Postwar South America became somewhat notorious as a haven for Germans fleeing the defeat of the Third Reich in World War II, but some Teutonic types had already made it big in Argentina before the Nazis…and kangaroos had something to do with it, albeit an extremely minor role.
Kangaroos served as an advertising figure for Sarrasani, a world-famous German circus between the wars. Sarrasani was formed in the German city of Dresden in 1901 by Hans Stosch, a clown with the stage name Giovanni Sarrasani. The circus was best-known for its elephants, but also employed lots of “exotic” peoples such as Japanese, Javanese and Sioux Native Americans, as well as the then rarely seen marsupials.
The circus boomed throughout the 1920s, when Sarrasani also wrote pulp fiction cowboy stories. Stosch’s son, also Hans, ran the circus until his death in the early 1940s and was succeeded by his widow. The Sarrasani circus was destroyed by the Bombing of Dresden in 1945.
Trude Stosch-Sarrasani re-established the circus in Argentina in the 1940s, even calling it the Argentinean National Circus to appease nationalist Peronistas at one stage.
The circus returned to Germany following German reunification in 1990 and continues to operate.
For much of the 20th century, Irish brewery Guinness used kangaroos for its advertising.
There was apparently no particular reason that advertiser John Gilroy selected kangaroos for a famous series of ads featuring exotic animals that the brewer used from the 1920s through to the 1960s and still common today.
The kangaroos in the ads were notorious for sneaking away a pint of stout in their pouches.
In addition to posters, the kangaroos featured in early TV ads, adorned coasters and were used for Carlton Ware figurines and even a salt-and-pepper shaker.
The advertisements ran under such copy as “Guinness is Good For You,” “My Goodness, My Guinness” and “Ask for a Baby Guinness.”
Guinness even ran a competition to name a joey born at Adelaide Zoo.