The ironic marketing of heritage and nostalgia: the branding of Bushells tea, 1983-c.1990

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Historical Research in Marketing, 2016, 8 (3), pp. 358 - 374
Issue Date:
Filename Description Size
JHRM-06-2014-0015.pdfPublished Version154.15 kB
Adobe PDF
Full metadata record
© 2016, © Emerald Group Publishing Limited. Purpose: This study aims to examine and contextualize the growing salience of nostalgic motifs in the promotion of Bushells Tea from the early 1980s to the early 1990s. It aims to analyze the ironic foregrounding of a rural aesthetic as a strategic evasion of growing concerns in popular media about the globalization of the Australian economy and the concomitant “takeover” of iconic Australian brands, including Bushells, by multinational corporations. Design/methodology/approach: This article draws on three main materials: a collection of Bushells advertisements (from newspapers, magazines and television), promotional materials, rare press clippings and company memos/briefs, which were loaned to the author for the purposes of this research by Unilever Australasia (Sydney, Australia); contemporary press reports that document popular reactions to the rapid globalization of the Australian economy in the early 1990s; and biographies of key personnel and organizations. Findings: Despite its gradual takeover by a multinational corporation, the Bushells brand was marketed in ways that evoked an “authentic” and nostalgic nationalism through imagery that drew on the nation’s rural past, reproduced a rustic aesthetic and sentimentalized a pre-globalized era. Originality/value: This article constitutes original interdisciplinary analysis of how one of Australia’s most iconic and historically dominant brands (Bushells Tea) was marketed during one of the most tumultuous periods in its history. Through examination of rare archival material and contemporary press reports, the analysis makes a valuable contribution to the understanding of brand marketing history in Australia.
Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: