Russel Howcroft returns in a new season of Gruen and presents the new doco How Australia Got Its Mojo.
Russel Howcroft returns in a new season of Gruen and presents the new doco How Australia Got Its Mojo. Michael Corridore

Gruen fave returns to celebrate classic ads we sang along to

ASK any Aussie "How Do Ya Feel?", and chances are they'd respond "I feel like a Tooheys".

And there's no doubt during our recent successful Ashes campaign in the UK, there were some sports lovers in the crowd chanting "C'mon Aussie C'mon".

But did you know the same creative duo was the behind the two advertising campaigns, as well as many others, which worked their way into the cultural vernacular?

Gruen panellist Russel Howcroft is returning to our screens to make sure the legacy of Allan 'Jo' Johnston and Alan 'Mo' Morris, the founders of the Mojo Agency, is not forgotten in the ABC documentary How Australia Got Its Mojo.

"Being a cricket tragic, the C'mon Aussie campaign affected me like everyone else," he tells The Guide. "World Series Cricket was going nowhere, then all of a sudden it was powerful force.

"I remember being at school summer camp singing the song. I would have been 12 or 13."

Viewers of Gruen, the ABC's factual series which analyses advertising and marketing spin, will know Howcroft gets passionate about ads which transcend the tacky and obvious.

As well as creating the famous Tooheys and World Series Cricket ads, Mojo teamed up with "every man" Paul 'Hoges' Hogan to sell everything from cigarettes to Australia itself in the Shrimp on the Barbie tourism ad.

"The power of put a shrimp on the barbie in a commercial context - it's this quote is the quotable quote. There should be a statue of Mo and Jo," he says.

"It really is an important social history; an important story to be told. The advertising these gents created was more than advertising. It had a social impact and a commercial impact."

Mo, who passed away in 2007, and Jo, who appears in the doco, helped to usher in a new era of unashamedly home-grown advertising as Australia discovered an identity separate from both 'Mother England' and the United States. A talented musician, Jo sang most of the slang-filled jingles he and Mo wrote in broad Aussie accent.

Russel Howcroft, Delvene Delaney and Allan Johnston in a scene from the documentary How Australia Got Its Mojo.
Russel Howcroft, Delvene Delaney and Allan Johnston in a scene from the documentary How Australia Got Its Mojo. Supplied

"That was his voice that was in our living rooms," Howcroft says.

"He's a singer songwriter who chose to sing about brands. The great thing about advertisers is it's their money that exposes your talent."

Mojo's biggest achievements were landing the campaigns for national airline Qantas, creating the famous I Still Call Australia Home ads, and the Australian Tourist Commission.

Their Hoges-helmed ads selling Australia as a destination "just across the Pacific" to Americans boosted the tourism industry almost overnight, with hotels popping up to accommodate a growing number of visitors.

Hoges himself appears on the program to talk about those glory days, as do Delvene Delaney, Ita Buttrose, John Singleton, Ian Chappell and former Federal Minister for Tourism John Brown.

"When you consider all the people happy to come and be a part of the show, that's the respect for that time and the talent involved in that time," he says.

Howcroft also returns in a new season of Gruen to break down and analyse the best and worst ads of today.

Todd Sampson, Dee Madigan, Wil Anderson, Karen Ferry and Russel Howcroft return in the 11th season of Gruen.
Todd Sampson, Dee Madigan, Wil Anderson, Karen Ferry and Russel Howcroft return in the 11th season of Gruen. Michael Corridore

"One of the reasons why its had such longevity is there's always new advertising to talk about," he says.

"I hope we get to talk about some good, old-fashioned advertising like the new BCF ad and the Vegemite-Marmite war during the Ashes. The public loves that stuff, and when people have fun with advertising, it works."

Gruen returns Wednesday at 8.30pm and How Australia Got Its Mojo airs Tuesday, October 1 at 8.30pm on ABC-TV.



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