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Brilliant Flashes of Light

Mamy Poco Pants!

May 23, 2009 7:15 AM

Those of you who think doing TV commercial jingle music might not drive you insane... THINK AGAIN!

Several years back, I had a gig doing a TV commercial jingle, here in Japan. The product? Disposable diaper pants! What a shitty gig! Har har har!

But seriously... the commercial opened with 3 moms, all busy changing their baby's diapers, and they're saying: "These diapers suck! Wish we had disposable pants-type diapers for our infants!" Then, POW! ZING! The product appears! Mommies and babies are happy and excited! The commercial ends with the product name: "Mamy Poco Pants!"

And there's the rub. The client was fine with the music that I came up with, straightaway. But the agony had only begun. The quality and tone and personality of the product-name sound bite, THAT was something they just couldn't make up their minds about. Endless meetings, endless emails... "Make it more exciting! Make it more playful! Make it more Japanese sounding! Make it less Japanese sounding! Try singing it! Make it sound like a crowd! Make it... sigh. It was a very particular kind of hell. That grown men in suits would spend that kind of time and psychic energy on such minutiae, that they could have that hard a time deciding on what these three gaddam words should sound like... it was enough to make you want to just drop music and go into the retread tire business. Or start a campaign of genocide against advertising executives.

Anyway, there are 8 versions here, for your listening, um, pleasure. And that ain't all of 'em. There were at least 5 or 6 more, that I haven't included. There's really only so much I could bring myself to subject you good people to.

By the way, my wife (the sound bite vocalist on this magnificent gig) still can't even bear to listen to this, lo these many years later. Some things are just too painful to revisit.

posted by flapjax at midnite (23 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

Wow. I feel your pain, truly.
For a few years I was an assistant editor of TV commercials and it was identical to how you describe it. I would sit for hours with suited Pantene clients showing the "final" cut of the commercial over and over as they fussed and flip-flopped over how the shot of the fucking vitamins penetrating the hair follicle should be 1/10th of a second longer or whatever, change everything around, change it again, and again, only to revert back to my original cut 3 hours later. All while they pigged out on the trays of food that I, being the assistant, had gotten for them. God forbid you had any plans for the evening or weekend; cancelled. I remember having to call friends and cancel on them because I had to stay late to compile reels of "hair acrobatics," going through hours of tape of those slow-motion shots of beautiful, shiny hair falling in different scenarios.
I've said before that working in film and tv killed any desire I had left in me to actually make films, and it's funny that you've posted this because I've recently been thinking of looking into jingle-writing. But now you've frightened me. I'd hate to start hating music, too.
posted by chococat at 2:15 PM on May 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, chococat, it really can be a soul-crushing endeavor, doing jingles. I don't recommend it, personally.

If you do luck out and just get something accepted with minimum fuss and revisions, it can be fine. Happened to me once. Here's a completely different scenario from my own experience, a much happier one:

Back in the 90s, in NYC, I knew a couple of guys who had a very successful jingle business going. Had their own stylishly-appointed loft/studio in SoHo, clients up the wazoo, etc. Every now and then they needed to farm out work, they'd get more than they could handle. Once they asked me to do a piece on spec for a Chevy GEO commercial. They said do anything, but it has to have that snippet of the song "Getting To KnowYou" in it, which was the GEO logo at the time. So, I threw something together in one evening, 4 or 5 hours total I spent on it. The client loved it, I made a few thousand bucks straight off, AND, got residuals thereafter, as long as the ad(s) ran. Aside from the initial fee, I got quarterly checks, mostly for several hundred dollars, for two years straight. All for one evening's efforts. Sweet.

Thing is, that's so much the exception to the rule, it's almost like a dream. I still can't believe it happened.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:20 PM on May 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thanks for posting this. The commentary from you, flapjax and chococat, is really interesting. I never realized those kinds of jobs could be so tough and rigorous.

If you're sensitive at all about your work, it's hard enough posting stuff here let alone having some suits who couldn't find C on a keyboard trash your work day after day.

As far as these jingles go, if my kids were still poopy, I'd go out and get some Poco Pants right NOW!

I really like hearing variations on a theme/concept/song.
posted by snsranch at 5:56 PM on May 23, 2009


Oh, you poor guys! This is Room 101-level material right here. ;-) Thanks for sharing!
posted by danb at 7:18 AM on May 24, 2009


I think that "mamy poco pants" is going to stand as a deep meaning manifold label in my mental vocabulary. Thanks for sharing this piece of work and craft, and the story as well (sometimes it doesn't feel that bad to play the guitar in a lonely room).
posted by nicolin at 6:49 AM on May 25, 2009


Ages ago I posted a couple of the songs I was asked to do for some TV shows in Venezuela. Though these were not proper advertising jingles (they were intro music for programs on different topics at a state TV channel), the situation was similar:

When they first asked me to do the music they said something like "the music must be in the spirit of Latin American unity that was Simon Bolivar's dream. It must sound like something that is distinctly Latin American, but impossible to figure out from what country exactly". I was, of course, delighted.

