NEW YORK, NY.-
Ginny Redington Dawes, a songwriter whose compositions included memorable advertising jingles such as the chipper McDonalds declaration You, Youre the One and Coca-Colas boast that Coke Is It, died Dec. 31 in the New York City borough of Manhattan. She was 77.
Her companion and only immediate survivor, James McCullar, said the cause was complications of hepatic cirrhosis.
Dawes never became well known herself, but she helped maintain or boost the popularity of the products she promoted. And she insinuated infectious tunes into the nations repertoire that Americans whistled and hummed as much as the songs played on Top 40 radio.
She hooked listeners with melodically and rhythmically catchy jingles that accompanied slogans for everything from Tide detergent to Hartzs tick- and flea-fighting pet collars, Kit Kat candy bars and Johnsons baby powder.
When Ive got a really great lyric, she told Charles Osgood of CBS in a 1977 television interview, I put a very simple melody to it.
Dawes started writing the music and lyrics for commercials in 1975 after the firm of Sidney E. Woloshin who composed the original McDonalds You Deserve a Break Today jingle in 1971 was commissioned to do one for the chains new You, Youre the One advertising campaign.
Woloshin invited about 20 jingle writers to submit proposals. Dawes produced the winning tune. Adopted by the ad agency Needham, Harper & Steers, it was suddenly everywhere.
In 1979, she married a jingle-writing competitor, Thomas Dawes, whose credits included Alka-Seltzers Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz and 7UP, the Uncola.
They later collaborated on the music for, among other campaigns, American Airlines Something Special in the Air and the familiar Coke Is It.
Thomas Dawes died in 2007.
The jingle that underscored Cokes claim to be It, introduced in 1982, was described as a piece of dynamite by John Bergin, worldwide director of the Coke account at the McCann-Erickson agency.
Although David Ogilvy, a founder of the Ogilvy & Mather agency, was credited with the credo If you dont have anything to say, sing it, Bergin argued that the musical accompaniment to the Coke commercial was anything but an afterthought. If soda drinkers paused to parse the ambiguity of what It was, the tune was intended to define the term and embellish it.
Its like a football fight song, Bergin told The New York Times. Usually you get a languid ballad. We were looking for a big, bold sound, and a big, bold statement. This isnt an ipsy-pipsy drink, and the music says that loud and clear.
The song, composed by Dawes and arranged by her husband, was one of 18 jingles and 36 proposed slogans presented to Coca-Cola executives to succeed Have a Coke and a Smile.
The music and copy were tested separately in consumer focus groups and individual interviews until the agency and company reached a consensus that Coke Is It was, indeed, it.
Dawes also wrote pop songs, including Hurtin Song, recorded by Eddy Arnold, and Love Dont Live Here Anymore (written with Rose Marie McCoy), recorded by Sarah Vaughan.
She began her musical career as a singer, to glowing reviews.
When she appeared in 1975 at the Coriander, a restaurant on Manhattans Upper East Side, John S. Wilson of the Times called her a startling performer who sang in a deep, strong, beautifully controlled voice that is filled with vivid colors, as she moves from low, sexy passages to an open, lusty shout.
Virginia Mary Redington was born May 13, 1945, in Brooklyn and raised in the Bay Ridge section of the borough. Her father, Joseph, was a naval architect. Her mother, May (OBrien) Redington, was a teacher.
Virginia attended Fontbonne Hall Academy in Brooklyn and graduated from St. Josephs College, also in Brooklyn, with a degree in English in 1966.
She and Thomas Dawes a founder of folk-pop group The Cyrkle, best known for its 1966 hit single Red Rubber Ball, written by Paul Simon and Bruce Woodley of the Seekers married in 1979 and, merging their talents, formed TwinStar Music to produce jingles
The couple also wrote the book, music and lyrics for The Talk of the Town, a show about the fabled literary roundtable at the Algonquin Hotel, whose members included Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley and George S. Kaufman. First produced in 2004, it ran nearly two years at the Bank Street Theater before it moved as a cabaret show to the Algonquin Hotels Oak Room.
Reviewing the show for Bloomberg News, John Simon wrote that its music and wit matched the infectious energy and sophistication of the real-life luminaries it is based on.
Dawes was also a collector of antique jewelry and the author, with her husband (who took the photographs) and others, of several books on the subject. including The Bakelite Jewelry Book (1988), with Corinne Davidov, and Georgian Jewellery 1714-1830 (2007), with Dawes fellow collector Olivia Collings.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times