Advertising Veteran Richard D. Trentlage Dies at 87; Famous Jingle Lives On

By Erik Oster 

Richard D. Trentlage, the man who composed the famous Oscar Mayer wiener jingle, died of congestive heart failure, at the age of 87, on September 21, The New York Times reports.

Trentlage worked at several top agencies including McCann and D’Arcy before launching his own jingle-writing firm.

His most famous contribution to advertising was the Oscar Mayer jingle which ran for 52 years, beginning in 1963, a feat his family claims, in an online obituary, is a record.  The jingle, Trentlage recalled in a 2012 interview with The Wisconsin State Journal, was a last minute effort. Trentlage wrote it in September of 1962 after hearing about Oscar Mayer’s jingle contest from a colleague at JWT the day before the deadline. Its opening line was inspired by his son’s declaration, “I wish I could be a dirt bike hot dog” (about a dirt bike-riding friend). Trentlage finished composing the tune in about an hour and recorded it in his living room recording studio, playing banjo-ukelele while his daughter Linda, then nine-years-old, belted out the vocals.

Chairman Oscar G. Mayer Sr. selected the jingle as the winner of the contest and from its humble origins in Trentlage’s living room it went on to be heard in 21 English-speaking countries (including all 50 states) and become a pop culture icon. The Simpsons even payed tribute to the jingle when it was sung by Jon Lovitz‘s Jay Sherman character in a crossover with The Critic.

Some of Trentlage’s other well-known jingles include “Wow! It sure doesn’t taste like tomato juice” for V8, “McDonald’s is your kind of place!” and “Buckle up for safety, buckle up!” (a 1964 National Safety Council PSA).

Trentlage is survived by his wife, Jacqueline, daughters Linda Bruun and Becky Trentlage, sons David and Tom, stepdaughters Susan Jennings and Patricia Kelley, stepson Jeffrey Davis, 19 grandchildren and ten great grandchildren.

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