On September 9 September 1979, the smurfs were introduced to Australia in a campaign that the country had never seen before or since.
Due to the huge success of smurfs selling in the UK in service stations, it would only be a matter of time that the promotion would start in Australia.
Not only were selected BP service stations selling smurf figurines, they were also going to be selling children t-shirts, window wavers (whatever they are!) hanging mobiles, visor caps, posters, stickers and soft toys.
Along with this, there were promotions happening across radio and television. With the radio campaign there was a jingle that was released a week before launch to introduce the Australia mainstream audience to the smurfs.
Magazines such as the Women’s Weekly and the Reader’s Digest had full page advertisements. One of the marketing theory’s behind this is that people would display these as posters in their homes.
In all major newspapers across Australia full page advertisements telling them “BP the one place on earth you’ll get service with a smurf!”
The major attraction of the promotion was the smurf figurines. At this point of time, the smurf figurines were only exclusive to BP Australia. In it’s first release ten smurfs were available. Selling for 85 cents each!
What’s interesting about the first ten released is in some of the names they gave them. These included Normal, Drummer, Spy, Judge, Flower, Handy, Rocker, I Hear Nothing, Vanity and Watchman.
Handy is now known as Mechanic, Rocker known as Lute, I Hear Nothing is known as Earache, Vanity known as Mirror and Watchman known as Lantern. This may have had something to do with the translation from Dutch or German to English.
By the end of 1979, six more figurines were added to the mix. These included Papa Smurf, Sunbather, Astro, Smurfette, Coin and Keep Fit (now known as Gymnast)
These early figurines were different to the ones available in Europe as these were made in Hong Kong. For example some of their smurfs had spray painted blue skin and the PVC used was generally harder than the ones made in Europe.
Around November, Peters Ice-cream released a blue/white ice lolly called Smurfee. These were selling around 19cents. This may have something to do with the afilation of Peters Ice-cream and Nestle at the time, though this is only my theory.
What’s most interesting about the release of Smurfee is that this was before the release of the Ice Lolly smurf figurine.
This was only the beginning, over the next couple smurf merchandise was going to explode in Australia. Everything from aprons to bed linen. There was no escaping from the smurfs!
Keep on Smurfin