Nestlé’s MILO: The Joy of Living (1948)

Nestlé’s MILO: The Joy of Living (1948)
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This cinema advertisement for MILO shows how to get a good night’s rest and plenty of energy for the morning – just drink a cup of MILO before bedtime!

To be bright and full of energy in the mornings, it is crucial to get a good night’s rest.

A man who has a heavy dinner, reads horror books and tosses and turns all night is the perfect illustration of ‘how not to enjoy a good night’s rest’.

At the chemist where a woman buys a tin of MILO, she is told to follow the ‘golden rules for sleeping well’. These are taking your mind off things by reading a little, having a light supper, and drinking a cup of MILO before bed, which ‘soothes the body and nerve’. She has a full night’s rest.

The voice-over saying that MILO ‘helps build up reserves of energy’ accompanies images of an ice skater. Children are shown who love MILO because it is a delicious chocolate flavoured drink.

The ad lists MILO’s added vitamins and minerals before the final line: 'MILO, it’s the tonic of the times’. 

Summary by Poppy De Souza.

Joy of Living uses humour to illustrate how not to enjoy a good night’s rest with the man eating a large bone of meat, reading murder mysteries, and tumbling out of bed. This captures the attention and interest of the audience for the remainder of the advertisement, which establishes MILO as the answer to a getting a restful sleep.

Joy of Living synopsis

This cinema advertisement for MILO shows how to get a good night’s rest and plenty of energy for the morning – just drink a cup of MILO before bedtime!

Joy of Living curator's notes

MILO is one of Nestlé's most familiar brands and has been a around since 1934. Over that time the product has been advertised in a number of ways, changing in style and tone to adapt to its audience. Here in The Joy of Living MILO is branded as ‘the tonic of the times’ and the man and woman featured in the ad are young single adults.

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.

Notes by Poppy De Souza

Education Notes

This clip shows a well-dressed young woman starting her day by picking brightly coloured flowers. A narrator explains that 'some folk always start the day right, sparkling with health and energy’. This is contrasted with a young man in pyjamas and dressing gown, who collects the morning paper and milk and, still half asleep, puts the paper in the fridge and takes the milk to bed. A chemist explains 'the golden rules for sleeping well’ and, over footage of the woman ice-skating and of children playing in the park, the narrator calls MILO a 'tonic for the times’. The clip includes a soundtrack with lively music.

Educational value points

  • This 1948 cinema advertisement uses a common technique for constructing a persuasive narrative: it contrasts a happy story with an unhappy one. A man, who makes a number of mistakes in attempting to get a good night’s sleep and consequently wakes up confused and irritable, is juxtaposed with a woman who follows the rules by only eating a light supper, reading a little, and most importantly drinking MILO before bed.
  • Common elements in the language of persuasion are in evidence in this advertisement. These include rhetorical questions such as 'Why do some people want to sleep only when it’s time to rise and shine?’, comments from the narrator on the action 'Some sleep! Some dream!’ and the support of authority figures such as the chemist.
  • This clip demonstrates how music can enhance the themes and content of the footage. Lively orchestral music, with a quick 'energetic’ pace in keeping with the idea of MILO as an energy drink, establishes the mood and pace of the advertisement. The same piece of music is used throughout, but at a lower volume when the narrator and chemist speak. The music builds to a dramatic chord at the end of the advertisement to underline the catchphrase 'It’s a Nestles Product’.
  • MILO is a malted chocolate-flavoured drink produced by Nestles (now Nestlé). In this 1948 advertisement, it is promoted as improving stamina, resistance to illness and as a 'body-building tonic food’. The clip presents 'Nestle’s fortified tonic food’ as a relaxing and soothing contribution to good night’s sleep and a stable, restful, orderly and healthy life. By contrast, today Nestlé’s MILO website and advertising emphasises MILO’s association with sport in various forms.
  • 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 a newly discovered vacuum shelf-drying technology. The brand was launched at the 1934 Royal Sydney Easter Show.
  • Ernest H Higgins (1871–1945), the most experimental of three Australian brothers who were all cameramen, was a filmmaker who developed his own colour-processing technique around 1937. This technique and Higgins’s company are acknowledged in the subtitles 'Colour by SOLARCHROME’ and 'A LITCHFIELD PRODUCTION’. Higgins established Solarchrome Colour Processing to produce cinema advertisements, commercial shorts and documentaries.

Education notes provided by The Learning Federation and Education Services Australia