Political advertising is an arcane art shrouded in darkness and mystery. We’re all impacted by it, but few of us understand what drives the decisions behind the onslaught of targeted advertising we get hit with around every election. Dee Madigan is one of those who does understand and, in her new book The Hard Sell, she pulls back the shroud and lets us all in on the secrets.
Madigan is an award-winning creative director and a regular panellist on The Gruen Planet. She’s also worked on both Federal and State election campaigns, so she really knows what goes on behind the scenes. The Hard Sell delves into:
How political ads are designed to work; Who are they designed to work on; How we pay for them; Why we make so many negative ads; How personal is too personal; How spin works, particularly in an election campaigns; How to make messages cut through the cynicism; How politicians use journos who use politicians who use journos; The gendered nature of it all. And finally, what happens when it all turns to sh*t!
This is a candid look into a murky world. I think we’re all sort of aware of the level of cynicism involved in political advertising but it is both sobering and fascinating to see it laid bare, especially in an Australian context. The level of overt and covert manipulation displayed is quite horrifying; but probably the only way an individual can counter that manipulation is to understand which strings are being pulled and why. That’s what makes Madigan’s book so interesting, but also so very useful. If you have any interest in politics, or are even just a sentient being over the age of 18 who’s ever seen an ad, you really should read this book.
Beyond the content, The Hard Sell is written with more than enough humour and insight to make it just a thoroughly entertaining read. I highly recommend this book. (And, if that’s not enough, the author promises to throw in a free rabbit if you buy her book.)
We read a review copy of the The Hard Sell.