Australian Screen

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General Motors Holden – Football, Meat Pies, Kangaroos and Holden Cars (c.1976)

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'What’s your favourite car, Australia?' education content clip 1

Original classification rating: G. This clip chosen to be G

Clip description

The ad features a montage of Australian outdoor scenes including the beach, sporting events (yachting, golf, cricket and football), the Australian flag and native fauna. These are intercut with 1970s Holden models. The advertisement employs a jingle sung by a chanting crowd ('we love football, meat pies, kangaroos and Holden cars’) and the voice-over is spoken by Ken Sparkes.

Curator’s notes

This memorable advertising jingle from the 1970s was adapted from the American Chevrolet campaign, 'baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet’. To match the Australian lyrics, the advertisement features Australian cultural icons (the kangaroo, koala and meat pie) in a montage of quick shots. Although many of the icons flash by quickly, shots of Holdens driving and parked in a variety of locations are held longer so that, even without the explanatory jingle and voice-over, the images make clear that this is an ad for cars and not an Australian tourism campaign.

In addition, the ad depicts a laid-back and fun-loving Australia and the jingle aims to appeal to the audience’s sense of patriotism. If you don’t love football, meat pies, kangaroos and Holden cars, you’re not truly Australian. Although targeting the mainstream, the ad actually describes one specific social sector and does not reflect the diversity of the nation at the time. Holden’s association with white working class Australia is particularly strong in ads like this featuring models such as the Kingswood, the Torana and the Monaro.

Teacher’s notes

provided by The Le@rning FederationEducation Services Australia

This clip shows a television advertisement from about 1976 for General Motors-Holden’s cars. It includes a montage of Australian icons such as the beach, the Australian flag, meat pies, koalas, kangaroos and Australian Rules football. These images are intercut with footage of people driving 1970s Holden cars including the Kingswood, Torana and Monaro models in a variety of typical Australian rural and urban locations. The upbeat music underscores a repetitive call-and-response jingle led by voice-artist Ken Sparkes.

Educational value points

  • The advertisement is designed to appeal to a sense of patriotism by equating traditional and contemporary Australian cultural icons with the Holden, ‘Australia’s own car’. The rapid montage of images and the repetitive upbeat narration are constructed to evoke a positive emotional response allied with the sense of identifying as a ‘true blue’ Australian as represented by the familiar and everyday subjects shown.
  • The clip includes features of the ‘ocker’ genre of advertising introduced in Australia in the 1970s. The pride in a new Australian nationalism promoted by prime minister Gough Whitlam (in office 1972–75) was evident in the cultural domain and popularised in film and art as a reaction to the ‘cultural cringe’, and was also taken up by the advertising industry. Advertisements following this trend used vernacular Australianisms and self-deprecatory larrikinism to promote Australian products.
  • The advertisement presents an image of a white working-class Australia. However, the footage belies the actual cultural diversity of Australia in the mid-1970s. Large numbers of people from southern Europe had been immigrating since the end of the Second World War, and in the 1970s immigration from Asian countries was increasing. The White Australia policy that had restricted non-European migration was abolished in 1973.
  • This advertisement uses a montage of quick repetitive shots to punctuate the accompanying jingle and build a visual collage of stereotypical Australian characters and landscape. Images are edited to the rhythm of the call-and-response jingle to create a sense of liveliness and to associate Holden with fun. ‘Montage’ is French for ‘assembly’ or ‘putting together’ and refers to the way an editor constructs a film, carefully selecting shots to create effects through juxtaposition.
  • This advertisement was adapted from a US advertising campaign for the General Motors brand Chevrolet that used baseball, hot dogs and apple pie to appeal to the US audience’s national pride. The Holden campaign successfully localised the icons for an Australian audience to strike a patriotic chord. Consequently, ‘football, meat pies, kangaroos and Holden cars’ has become one of the most memorable catchcries in Australian television advertising.
  • Australian advertising agency George Patterson Pty Ltd (now George Patterson Y and R), the agency that handled all General Motors-Holden’s campaigns from 1948 to the 1980s, played an important role in establishing the Holden car in the national lexicon. George Patterson (1890–1968) began in newspaper and radio advertising and in 1934 formed George Patterson Pty Ltd, attracting many high-profile clients including Colgate-Palmolive and Gillette.

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australianscreen is produced by the National Film and Sound Archive. By using the website you agree to comply with the terms and conditions described elsewhere on this site. The NFSA may amend the 'Conditions of Use’ from time to time without notice.

All materials on the site, including but not limited to text, video clips, audio clips, designs, logos, illustrations and still images, are protected by the Copyright Laws of Australia and international conventions.

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  • The National Film and Sound Archive’s permission must be sought to amend any information in the materials, unless otherwise stated in notices throughout the Site.

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