Aeroplane Pure Fruit Jellies: Bertie the Jet (1954)

Aeroplane Pure Fruit Jellies: Bertie the Jet (1954)
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This animated cinema advertisement for Aeroplane Pure Fruit Jellies shows Bertie the Jet taking part in a popularity air race around Australia. The secret to his energy and stamina is Aeroplane Jelly.

The 'Popularity Cup’ air race is contested between planes from all around the world, including the crowd favourite from Australia – Bertie the Jet. Broadcaster Ken Howard calls the race from his elevated podium. As the race begins, Bertie is left at the post, unaware the others have taken off. However, after a slow start, he breaks the sound barrier, flies past the Three Sisters and under the Sydney Harbour Bridge to cross the finish line in first place.

Little Bertie explains to the broadcaster and the crowd that he has energy and stamina because he ‘always eats Aeroplane Jelly’. As the crowd cheers Bertie, he bursts into song. The next shot shows a table display of jelly-based desserts as the voice-over explains that Aeroplane Jelly sells over ten million packets annually.

Summary by Poppy De Souza

Aeroplane Jelly had been around for over 30 years at the time this advertisement was made. As in Bertie the Aeroplane, made in 1942, this advertisement runs for over two minutes. This provides scope for the audience to identify with Bertie and his adventures. The colourful animation, the anthropomorphising of Bertie, and the jingleI love Aeroplane Jelly’ aims to both entertain children and appeal to housewives wanting to make a range of colourful desserts.

Bert Appleroth, the founder of the Aeroplane Jelly Company, was a big aviation fan. In the late 1920s aeroplanes were considered very new and high-tech and Bert decided to call his product Aeroplane Jelly. One of the lyrics in the Aeroplane Jelly jingle says ‘the quality’s high as the name would imply’. The jingle was recorded in 1938, and sung by seven-year-old Joy King, who had won a talent quest to record the official version of the song. This recording is still used today (see Aeroplane Jelly Song, 1938).

The film negatives were deposited with the National Film and Sound Archive by Eric Porter Productions, the company that produced this advertisement. Eric Porter Studios was run by animator and director Eric Porter who had drawn little Bertie the Aeroplane in the 1942 cinema advertisement Bertie the Aeroplane. In 1972, Porter produced and directed Australia’s first animated feature film, Marco Polo Junior Versus the Red Dragon.

Notes by Poppy De Souza

Education Notes

This clip shows an animated cinema advertisement for Aeroplane Jelly featuring the cartoon character Bertie the Jet. Bertie competes in an international jet aeroplane race, the 'Popularity Cup’ and although he misses the start of the race he wins in the end. Bertie then sings the famous Aeroplane Jelly song to the jubilant crowd. The clip concludes with photographs of jelly desserts while the narrator outlines the benefits of the product.

Educational value points

  • This advertisement follows a conventional narrative sequence of orientation, complication and resolution. The scene is set by then well-known Sydney horserace caller Ken Howard and the character of Bertie is established as he smiles and preens himself before the applauding crowd. The complication arises when Bertie, distracted by the acclaim, misses the start of the race. Resolution occurs when he soars through the sky and emerges the winner.
  • The advertisement appealed to children by telling a story and including a catchy signature tune. Children were able to identify with the character of Bertie, a plane with a child’s voice, big eyes and broad smile. The song, with its simple catchy tune and lyrics sung by a 5-year-old, appealed to children and was designed to have them urge their parents to buy the product.
  • The advertisement was targeted at women by emphasising the economy, health and sophistication of the product. The photographs show elaborate jelly desserts suggesting this is not only a food for children but also for entertaining guests. That 'each packet is enough for six people’ indicates its economy and that it contains glucose suggests its health benefits.
  • Aeroplane Jelly ran a massive advertising campaign from the 1930s to the 1950s, a time when long-running and widespread advertising was rare. Radio, newspaper, magazine or outdoor advertisements were the usual media for product promotion during that time and the company also pioneered the technique called 'roadblocking’, which entailed purchasing all available advertising time on radio and later television stations over a given period.
  • Bert Appleroth (1886–1952), the creator of Aeroplane Jelly, embraced the development of aviation and communications technology, naming his product Aeroplane Jelly and changing Bertie the Aeroplane of the 1940s into a jet in the 1950s. Originally a tram conductor, Appleroth distributed the jelly crystals to businesses along his tram route, and later extended his advertising campaign to chartering a Tiger Moth plane decorated with his product’s logo.
  • The song 'I like Aeroplane Jelly’ featured in the clip has acquired iconic status and is known throughout Australia, even though the product and jingle were not launched outside New South Wales until 1977. In the 1940s the jingle was played on Sydney radio stations 100 times a day. The song, composed in 1930 by Albert Lenertz (1891–1943), was to become the longest running advertising jingle in Australian history.
  • An advertising 'jingle’ is used as a key trigger to attract an audience’s attention and to sell the product, the belief being that a tune that can be hummed or sung will stay in the mind more readily than the spoken word. A jingle combines music and lyrics that portray a feeling and supply information on the product to create a mini-song. Although the jingle becomes the background to the voice-over in this clip, by 1954 the song was already widely known.

Education notes provided by The Learning Federation and Education Services Australia

Production Company:
Eric Porter Productions