General Motors Holden: On a Tour of Australia’s Banana Plantations

General Motors Holden: On a Tour of Australia’s Banana Plantations
General Motors Holden
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A couple drives through banana country on the coastal border of Queensland and New South Wales. Their car pulls up at a banana plantation where they alight and meet with the owner. A voice-over explains the growing and harvesting process. A plastic bag covers a large bunch of bananas, and the plantation owner cuts down the tree to harvest the bunch as the couple watch. The bananas are then secured to a wire flying fox and travel by wire to the packing shed. A row of packers strip off the individual fruit and put them into boxes. The couple stand in front of their Holden in the background. The tour ends with the Holden travelling through the country gravel roads as the voice-over reiterates Holden’s economy, dependability and suitability to Australia’s roads and family needs. The narration concludes with the slogan 'Holden, Australia’s own car’.

The automotive industry in postwar Australia was rapidly growing with car ownership becoming a common feature of the 1950s suburban Australian household. At first look this advertisement appears to be a sponsored film for the banana industry in Queensland which, by association, promotes the Holden brand. The Holden-owning couple featured in these advertisements may initially seem the backdrop to the travelogue in which they feature but, on closer inspection, their presence is key. Private companies and large corporations have used the sponsored film with great success over the years (see some of the Shell Company of Australia’s early collaborations on this website). In these films, the link between the sponsor and the featured industry is not always direct.

Recreational travel by road meant covering long distances and encountering unsealed or gravel roads. The couple represent the prospective Holden owner by testing the car in regional conditions. Holden’s reliability, dependability and economy are attested to by the fact that they are able to tour Australia in a Holden car with ease, comfort and style. By placing the Holden within a range of Australian landscapes, GMH broadened its appeal.

Earlier advertisements were confined to suburban and urban contexts with an emphasis on the technological and engineering developments which took place in GMH factories across the country. This series of travelogue-style advertisements took the car out of the showroom (see Holden Car Cinema Advertisement: A New Star, the New Holden FE, 1953) and factory onto Australia’s regional landscape. In many ways, these suites of 'on a tour’ cinema ads complement the terrain covered by the Holden utility, first released in 1951. Both expanded the Holden’s reach to extend beyond the sealed roads of the suburban metropolis.