Even though we can fast forward through commercials now, we all still occasionally hear an advertising jingle and wonder how on earth something like that could have happened. I will now take you: Behind the jingles.

Liberty Mutual
A trashed studio.
Exhausted, sobbing musicians.
The writer has locked himself in the bathroom.
A middle-manager screams, “Fine. Fine! You know what? I’m going to write it. ‘Liberty Liberty Liberty. Liberty.’ There! Fuck all of you.”


Kars 4 Kids
The Kars 4 Kids CEO sobs, curled up on his side on his office floor, his expensive suit torn and stained. “Ok, ok, I’ve done everything you said. I’ve given you everything. Please, just leave. Just stop. Please.”
Rattlesnake Rick kneels down next to him, chuckling as the larger man winces away. “One more thing,” he hisses. “One more thing to make sure you remember. Make sure you think before you disrespect a hard-working man like myself.”
“I will. I swear I will.” The CEO whimpers.
Rattlesnake smiles around the Marlboro Light hanging off his lip. “We’re going to write a jingle for your little company here. It’s going to be the worst jingle anyone’s ever heard, and you’re going to make sure it plays on the radio forever. We go three weeks without hearing it, and we’ll be back. And next time,” Rattlesnake pauses to slowly, carefully put his cigarette out on the carpet, a half inch from the CEO’s face. “Next time, we won’t be so friendly.”


O’Reilly Auto Parts
The two men, one tearfully grateful, one smilingly benevolent, shake hands. The smiling man turns to leave, then remembers. “Oh, one more thing, a personal favor.”
The man at the desk grins. “You saved our business, Joe. You get as many favors as you want.”
“It’s my son. He’s a bit of a disappointment, but a good kid deep down. He’s decided that what he really wants to do is write songs for commercials. I don’t know, he thinks he’d be good at it. What do you say, will you let him write yours? Get his mother off my back for a while?”


Chili’s; Baby Back Ribs
I had some good ideas for this one but then I happened upon a video of it being made and the guys looked like they were having lots of fun and then I heard that the guy who wrote it had a whole barbecue-themed funeral and honestly I don’t even hate the jingle anymore. I don’t want to hear it, but I don’t hate it.


Meow Mix
He stands in front of the advertising department, looking more like Demosthenes calling the ancient Athenians to war than a manager on his first day. His tie is loosened, his face sweaty, but the gleam from his eyes could light the whole world. “So are you with me people? Do you believe, like I do, that we can make a commercial that changes everything? A jingle that redefines what ‘jingle’ even means?”
His subordinates, no longer the apathetic zombies they were an hour ago, cheer their assent.
“Good.” The man’s face becomes serious, and somehow each person feels he’s looking them directly in the eye. “Good. Because it’s not going to be easy, but I believe in you. I believe in us. And I’ve got two words for you.” He pauses, and the Earth stands still. Then he speaks and changes everything. “Trained. Cats.”


Kit-Kat Bar
The advertising exec steps carefully through the flop house, not making eye contact with anyone, promising himself he’ll burn his expensive suit as soon as he leaves. He reaches the mattress he’s looking for, though he barely recognizes the unshaven man collapsed on it. “Peterson,” the ad exec barks. “Peterson this is getting ridiculous! The clients are going to be here tomorrow, and they’re expecting gold.”
Peterson looks at him through half-closed lids. “Go away. I can’t do it. I’ve lost the magic. I live here now.”
The ad exec suppresses the urge to scream. “Come on Peterson. You haven’t lost any magic. And stop with the act. You’re not on drugs.”
Peterson glares. “Yet. I might be later. You don’t know.”
The ad exec rolls his eyes. “Give me a break.”
Suddenly Peterson is alert, awake. He sits up, staring at the exec with a strange look on his face. “Wait. Say that again.”


Free Credit
The old man stares out the window, his back to his manservant. “I hate them all, James. I really do.”
“I know sir.”
“I don’t even care about selling a product. It can be for anything. I just want them to suffer, every time they watch TV or listen to the radio.”
“Yes sir.”


JG Wentworth; 877 cash now
The owner of the advertising company is quietly breaking pencils just out of view of the camera. Her staff has mostly left the room at this point, too frustrated to sit still any longer. “Okay,” she says through gritted teeth. “So those were our final five ideas. You don’t like any of them. Can you explain why?”
The man on the monitor shrugs. “I dunno, you know? I just don’t think it’s clear enough that we provide a service for people who have this specific kind of settlement, and need money –not a check or anything, actual money — right at this very moment, and they should call a particular number. I just think that needs to be more clear.”


Subway; Five-dollar footlong
The Handler slams his fist on his desk. “I’ve got people on the ground in there!” he yells. “And you’re telling me we can’t get even a warning to them?”
Maury shakes his head. “I understand how you feel, Jim. But all our routes are closed. Any communication would be a death sentence.”
“No. I do not accept this.” The Handler begins to pace. “All we have to do is get a few key phrases through to them. Just a few codewords will them know the job is blown. I don’t care how we do it. Go on a talk show, hire a sky writer– Wait a minute. Wait. A. Minute.” He smiles, and Maury sighs in relief. He knows that smile.
The Handler presses a button on his desk. “Janet, you’ve got a sister-in-law in advertising, right? Can you get her to come in?”


Charmin; My heinie’s clean
Satan is real.





Author: Sarah McKinley Oakes

Sarah McKinley Oakes is an L.A.-area writer, nanny, and library clerk. Her other website is, where she writes up old restaurants but barely mentions the food. To contact Sarah, email her at, or DM the Hatpin Slayer Facebook page

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