Covert persuasion is used in politics and advertising and if you didn’t know that then stop here and don’t read anymore of this. There is a new show on ABC called the Gruen Transfer that specifically looking at advertising and more or less picking it apart. Advertising is all about persuading others to buy the product or service you want them to. So, underlying all the talk of politics and advertising will be the principles of covert persuasion. Of course they may not call it that but it may come up now and then because covert persuasion is used in politics and advertising.
“Advertising is about persuasion, and Planet will apply the show’s framework – discussing and illustrating the power of persuasion – to the world of spin, PR, branding and image control.
The Gruen Transfer is one of the more remarkable television success stories of recent times. Now comfortably the ABC’s highest-rating program (last week’s penultimate episode averaged 1.4 million, not including iView viewers), it has unequivocally influenced the way we perceive advertising and the tools companies use to persuade us to buy.”
“Deftly hosted by comedian Wil Anderson, Transfer leans on permanent, slightly combative panellists Russel Howcroft and Todd Sampson, and features a rotating roster of agency guests. Howcroft, head of the agency George Patterson Y&R, is a seasoned media performer, having appeared regularly on radio for a decade. And the laconic, Canadian-born Sampson, chief executive of the agency Leo Burnett, has become a star.”
“The show was created by Andrew Denton’s production company, Zapruder’s Other Films, with former Fairfax journalist Jon Casimir, who wondered why an industry worth $500 billion a year globally was not examined more. ”I come from a family that taught me to question everything,” Casimir says. ”I’m contrary in nature and I don’t really like being told what to do. It seemed obvious that this show should exist.”
“Denton pitched Gruen to Anderson as a show that gave people the skills to understand the advertising industry, as Frontline did for current affairs shows. ”I thought it was a good idea,” Anderson says. ”But then I thought, ‘A show about ads on the ABC … already weird. And with advertising executives … hmmm. Maybe it would get a Q&A-type audience.”’
“Anderson, Howcroft and Sampson have become a formidable trio. When it was decided to expand Gruen last year for four episodes centred on the federal election, the ad execs stayed. Casimir says politics has become a subset of advertising. ”We no longer have a political scene, just a system relating to advertising – whether staying on message or controlling branding and positioning. We don’t have government any more, it’s simply 365 days of electioneering.”
”Because there was nothing in that election but spin, we had the perfect tools to unpick it,” Casimir says.
”It’s part of the broader world of communication,” Howcroft says. ”Within the corporations Todd and I work with, there [are] groups dealing with public relations, corporate affairs, design, research and media. However, the techniques used in PR and damage control compared with persuading consumers to buy a product are not much different. ”They are the exact same ones,” Sampson says. ”The difference is, the topics will change. Persuasion is persuasion.”
“A glance at the calendar reveals other subjects to be potentially scrutinised by Planet: President Barack Obama’s November visit, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Tiger Woods and McHappy Day.
‘This is a creative business,” Sampson says. ”As fast as we think through the techniques being used, new ones are being developed to replace them. That is our job. ”Every day we are learning better ways to persuade people.”
Gruen Planet airs Wednesday night on ABC1.
Theage.com reporting on the shows main characters and potential subject matter. We wish Gruen Planet the best of luck with their new show and we hope to hear more about how covert persuasion is used in politics and advertising.
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