TV promos – social history – with garish fashions!

I love TV – must be a child of the 80s thing and having parents that let us watch enough – but not too much telly – as kids. I grew up with the late 70s / 80s staples – Early Bird Show, Shirl’s Neighbourhood, sang with the National Boys’ Choir on everything from Ernie Sigley to the 80s icon that was Young Talent Time – and along the way picked up a fascination with TV station promos. Yep – TV promos!

Jingles can be really catchy; they grab your attention and make you feel like you’re ‘part’ of the station – marketing and advertising wonks getting their money’s worth.

In this post last year I looked at some of the classics from GTV9 here in Melbourne – including two station IDs that I recall and liked.

Recently I was thinking that TV promos are a really simple way of seeing ourselves as a community (let’s say, Melbourne in this instance) at a certain point in time. They’re windows to what was important, clothes in fashion, and the stars from the day. It’s fascinating looking at the GTV9 promos from the 80s – Peter Hitchener remains as senior newsreader; Tracey Grimshaw was a journo. Most have gone – and yes, that’s the nature of TV I guess; like life it’s transient and nothing stays the same.

Part of my fascination with social history comes from my Masters in communication – how we see things, what stories people / events / items tell us – what meaning can be attributed to something. Narrative inquiry theory is not the objective of this post (and I doubt I’ll ever write one on it!) – but as our first-year lecturer said ‘the world changes depending on where you stand’. Yes, that’s a truism but think about it more deeply and it becomes a very simple way of understanding other people – put yourself in their shoes.

Everyone has stories. Everyone has a story to tell. Everyone is part of a community (whatever that means for you) and TV stations (I think) love to make you feel as if they’re part of you, you’re a part of them -and bingo – brand loyalty.

….Or am I being a cynic who loved every moment of Frontline….?!

As I look back to the 80s, YouTube is a goldmine of social history of how people saw themselves and how communities and their televisual selves, as portrayed in the promos, have changed.

We can learn as much about how we saw ourselves as Melburnians thirty years ago by seeing our city portrayed in these promos as we can by looking at the fantastic plaques on city buildings that tell of what they were; or looking at the various statues in the city; or the different architecture styles.

And so to my equal favourite Melbourne promo – this one is superb because it’s SO Melbourne – and yet, as I’ll detail in another post, so not…


The iconography of this promo is superb – trams, the river, CBD, the bay – just says ‘Melbourne’ to you – and the jingle is great. In fact, somehow the Hello Melbourne jingle got stuck in my mind just as I was boarding a plane in Vancouver to fly to back to Australia and I could not for the life of me get it out – thank you Frank Gari!

If Hello Melbourne was catchy, this one from GTV9 is my favourite ‘way things were’ promo – it’s reflective, very earnest and I love the orchestrations. It features many stars, including Marmalade the cat!


And it’s not just Melbourne TV promos that can click along with a good theme. This is from BTV6 in Ballarat from the mid 80s, prior to aggregation and VIC-TV and WIN-TV. I can’t make out the words but having spent holidays with my cousins in Ballarat, I was always bemused as to why they only had one commercial TV station…with lots of shows from all three networks. It’s a catchy little number.


Back in Melbourne, HSV7 in the early 80s (I think, looking at the footage – this is pre Hello Melbourne) had this – the good old five and two!


To conclude – two classic pieces of Aussie TV – the first, a clip from the Logies – with those hairdos! It’s jingle-central from 1987:


And finally – the gang from Frontline do their take on promos – eerily brilliant and very very close to the bone!


(a big thanks to those peeps who’ve taken the trouble to pop these clips on YouTube – cheers all!).

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