Louie the Fly

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Louie the Fly is an anthropomorphic housefly who appears in advertisements for Mortein, an Australian brand of insecticide.

The changing face of Louie the Fly.

Mortein was first developed in Australia in the 1870s by German immigrant J. Hagemann, the name being a combination of mort (French: “dead”) and ein (German: one). Mortein was manufactured by Samuel Taylor Pty Ltd from 1937. Few people would be aware, however, that best-selling author Bryce Courtenay is the man behind the fly.


The author of 17 novels including the The Power of One, Tandia and The Potato Factory was a 24-year-old advertising copywriter working for Sydney's McCann Erickson agency when the account landed in his lap by dint of a nervous managing director from the company that made Mortein — "a man named Bill Graham, who was answerable only to God" — who had rejected the original proposal.

The character of Louie, coupled with a catchy advertising jingle, stuck in people’s memories, and became something of an Australian icon. Louie has changed slightly over the decades, but keeps returning to television adverts every Spring and Summer in Australia.

In 1962, when the jingle was introduced, Louie's original singing voice was performed by Neil Williams, eventually his voice was performed by late actor Ross Higgins (who was also best known for starring Ted Bullpitt in Kingswood Country.) Higgins suggested that Louie should sound like a Chicagoan gangster, "in a sort of Edward G. Robinson way, but more guttural."

The composer for the jingle was James Joseph White, he worked on many other different jingles for commercials such as Mr Sheen. His niece, Lesley Rochaix stated that it was the only composition that he copyrighted. After White's death, his relatives gained copyright for the jingle.


He is depicted as a street-smart, roguish hustler, wearing a hat while a burnt-match toothpick (at one time a cigar) hangs from his mouth. More recently, he has been joined by other minor characters (including spiders, mosquitoes, and cockroaches, including one named "Harry") created by the advertisers to promote the versatility of Mortein.

In his first advertisement in 1957, Louie was represented by a realistic-looking fly.

Original Advertising Jingle[edit]

This is the first advertising jingle that was used in the 1962 ad. However in some ads, part of the lyrics have changed (such as the 1990's ads,) and in the newer ads an instrumental of the composition can be heard.

Louie the Fly, I’m Louie the Fly

Straight from rubbish tip to you.

Spreading disease, with the greatest of ease.

Straight from rubbish tip to you.

I’m bad and mean and mighty unclean.

Afraid of no-one, ‘cept the man with the can of Mortein.

Hate that word Mortein.

One spray and Louie the Fly,

Apple of his old mother’s eye was Louie,

Poor dead Louie, Louie the Fly a victim of Mortein. Mortein.

2011 "Save Louie the Fly" campaign[edit]

In summer of 2011, Mortein launched a PR campaign asking the public to decide Louie's fate. At the end of the year, the campaign received over 250,000 votes to save Louie which lead to him being brought back.

External links[edit]