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Educational Value Statement: Advertising Australia

'Advertising Australia' is a collection of Australian advertisements that shows various advertising techniques and features the work of some of our best known advertising agencies and designers. Organised chronologically from the 1870s until 1954 the advertisements clearly reflect the changing nature of Australian society. A number of iconic Australian products are represented.

  • 'Advertising Australia' shows some of the techniques used to convince consumers to buy goods, such as suggestions that life will become more pleasurable and convenient, that customers will have good health, and that the user will be joining a 'modern' or 'fashionable' group or be seen as a 'good' parent. Some advertisements associate products with an idealised Australian way of life through images of the beach, sun and outdoor leisure activities.
  • The collection shows the evolution of advertising messages between the 1870s and 1954, as the industry responded to altered patterns of consumption, changing values and world events. The post-Second World War advertisements use glamour and romance to appeal to consumers affected by loss, fear and rationing. The advertisements for Swallow and Ariell or Bakeo pastry, acceptable at the time, would be seen as inappropriate depictions of women and girls today.
  • During the 20th century advertisers increasingly recognised the importance of visual images in attracting the attention of consumers. Advertisements in the 1920s and 30s, for example, were characterised by bright colours and bold lines, reflecting trends in modern art. Some advertisements in the trail are highly artistic in their composition, notably Wolfgang Sievers's beautifully constructed shots promoting fashion and food.
  • Some advertisements use language to make strong claims that may have been exaggerated or unfounded. In one of the advertisements a Rugby League player is quoted as having said: 'I've never felt better in my life since I commenced a course of Tooth's Sheaf Stout'. In another advertisement ice-cream is called 'The Health Food of a Nation'.
  • Advertisers target consumers according to their perceived interests. In the picture trail, many of the advertisements assume that women are interested in housework, glamour and beauty. By contrast, men are seen driving cars and striding out to the cricket. An early advertisement aimed at parents and children includes a detailed toy catalogue.
  • Advertisements were placed in a variety of locations to ensure wide access to consumers. They appeared in print media, theatres and department-store mail-order catalogues, and on posters, buildings and vehicles. In this trail, one advertisement is even attached to an elephant. An elaborate 1947 tea display in a store window is typical of the advertising used in shops at the time.

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