I was having a lot of fun using instruments from many parts and trying to come up with ways to combine styles from all around the region, but when I delivered a couple of songs they complained that they sounded "too Cuban, too broadly Latin American and not Venezuelan enough". I thought that was the idea, I said. It was, but not anymore, they said and from there it just got progressively crazier, with way too many people giving to many contradictory opinions. In the end I told them what was going on was completely different to what they said they wanted in the beginning and that I wasn't interested anymore. That magically settled it, they stopped arguing and chose three out of five songs that I gave them. One of the songs was used on a program on land issues programs was an hour long program on land issues and one of the producers told me she had seen some farmers at a rally whistling the tune in the street. Which I'll never know if she only said it to make me feel good or if she actually did see them, but it's a nice memory I keep from the whole thing.

Your jingle here is brilliant, flapjax. What on earth did you do that jiggly sound with?
posted by micayetoca at 7:31 AM on May 25, 2009


What on earth did you do that jiggly sound with?

You know, mica, I don't remember exactly... it was some kind of sample, I think, but I just can't recall what. Maybe sampled rubber squeezy toys.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:50 AM on May 25, 2009


So, which one did they go with?
posted by speicus at 10:21 AM on May 25, 2009


Haha! I don't know! I mean, they told us, I think, but I don't remember which one...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:14 PM on May 25, 2009


Maybe it was just reading the story first that did it to me, but as I continued to listen as the music wound on I could hear more impatience and frustration in the voiceover.

'Mamy Poco Pants! godsdammit!'
posted by winna at 8:54 PM on May 25, 2009 [4 favorites]


This thread is awesome... take solace that your misery has caused me so much joy, flapjax. Because I'd actually like to hear the other five or six versions. Each time I hear it, it's like I'm transported inside a super-condensed video game that I don't understand, and each level is slightly different! MAMY POCO PANTS!!!
posted by not_on_display at 9:57 PM on May 28, 2009


Oh, and your jingle kicks the ass of the one on their current website. [Warning: looping loud sound -- scroll down for video, in which volume control is embedded]
posted by not_on_display at 10:06 PM on May 28, 2009


God, I love MetaFilter... here someone goes and links to the current Mamy frikkin' Poco gaddam Pants site! Fantastic!

And you're right, n_o_d, that jingle they've got looping there really bites.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:27 AM on May 29, 2009


:-)) well past mental - quite splendid.
posted by MajorDundee at 2:40 PM on May 29, 2009


Flapjax - you might think this is crazy (of course it is - what else would you expect from The Major), but a combination of your fab vocals with "Too Blue" by Zebra Productions might just produce something really interesting.... Naturally, I'm suggesting this in my fantasy role as the pop svengali behind MiFi Records "The Sound of Middle-Aged Trans-Pacific-Atlantia" - think Daniel Lanois with a Pink Afro wig, a harem of foxy...er..."chicks", and giant spliff, and you're getting somewhere close. On second thoughts - don't go there man...
posted by MajorDundee at 3:28 PM on May 29, 2009


New MetaFilter Podcast theme.
posted by chrismear at 3:50 PM on May 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


New MetaFilter Podcast theme.

hee hee!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:26 PM on May 29, 2009


oh lordie
posted by goshling at 2:20 AM on May 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is mixing in my brain with the Mr. Sparkle bit from The Simpsons. It's a scary mashup.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:58 AM on May 31, 2009


This is amazing.
posted by ageispolis at 11:48 PM on May 31, 2009


I laughed so hard I thought I was having a psychotic episode. MeFi Music needs to do some awesome Elements Of Style breakdown of Mamy Poco Pants. Haunting minor key synth Mamy Poco Pants? Blistering rap battle Mamy Poco Pants? I envision Mamy Poco Pants quietly Agent Smithing its way through all musical output.

Oh dear. I need a lie down.
posted by RokkitNite at 5:15 PM on June 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


A MPP challenge. Brilliant.

This is hilarious in this context, but terrifying that you and your wife had to go through such an ordeal. I'm sure mixing all of those brought you to the brink.
posted by umbĂș at 5:52 PM on June 1, 2009


This is hilarious in this context, but terrifying that you and your wife had to go through such an ordeal.

Indeed! It's the classic "we can laugh about it now, but..."
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:00 PM on June 1, 2009


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