2003: Robbins Diamonds "Robbins Rocks"
on June 19, 2017
  • original music

Marketing professionals distinguish between "image" and "retail" advertising. The former is what advertisers like Target, Coke, and Nike use to elicit an emotional response to their brand, while the latter is commonly used by local companies to convey specific information about their business (such as their location, hours, phone number, and key selling points). Each has its place, though some creative pros shun retail advertising--forgetting, perhaps, that advertising is about generating sales, and that the only measure of a spot that ultimately counts is its effectiveness in that regard.

Barry Magarick has been Philadelphia's king of retail advertising since the 1970s. I met Barry a year or so after I started at Baker Sound, and over the next twenty years we collaborated on music for Diamond Furniture, House of Bargains, Colonial Auto Group, Carpet Mart, and countless others. (Barry even ran an ad for his agency that featured some of these tunes.) But I never imagined that a jingle for local jeweler Robbins Diamonds would become the single most well known piece I'd composed to that point.

I will admit to having felt a bit intimidated at the prospect of writing a jingle for Robbins. I had grown up with their TV ads featuring The Dovells and knew that these were loved by many Philadelphians. But Jerry Robbins was ready for something new, and Barry had sold him on the hook "Robbins Rocks." Barry also asked me to include the phrase "the ultimate diamond experience" and maintain the '50s vibe of Robbins' earlier productions.

I began by creating a bed inspired by Tommy James' "Mony Mony." This dictated the cadence of the lyric, which allowed me to repeat Barry's hook at the end of each phrase. I brought in Jeff Kay to record guitars as usual, and Ron Kerber gave the track some authentic '50s flavor with his idiomatic sax performance. I was happy to call on Denise NeJame for vocals as Barry had requested; but I also wanted to include a male voice, so I asked Paul Jost to double Denise's backing vocals and take the lead on a few lines. The final step was to add Jerry's signature "Yeah!", and after a few warm up takes he delivered one that had plenty of personality.

The jingle aired heavily for the better part of a decade and quickly became my best known work. I shouldn't have been surprised: it's catchy and fun--and that made it effective. An agency producer once suggested that I remove some of the more retail-oriented projects from my website. "You've done some impressive, high-quality ad work," she observed, "why showcase the less artistic stuff?" I thanked her for her advice, but didn't take it. I'm just as proud of my work for retail clients as I am of the artsier image pieces I've composed. My goal is to make my customers happy, and I've done that for a wide range of clients across three decades. I can't think of anything more important to demonstrate.

Chuck Butler is celebrating his 30th anniversary as Baker Sound's in-house composer. For more information about Baker's music division, visit our dedicated MONSTER TRACKS website.