The various representational strategies that are employed by Australia’s most popular beer represent the discourses and ideals of its citizens. Various visual images are employed in the advertising of Victoria Bitter (VB) in order to convey it as the “working class man’s drink. ” Among these images are males employed in the physically demanding industries of farming and mining. Historically, this testifies to the fact that Australia’s wealth was born of the land, her natural resources and the hard work of her people.
Thus “The Australian Way of Life” was founded upon manual labour. From the convicts of Botany Bay to the early farming pioneers, the colonisation of Australia was not easy. As a result of this, Australians culturally have a deep respect for those who work hard against the odds; hence the term “little Aussie battler” was coined. Even today, Australian’s are known far more for their physical prowess, demonstrated through sporting achievements than any other field.
VB advertisements convey and naturalise the image of “working class, little Aussie battler doing it tough” by themselves in the bush, when in fact, Australia is one of the most urbanised nations in the world, with over 70% of its population living in major cities. VB television adverts depict males drinking in stereotypical, small town Aussie pubs, which serve to foster a sense of community amongst its consumers, VB prides itself on being the only Australian beer to have broken through the barriers of “Australia’s culturally entrenched state beer obsession” (Parkes qtd in Australianbeers.
com). This collaboration of “state culture” to form a homogenised Australian culture relates to the use of music in VB advertisements. All non-print VB adverts (radio, television) feature a common soundtrack that is based on the theme of the 1960’s movie “The Magnificent Seven”, a film that was one of the most popular westerns ever produced. The “magnificent seven” are portrayed somewhat as outcasts, defending the forgotten and downtrodden. This aural illusion suggests that VB is constructing itself as the underdog much like the characters in the film.
This mindset is representative of how Australia has viewed itself in relation to more established nations such as Britain or the USA. Hence VB is constructing itself as a “little Aussie battler”. VB advertisements employ symbolic images to represent several discourses and ideals, the main being that Australia is a working class nation and thereby an egalitarian society. VB advertisements also depict a nation whose society has been built upon the qualities of mateship and “hard yakka.
” Within one VB advertisement, “hard yakka” is depicted against a backdrop of a typically Australian, clear blue sky in which two mates struggle to control a raging bull. The two mates smiles’ are constant, despite the external hardships they are facing. The clear blue sky acts to signify, the first being to signify that VB is distinctly Australian, the sky’s deep blue colour along with the smiling mates signify’s optimism (perhaps of living in the “lucky country”) and its endless nature signify’s freedom. The signification of freedom is multi-faceted and highly important.
Freedom is one of the founding qualities of Australian society, in the sense that Australia supposedly enjoys an egalitarian society free from class distinctions, religious or racial restrictions and gender inequality. The adverts themselves feature only Anglo-Saxon males. VB advertisements therefore endorse the old adage that Australian society is egalitarian only if you are a male WASP. Thus the meaning of freedom that VB is advocating through its use of a clear, blue sky is personal space and the opportunity to engage with and use the land for our own recreational purposes.
The Australian regard for mateship is shown in one television advert by depicting two men involved in hard yakka (sheep shearing) working diligently alongside each other, these same two men are then shown enjoying a beer together. Perhaps the most significant means of representation employed by the advertisers of VB is language. Language is the keystone in VB’s radio advertisements but it is also crucial in it’s television adverts in the form of voice-overs as there is no dialogue. The voice over in both the radio and television advert proclaims, ” a hard earned thirst needs a big, cold beer and the best cold beer’s VIC”.
The voice sounds like that of a man from the baby-boomer generation, is firm yet down-to-earth and the language used is deliberately simple. All of this occurs to keep in line with VB’s construction as the “working class man’s drink” and to also to portray a “no frills or fuss” mentality. VB is almost personified by having it’s name Victoria Bitter, shortened to the male name “VIC”, this effectively turns an otherwise inanimate product (in the form of an aluminium can or stubby) into a reliable, treasured best mate.