Nestle’s MILO: Family Album (1948)

Nestle’s MILO: Family Album (1948)
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John and his family are introduced through a real life family album. As the pages are turned, the voice-over tells the story of their lives. The first picture is of John as a young boy, followed by a picture of John and his wife on their wedding day. Their four children – Barbara, Peter, Janet and Ian – are shown and each describes what they do. The youngest, Ian, says he loves ‘football, cricket and MILO’. This reveals them as a ‘real MILO family’. They are shown in their living room drinking cups of MILO which they drink regularly and before bedtime every night.

A product shot is accompanied by voice-over listing MILO’s properties as a ‘fortified tonic food’ infused with vitamins and minerals, along with its chocolate flavoured blend of country milk and malted cereals. 

Summary by Poppy de Souza.

While the product has not changed, the way that MILO has been packaged, branded and marketed certainly has. The product shot at the end of this ad shows a mutely coloured tin with ‘fortified tonic food’ clearly visible. Today MILO advertisements use high profile sporting personalities and are aimed at young people with active lifestyles. Its existence as a ‘fortified tonic’ food has become ‘energy food’ drink in most cases, and the dull packaging has been replaced by the familiar bright green background.

It is interesting to note also that while John and his family are all identified by name, John’s wife and mother of their children remains nameless. This perhaps reflects attitudes of the time towards the family unit where the husband was the head of the household, and the spouse’s identity was as a wife and mother.


Family Album synopsis

This 1948 cinema advertisement for Nestles’ (now Nestlé) MILO shows a ‘real Milo family’ who drink the chocolate flavoured beverage for health, enjoyment, rest and sleep!


Family Album curator's notes

According to Nestlé's MILO website, more MILO is sold each year than the weight of the Sydney Harbour Bridge! MILO is one of Nestlé's most familiar brands and has been a around since the 1930s. Here in Family Album MILO is marketed as a drink that the whole family can enjoy. The chocolate-flavoured powder (or ‘fortified tonic food’ as the packaging says) is a favourite with Ian, the youngest character in the ad, but is also regularly consumed by the adults for its health benefits. For a contrast in emphasis, see Nestlé's MILO advertisement The Joy of Living also from 1948, which is completely different in tone and style.

The print of this cinema advertisement held at the National Film and Sound Archive is part of the Roger McKenzie collection. McKenzie, along with his friend Bernie Kent, built a private collection of films that included cinema advertisements, a large number of newsreel segments, early documentary and actuality footage. McKenzie and Kent worked as technicians in the industry and also made their own home movies. See McKenzie, Roger and Kent, Bernie: Silent Car Trip Australia: Home Movie and McKenzie, Roger and Kent, Bernie: Around Sydney with a Camera.

Notes by Poppy De Souza


Education notes

This clip shows a family photograph album being opened and a narrator introducing the family members inside. The images then come to life and describe themselves. They are John, his wife (unnamed) and their children: Barbara, Peter, Janet and Ian, who says that he likes 'football, cricket and MILO’. The family is shown all together as they enjoy a cup of MILO before bedtime, and John’s wife explains that they also drink it during the day. A tin of MILO is shown and the narrator expands on its health benefits.

Educational value points

  • This advertisement provides insights into family, gender and generational relationships in Australia in 1948. The mother is not named but is defined only in terms of being a wife and mother, and the family album is presented as the father’s family album. All of the family still live at home and seem to spend at least some of the evening together. The eldest daughter works in an office, which she finds 'fun’, but also studies music, while the older son wants to be a doctor.
  • The advertisement can be seen as an argument inside the framework of a story, and the filmmaker uses several techniques to persuade the viewer that MILO is desirable. The newsreel-style narrator gives this advertisement a sense of documentary-style authority, and the family album provides an imaginative structure to capture the audience’s interest and to present MILO as an important part of the family’s life.
  • MILO is a malted chocolate-flavoured drink produced by Nestles (now Nestlé). This advertisement, from 1948, presents MILO as a relaxing and soothing contributor to a stable and comfortable family home life, whereas today MILO is a sponsor of the Australian Institute of Sport and promoted as the 'ever popular energy food drink’ ( However, some continuity is suggested by Ian’s linking MILO with his two sports interests: football and cricket.
  • The clip promotes MILO as a tonic, a 'fortified milk food’ made from 'pure country milk’, which indicates the importance given to milk and concerns about nutrition in 1948. At that time the British Medical Association campaigned in Australia for free milk in schools, a measure designed to improve the protein and calcium intake of children, subsequently taken up by the prime minister and applied nationally from 1951 to 1973.
  • Today, MILO is sold outside Australia in different versions, with different instructions for its preparation according to the distinct habits and tastes of local consumers. For instance, Canadian MILO is more like a local favourite called Quik, and in Ghana it is mixed with water and the use of extra sugar and milk is optional.
  • MILO is named after a legendary ancient Greek athlete and was invented in 1933 by an Australian, Thomas Mayne, at Smithtown (New South Wales). Nestles had been trying to develop a dry chocolate drink product without success until Mayne made use of the newly discovered vacuum shelf-drying technology. The brand was launched at the 1934 Royal Sydney Easter Show.

Education notes provided by The Learning Federation and Education Services Australia