'Life. Be in it' sunhat.
This hat is a piece of promotional merchandise from the 'Life. Be in it' program, a Victorian State Government initiative launched in 1975. Initially intended purely as a campaign to encourage people to get out and get some exercise, it was an immediate success and by late 1977 it had become a national program supported by all Australian governments, state and Federal. The messages promulgated by the program expanded to promote not only fitness but also quality of life. In 1981 Federal funding was abruptly terminated and 'Life. Be in it' became a not-for-profit company, an early example of privatisation. In April 1998 the 'Life. Be in it' Australia company went into liquidation, although its international private company subsidiary still survives.
Monahan Dayman Adams was the advertising company that devised the 'Life. Be in it' campaign for the Victorian Department of Youth, Sport and Recreation. A principal of the company, Phillip Adams, had the formative ideas for the campaign and Alex Stitt brought them to life with his distinctive cartoon characters.
The campaign consisted largely of a series of TV commercials. The television campaign was backed up by print, such as posters and calendars, and there was promotional merchandise as well.
The central character in the 'Life. Be in it' commercials became a cult figure. The obese, middle-aged man, Norm, was an anti-hero who needed to stop being a couch potato and become 'more active'.
The memorable jingle that supported the 'Life. Be in it' campaign was written by Peter Best.
The 'Life. Be in it' campaign has been the subject of considerable academic scrutiny. Public health researchers point to the success of the 'Life. Be in it' program as a demonstration that broad social values can be changed by media campaigns.
In 2002 graphic designer Alex Stitt and his former business partner Bruce Weatherhead were honoured by the Australian Graphic Design Association by being elevated to the AGDA Paperpoint Hall of Fame.
Eastley, Kylie, & Goodwin, Vanessa, Tasmanian crime prevention and community safety directory, June 1998
Life. Be in it.
Macquarie Dictionary Book of Slang
Robinson, Max, 'Bruce Weatherhead and Alex Stitt - Weatherhead and Stitt 1964-1973', AGDA Paperpoint Hall of Fame, Australian Graphic Design Association, 2002.
Shelton, Sara Jane, 'Life. Be in it' TM: From incrementalism to sharp policy reversals, Thesis submitted as partial fulfilment of Master of Arts degree in the Centre for Public Policy, Faculty of Arts, University of Melbourne, May 1999 (copy on file, Powerhouse Museum).
Stitt, Alex, & Stitt, Paddy, Interviewed by Powerhouse Museum curator Megan Hicks and researcher Claire Hooker, 21 June 2001 (transcript of conversation notes on file, Powerhouse Museum).