Football, meat pies, kangaroos and Holden cars… about as dinky di as the Malibu. Can we please put this myth to bed, asks Paul Murrell.

In the snowstorm of comment about the demise of Holden’s local production, one myth keeps being trotted out and it’s really starting to get my goat. The television commercial “We love football, meat pies, kangaroos and Holden cars” became part of the Australian vernacular and gets a run in every second article about the car maker.

But here’s the thing: it wasn’t an original Australian commercial, but a rework of a Chevrolet commercial from a couple of years earlier. The original lyric was “Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet”. Notice how much better it scans, and it doesn’t need the additional word, “cars” either. It was written by Jim Hartzell, a copywriter with Campbell-Ewald/Detroit and the music was composed by Ed Labunski (who appeared in the original commercial). In 2006, a sequel was created for Chevrolet, created by Deutsch Los Angeles and using original footage but incorporating modern American lifestyle elements and the modern footage of baseball.

The 1976 local remake appealed to Australian patriotism, or jingoism to be precise. It featured a montage of Australian outdoor scenes (lots of sun-bronzed Aussies working on their melanomas), Australian flags and native fauna, all intercut with various mid-70s Holdens. It perfectly captured the laid-back and fun-loving Australia of the time, although it fails to depict the cultural diversity that even then was an important part of our make-up.

So next time someone quotes “football, meat pies, kangaroos and Holden cars” as the great Aussie car commercial, tell ‘em it’s as derivative as the Holden Malibu, Cruze, Colorado, Barina, Trax and Captiva. And if there’s still a Holden badge after 2017, every other car General Motors sells in Australia. Except by then they’ll probably be called Chevrolets.

Maybe there’ll be another remake – “We love football, meat pies, kangaroos and Chevrolet”. On second thoughts, perhaps not.


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