In November 1991, the first PC World shop opened on the Purley Way, Croydon. Industrially large and probably the first store to sell computers on trollies, it was quite revolutionary.
We were approached to do their first TV and radio advertising campaign.
I was working with the legendary Chris Sandford as composer at Hobo Productions in sunny Soho, London. The call came through for me to write a jingle using the lyrics:” Where in the World? PC World.”
I really didn’t think anything of it; another rather corporate brief and a jolly tune to accompany the launch of a new product. Pretty straightforward, so I set in the deadline of probably a couple of hours, started the rhythm track for a strict thirty second music bed, and noodled away.
We recorded the first commercial a little while later using some absolutely incredible and notable singers including Carl Wayne, Stephanie de Sykes,
Miriam Stockley, Tim Whitnall and Bob Saker. Indeed, no expense spared in those days of live and energetic vocal sessions even if the call was 9.am and much coughing and clearing of throats ensued.
As with most things, it was always a joy and thrill to hear your work on the airways. I think I may well have been in an actual PC World store when I heard the first one go out. I mentioned it at the time to one of the sale’s representatives. “I wrote that!” I said proudly pointing at the speakers. “I suppose a computer’s out of the question?”
It was always a marvellous moment and to be paid to boot. What could be more fun?
I think we were all surprised that this little jingle kept on giving. Various styles, reincarnations, versions, voice overs, and moods were thrown at the brand and we dutifully went into the studio and rerecorded each and every different version every month as if it were the first.
Twenty years later PC World, or Curry’s who had bought the original brand early on, finally felt they’d had enough of my catchy, annoying but effective shout out and recommissioned a new unforgettable mnemonic that said nothing and sounded distinctly uninspired.
It had owned the copyright to a product that kept giving out royalties for a total of twenty years. Never a huge amount and often in pence rather than pounds, but give out it did.
I remember being asked for an interview on the Adrian Child show on BBC Radio 5 live that was featuring ‘The most annoying jingles ever written” I was with Wynne Evans, that lovely opera singer who was and still is the voice of ‘Go Compare’, and another candidate for that prestigious jingle award.
But all they wanted to ask me was:” How much did you earn from PC World?” Needless to say, I didn’t have the spreadsheet to hand, but over twenty years it was very much worth doing.
Similar to what we get from streaming presently, the individual amounts were insignificant and, at times, so small as to be insulting. But if you can write a smash or a long-lifer, you could very easily expect your royalties to keep on giving for twenty years and possibly more.
Of course, I was sad when they changed my jingle for another one, especially when the new one was nowhere near as good and not in any way memorable. But the rewards had been good and over the period of time had allowed me to pay my gas bill.
Don’t give up! Don’t be frustrated at the small amounts received. Play the long game and write something that will last and give you prolonged returns.
Sadly, this system is here to stay so work with it rather than complain or try to fight it.
We didn’t know at the time when I sat down to write the first corporate tune, but many years later, I can genuinely say: ‘Thank you PC World’.
We would often sing:” Where in the World?” In My Bank!”.
Here’s wishing you the perfect money jingle.