Bushells Tea: The World of the Future (c1941)

Bushells Tea: The World of the Future (c1941)
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This is a colour animated cinema advertisement for Bushells tea from 1941. It reassures viewers that no matter what the future holds, you can rely on Bushells tea to remain the same.

The ad starts with a map of the world and a voice-over that invites the viewer to 'the world of the future’. We see international travel using fast planes, ocean liners and cars.

Aeroplane passengers sit in armchairs drinking tea and we see an airport runway on the top floor of a high-rise building.

A hostess tells the viewer that they always serve Bushells tea on their aeroplanes because Bushells tea means contented passengers.

The advertisement leaves us with the message that though the world may change, Bushells tea will always stay the same.

Summary by Elizabeth Taggart-Speers

This Bushells tea cinema advertisement uses cell animation technique to illustrate the future. Produced during the Second World War, this advertisement assures people that no matter what happens in the future you can always rely on Bushells tea.

The voice-over and format of the advertisement is similar to the Movietone and Cinesound newsreels of the time.

Notes by Elizabeth Taggart-Speers

Education Notes

This clip shows an animated cinema advertisement for Bushells tea, beginning with a map of the world and a voice-over that invites the viewer into ‘the world of the future’, said to be full of ‘happy and modern people’. The clip depicts futuristic cars and international travel by fast aeroplanes and ocean liners. A flight attendant tells the viewer that Bushells tea is always served on flights, and the voice-over explains that this is because ‘Bushells tea means contented passengers’. The advertisement leaves the viewer with the message that although the world may change, Bushells tea will always remain the same. An orchestral score accompanies the clip.

Educational value points

  • Advertisements from earlier periods provide more than just entertainment value; they also serve as a primary source for historians who want to examine what people aspired to in a particular period, in this case the 1940s. Advertising such as this one for Bushells tea provides historical insights into the lives and aspirations of consumers. By analysing the ways in which an advertisement sought to persuade its audience, it is possible to better understand the society of the time.
  • Advertising in the 20th century often aimed to influence consumers through appeals to modernity. The scientific and technological advances following the two world wars led to an unprecedented fascination with science fiction and the possibilities of the future. In an atmosphere of optimism and admiration for speed, a faster pace of life seemed exciting, but ironically, as the pace of life has continued to increase, advertising has switched to supporting people’s desire to slow down or ‘take a break’.
  • Tea is an important part of the diet in countries as diverse as Japan, China, Iran, England, India and Sri Lanka, and the people of each country have developed their own preferred style of tea and their own ceremonies surrounding serving it. The ceremonies, including the Japanese tea ceremony and English-style afternoon tea, sometimes have rituals related to brewing and serving. Nowadays however, most Australians use tea bags rather than brewing a pot of tea.
  • Tea and coffee are always made available on aeroplanes and other forms of long-distance transport as a source of refreshment. The caffeine in tea, although far less than in coffee, acts as a stimulant on the central nervous system. Simply taking a break from another activity or from no activity at all, as is often the case in long-distance air travel, also has a restorative effect. The consumption of these beverages is an important part of the experience of long-haul travel, as portrayed in this advertisement.
  • Bushells is an iconic Australian brand of tea that has been available in Australia since 1883. The tea has come to be linked with Australian values and priorities, including hospitality; a relaxed and friendly culture with an emphasis on enjoying the simple pleasures of life; and the importance of leisure time. The brand is still as popular in the 21st century and the clip suggests the extent of its market penetration in the early 1940s.
  • Advertising memorabilia featuring well-known Australian products such as Bushells tea has become highly sought after for its nostalgic and commercial value. A wide range of Bushells memorabilia, including cups, jars and tins, is available to collectors through the internet, and a ‘Bushells Tea’ mirror, originally used as cafe decor, is included in the collection of Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum. Such items are also prized for the insights they provide into Australian social history.
  • Unilever, the company that produces Bushells tea, is one of the world’s largest and most powerful multinationals, with operations in more than 40 countries. Today it presents itself as clean, green and committed to reducing the kinds of environmental effects created by the lifestyle envisaged in this commercial. The shift from promoting an ever-faster technology-driven utopia to promoting healthy living demonstrates how corporations and their brands change their advertising to appeal to the concerns of the current market.

Education notes provided by The Learning Federation and Education Services Australia