Welcome to Aussie adland

There have been some unexpected side-effects of bringing our kids back to an English-speaking country. Most notably, it has revealed how sheltered our boys have been in some aspects of life.

I’m talking about advertising. Australia is full of it. And it’s really ‘in your face’.

Any visitor will tell you that there’s something quite reserved about Scandinavia, and that extends to the advertising too. Sure, there are billboards, TV ads and the occasional tele-sales call from newspapers and insurance companies, but when you overlay the additional filter of not being a native speaker and not intending to stay permanently in the country, it’s fair to say that the role of advertising is more about announcing the availability of products than in persuading you that you must have them, and now.

Our early exposure to life in Australia has changed all that. Everything is about ‘the sell’ here. As native Brits, my wife and I know how to deal with it, but the impact on our kids has been fascinating to see.

Aussie TV in particular seems full of shouty people imploring you to buy their wares before some imaginary deadline expires, and the kids are utterly convinced of this necessity.

Just this morning, our eldest son became convince that we needed, in turn, a robot pool cleaner (we don’t have a pool), a stair-lift (we don’t have any stairs) and an info-mercial promoted American vacuum cleaner (we just bought a vacuum cleaner a few weeks ago). At the same time, he professes wonderment at how inexpensive certain large purchases are, enticed by the low deposit, monthly finance schemes designed to lure you into signing up.

“Life insurance for just 25 cents a day, Daddy. That’s good isn’t it?” Since he doesn’t study the personal finance and insurance markets, I’m not sure what he’s basing this on, but he’s keen for us to sign up.

It’s a reminder of the need to educate the kids about different things than we would have encountered in Denmark. They have all the basics in place – they are revolted, rather than tempted by the toy doll who poops plastic charms which can then be assembled into a bracelet – “Eewww. Who would want to buy that?” Well, quite.


Screen grab from a TV ad for Diaper Surprise dolls.

Diaper Surprise! “Eeewwww.”

Now I just need to build on that selectivity by telling them that, even if they do think the new Nissan SUV range offers something for everyone, it’s going to take a lots of years of pocket money before they pay theirs off.

13 thoughts on “Welcome to Aussie adland

  1. Haha, CBRBound, it’s always interesting to read about your own country. Those shouty ads are the pits aren’t they. They don’t even have the charm of being clever or witty or pretty, they are just, well, shouty. We first became aware of them in a big way when we lived in the US, and then we started noticing them here. Did we copy them from the US or were we just not aware? Anyhow, fortunately we watch little commercial TV – and what we do we time shift so we can miss the ads – but you can’t always avoid them. Do you not have shouty ads in the UK?

    Relating it all to pocket money sounds like the way to go!


    • Good question. I haven’t lived in the UK for 10 years so I don’t really know, but I think you may be right about them originating in the US. They didn’t have them in Denmark but maybe that will change. I’m not sure Danes would respond well to them though.


      • Hmm, what does that say about we Aussies then. Perhaps it’s my Danish forbears that stops me responding well!! My mother’s maiden name was Green, an anglicisation of Grøn, as you would know, which was her grandfather’s or, hmm, great grandfather’s name. Embarrassingly, I haven’t yet been to Denmark. Must do that.


      • You must. It isn’t utopia and they haven’t go everything right, but it’s worth a visit. As for the commercialism, I guess it’s a blend of what works and what is culturally appropriate. It’s certainly a new landscape for our kids to navigate though.


      • I will …

        I was fascinated by your post. So interesting that your kids had been somewhat protected from advertising and are now suddenly being confronted by it. Most kids just grow up with it, but your experience would be common probably for many migrants. Can you imagine the impact on those coming from refugee camps.


  2. So true. Are the commercials every 5 minutes? Weird here in Sweden. There are blocks of 10 minutes, all commercials, in the middle of programs. You can go away and make tea safe in the knowledge your program won’t start soon.

    Another blessing of not speaking the language is you don’t understand the politics. Oh. Wait. I didn’t understand that in my own language.


  3. Eddy says:

    Hi CBR bound,

    As a native it’s interesting to hear this perspective. I haven’t had a television for over a decade, and only listen to ABC radio. We watch a bit of telly in our house, but via iView from Aunty (ABC), Netflix (via VPN), or just downloading / renting from the interweb. Like you, I get a shock when we go to someone’s house and there’s a TV going with ads. At least Canberra doesn’t have big billboards.

    BTW, I note your profile pic still features the Sydney harbour bridge. Praps a parly flagpole in the background? 🙂



    • Hi Eddy, That’s true, there are fewer ad hoardings here. That’s good. As for the pic — you are right. Now we are here, I’d best get myself up Mt Ainslie sharpish!


  4. Fab post and oh so true! We’ve blocked out all of the 24hr infomercial channels from our tv and mostly watch ABC or SBS… but occasionally we get caught off-guard by the shouty ads (usually worse in regional areas, with local people having input into creating their own ads… cringeworthy to say the least!) Thankfully having 2 boys too, we’ve never been asked to buy charm-pooping dolls! 🙂 That’s hilarious!


    • Back in the UK, those local ads (for curry houses, carpet shops and so on) were usually reserved for the cinema. But yes, we’ve noticed them here on TV — “Buy now, these prices are crazy and they can’t last. Don’t miss out…” My kids are hooked. I’m less impressed 😉


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s