks?

Have your ads given viewers “mimetic permission”?

Have you made it easy for people to repeat your key messaging?

And if the public is repeating your jingles, earworms, or brandable chunks, are you feeding that back into your ads?

If you are, send me your success stories.

And if you aren’t but would like to, I’d love to help move your advertising to the next level.