NO LOVE FOR
THE JINGLE FROM HELL
I was driving, the radio was on, and my wife was in the
passenger seat. Since we have wildly different tastes in music and can
never agree on a music station, we were listening to KCBS, the all-news
When the newscaster cut to the inevitable commercial, though,
it was one of the rare times we both agreed on the musical quality of a
"1-877-KARS-4-KIDS," sang the little cretin with
the cute little voice that should be exiled to a place far, far away.
"1-877-KARS-4-KIDS, donate your car today!"
"NOOOOOO!!!" my wife and I screamed in unison as we
both lunged for the radio at the same time. She was trying to lower the
volume while I went right for the channel selector, so we didn't collide.
But the damage was done. We'd be hearing that incredibly annoying jingle
in our heads for hours to come.
If you haven't heard the jingle, consider yourself one of the
luckier people on Earth. It's been around since 1999, unchanged, and is
now in 14 markets nationwide and reaches 50 million listeners daily. The
little kid who sings it is reportedly now about 26 years old. I've read
that he can't be identified because he's received death threats.
"Who would donate their car to this organization?"
I asked my wife once my teeth stopped aching . "They not only can't
spell 'cars,' but there are too many numbers in their obnoxious jingle.
877-KARS-4-KIDS is 12 numbers. Phones have 10 numbers. Who are these
She was still trying to calm down from the rush to quiet the
radio. "I hate to say this, but I think I'd rather drive my car off a
cliff than give it to them. Is that bad?"
"Probably, but I understand," I replied. "Let's call them
and find out."
We dialed the 12 numbers (which don't make a
difference---only the first 10 register) on the car speakerphone and were
immediately greeted with a directory. We pushed the number 4 for more
information and were greeted by the jingle as we were put on hold.
"NOOOOOOO!" we screamed in unison. But before we
could hang up, a nice woman came on the line.
"Would you like to donate your car?" she pleasantly asked.
"We can have a towing company pick it up within 24 hours and we'll
also give you a 2-night voucher at a hotel in one of 50 locations in the
"Do you like your jingle," I asked, interrupting
"Well, I don't have to listen to it on hold," she
responded. "And there's a lot of worse things in the world, like
heavy metal bands."
After she told us they'd accept anything with an engine
(lawnmowers, Ski-doos, etc.) we lied and said we'd consider donating, and
then hung up.
"Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is," sang my
wife, recalling the old Alka-Seltzer commercial.
"Hold the pickle, hold the lettuce, special orders don't
upset us," I answered in my best sing-song voice, which is terrible,
but she still correctly guessed Burger King.
"Like a good neighbor--State Farm is there."
There was only one response for that: "Nationwide is on
This went on for a few more, until I came up with "Every
kiss begins with Kay," which disgusted her almost as much as the
KARS-4-KIDS jingle, and the competition was over.
But the point was made. If you remember the jingle, they're
effective, good or bad. And that's why the ear-piercing, teeth shattering,
mind-numbing KARS-4-KIDS travesty has produced about $25 million in
vehicle donations every year. Inconceivable, but true.
Exactly where does the money go? I did some research in my
role as intrepid reporter, and fortunately don't have the space to go into
details. Let's just say the jingle isn't the only questionable aspect of
the organization. Many claims, many settlements, many investigations.
Hopefully, that miserable little kid singing the song didn't know what he
was getting into.
There's only one reason they flourish---that obnoxious jingle
(along with a multi-multi-million advertising budget). And there's only
one way to stop it.
Yes, I'm embarking on a national campaign to rid the airwaves
of the KARS-4-KIDS commercial. I will petition radio stations not to run
it, and I will be successful.
But first I have to raise money for my campaign. As soon as I
come up with an obnoxious jingle, I'll be on my way.