Barely commercial Games

June 30, 2017
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While the Olympic Games might be big business today, in 1956 it was small beer, and many companies saw little value in associating their name with the Olympics.

Peters ice cream ran a series of articles that imagined visitors from various countries sharing a meal with an Australian family. The highlight of these meals was, naturally, Peters ice cream, “Australia’s delicious national dish.”

The Gas and Fuel Corporation, in a quarter page spread, told Victorians that it had provided all the gas cookers at the Olympic Village and that its boiler provided hot water, at 250°F, for the sauna bath house “favoured by Scandinavian competitors. It failed to mention, however, that it caught fire at least twice during the Games.

Other advertisements reminded readers that ANZ were the official bankers to the Games and the Tip Top Paints were exclusively used to paint the buildings in the Olympic Village. And after a busy day at the MCG, there would be time for Burnett’s White Satin Gin.

Franchising was still in its infancy, but to everyone’s surprise, Richmond Bitter bought the exclusive rights to serve its beer at the MCG, winning against Carlton and United.

Riding off the shirttails of the Olympic Games was the racing industry. An advertisement in The Argus urged Olympic visitors to attend the Royal Melbourne Showgrounds to see “Melbourne’s Most Spectacular Entertainment – Night Trotting,” where they could wager on the Olympic Year Cup. At the New Tivoli Theatre, the Olympic Follies was entertaining capacity audiences during November and December 1956 with vaudeville, dancers in skimpy skirts and overseas stars.

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