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General Motors Holden – Range of Products (c.1958)

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Range of products education content clip 1

This clip chosen to be G

Clip description

In a 1950s suburban street, a woman driving a Holden pulls up to do her Saturday morning shopping. Other GMH cars, including a Vauxhall, Chevrolet and Pontiac, are shown. The woman enters a showroom to look at GMH household and cooking appliances. We see a GMH car dealer and an aerial shot of the factory in Dandenong that produces parts for NASCO (the National Automotive Service Company).

The next section features the work of another GMH subsidiary, IDEC (the Industrial and Domestic Equipment Company). Footage of a train, a quarry works, an oil rig, a timber mill and a fishing trawler accompany the narration which describes the role of GMH in providing the mechanical power 'so vital to the development of the nation’. The ad concludes with a montage of a fridge, a car on the road and a truck.

Curator’s notes

This advertisement positions the GMH brand within the Australian landscape, broadening out from Holden cars. The ad proclaims that 16,000 Australians were selling and servicing GMH products with a further 54,000 Australians helping to produce and distribute them. This clip successfully emphasises GMH’s contribution to supporting the Australian workforce and building a strong national industry. The narrator’s repetition of the word 'Australia’ ('in the homes of Australia, out on the roads of Australia, in the factories of Australia’) is one technique the advertisers use to appeal to the viewer’s sense of patriotism and national pride in all the company is doing for the country. The ad’s scope ranges from the domestic sphere of refrigerators and stoves to the inside of factories, linking GMH with national development projects. GMH consequently carves out a more encompassing section of the Australian market in an assured and deliberate way.

Teacher’s notes

provided by The Le@rning FederationEducation Services Australia

This black-and-white clip shows an advertisement for the wide range of products, vehicles and equipment manufactured by General Motors-Holden’s (GMH) and its subsidiaries. A narration accompanies scenes of GMH cars in a suburban street, GMH domestic appliances, its Dandenong factory producing parts for its subsidiary NASCO (the National Automotive Service Company), the work of its subsidiary IDEC (the Industrial and Domestic Equipment Company), and various industrial activities. The clip concludes with an onscreen ‘GMH’ graphic.

Educational value points

  • This advertisement positions GMH as a dynamic leader within the post-Second World War Australian domestic and industrial landscape by showing its range of products and projects in Australian homes, on Australian roads and in Australian factories. By detailing the company’s involvement in local car manufacture, design of domestic products and, through its subsidiaries, national-scale development projects, it presents the work of GMH as being proudly Australian.
  • The imagery and narration in this clip illustrate the significance of the suburban landscape in post-War Australia and the centrality of the car in this context. GMH products, including the Holden, are shown as being either thoroughly immersed in Australian suburban life or objects of desire in that lifestyle. By the mid-1950s the Holden dominated the domestic market and was firmly established as an Australian icon.
  • The advertisement appeals to Australian women as the chief consumers of household goods in the 1940s and 50s in their role as housewives. Home electrical appliances such as the refrigerators and ovens shown in the clip were first marketed on the promise of making domestic duties easier for the homemaker. While these large appliances embodied the modern values of style and independence, they were still luxury items and not affordable for all families.
  • The advertisement illustrates the clearly delineated gender roles existing in Australian society in the 1950s. Men are shown as drivers of trucks and cars, servicing cars, in the factories, and working with industrial equipment and in remote areas while women are shown driving only if unaccompanied by a man, and shopping for domestic appliances in a suburban streetscape.
  • The opening sequence of the clip shows an example of hand signals used by road motorists in the 1950s. Hand signals were commonly used before cars were fitted with mechanical signalling devices and, later, direction indicator lights. Hand signals are still a legal form of signalling in Australia and can be used if vehicles lack either mechanical signalling devices or indicators, or if a vehicle’s indicators are not visible or functioning.
  • The GMH company, now known as GM Holden Ltd, was originally established as a saddlery and leathergoods business in Adelaide in 1856 by James Alexander Holden (1835–87), evolving into a mass manufacturer of car bodies. In 1931 General Motors-Holden’s was formed when the biggest US car manufacturer, General Motors, bought the company that was by then called Holden’s Motor Body Builders.

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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.

When you access australianscreen you agree that:

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  • You may download materials for your personal use or for non-commercial educational purposes, but you must not publish them elsewhere or redistribute clips in any way.
  • You may embed the clip for non-commercial educational purposes including for use on a school intranet site or a school resource catalogue.
  • 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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