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Shell Animated Commercial: Poster Man (1960)


In this animated advertisement for Shell Motor Oil, a cartoon ‘poster man’ comically attempts to secure a Shell poster on the side of a building.

Curator’s notes

In the postwar era in Australia, the motor industry was well and truly established, and this advertisement for Shell Motor Oil would have had a wide audience. It cleverly uses comedy, animation, music and a self-referential style to cement Shell’s iconic brand in the minds of motor users (and cinema goers!).

The Shell Company of Australia has had a long history of using documentaries, educational and trade films and cinema and television advertisements to promote both its interests and its products. While Shell has made several films about Australia’s rich natural resources, it has also created an archive of films supporting the sporting and motoring industries. One of the earliest advertisements which Shell sponsored was for the Hoyts Touring Talking Pictures roadshows in the late 1920s. The roadshows, of course, needed Shell motoring oil to fuel their trucks around the country and deliver talking pictures to the Australian public.

This advertisement was donated to the National Film and Sound Archive by the director, John Heyer. Heyer joined the Australian branch of the Shell Film Unit in 1948 and made a number of documentaries and advertisements for them. Prior to joining the Shell Film Unit, Heyer worked for the Commonwealth Film Unit and subsequently worked for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Heyer directed one of Shell’s most acclaimed documentaries, the 1954 classic The Back of Beyond (1954) about Birdsville Track mailman Tom Kruse.