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.
A long, long time ago, in a Straya far, far away, Australia briefly exported cigarettes to Japan.
It wasn’t that long ago, actually.
But for several months in 1994, Winfield cigarettes, one of Australia’s most famous brands (it marketed itself as “Australia’s No. 1 brand” in Japan, but it was actually only the second-biggest seller Down Under, behind Peter Jackson), was an unlikely competitor of mostly British and American Big Tobacco companies to tap into what was still then a thriving Japanese smokers’ market largely unregulated at the time. Winfield was on a downturn at the time in its home country.
Cigarette advertising had been banned from TV and print media decades earlier, but by the mid-1990s in Australia had also been outlawed from outdoor displays and sporting events that tobacco company sponsorship had largely kept afloat.
Japanese Winnie Reds
Like many Western companies faced with growing anti-smoking sentiment at the time, the owners of the Winfield brand decided to flog their fags off to Asians. It didn’t work too well in Japan.
Japanese Winnie Reds and Winnie Blues could be found in the country’s ciggie vending machines (then ubiquitous, now becoming rarer) over what was a record-breaking hot summer and autumn, but were mostly gone by the Christmas of that year.
Winfield owed its chance overseas to many factors, at least one of which was the role played by Paul Hogan, a sometime comedian better-known to international audiences as the star of the Crocodile Dundee film series.
Hoges had been the face of Winfield when it first came out in the 1970s and he was beginning his ascent toward becoming one of Australia’s best-known stars. He became synonymous with the brand even as its presence was being limited, but his famous catch copy of “…anyhow* have a Winfield,” entered the lexicon of ordinary Aussies.
Japanese Winnie Blues
…anyhow*, Australia outlawed packaging displays on cigarettes from 2012. Although punters could still ask for their different types of Winnies, which had been branded according to colors such as Red and Blue, the packaging was no longer actually red, blue or any other color.
Even Hoges, whose rise to fame was at least partly inspired by a sharp set of movie theater and print ads he’d made for Winfield in the 1970s, came out a few years ago to say that he deeply regretted the commercials for having inspired so many people to pick up a durry. Hoges and Stropp Winfield Ad from 1971
Skippy the Bush Kangaroo, probably the most-loved Australian children’s TV program in history, has turned 50 years old.
The first episodes screened in Australia in February 1968 and the show remains popular to this day, though only three series comprising 91 episodes were made.
The show premiered outside of Australia. Its run in Japan had effectively ended before Skippy showed in Australia, mainly because the series was made in color, which did not arrive in Australia until 1975. Skippy told the story of a grey kangaroo and her best friend, a young boy named Sonny Hammond, played by Garry Pankhurst in his only role of significance in an acting career that had finished by his teens. Pankhurst grew up to work in the hospitality business and eventually ended up exporting kangaroo meat for consumption in Asian countries.
Sonny’s father, Matt, was the head ranger at the (fictional) Waratah National Park, as depicted by Ed Devereaux. Other cast regulars included Sonny’s brother, Mark, portrayed by Ken James, the park pilot, Jerry King, played by Tony Bonner, and park receptionist, Clancy, performed by Liza Goddard.
Skippy was the marsupial equivalent to the likes of Lassie, Flipper and Rin Tin Tin, to name a few animal sleuths, solving all sorts of problems and achieving all manner of feats worthy of a superhero.
In addition to the TV series, in 1969 there was also the release of a feature-length film called Skippy and the Intruders. See the movie here.
Skippy’s iconic theme also proved to be a winner for transplanted Pom, Eric Jupp, who wrote and performed it. On the back of the successful son, Jupp released a series of Skippy-themed singles, including the main theme.
Skippy remained an integral part of the Australian TV landscape long after its original run.
In 1992, an updated version of the show ran, called The Adventures of Skippy.
In this show, Andrew Clarke played a grown Sonny Hammond, himself now a park ranger, but who retained strong ties to Skippy.
Even this series had a Japanese angle, as you can find out by watching the show below.
And, just as a bonus, here’s the French version of the show’s opening titles. Skippy – générique en français