Book a new spin on pro­pa­ganda

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By JESS LEE

If you have ever pon­dered how pro­pa­ganda can per­me­ate your thoughts, feel­ings and be­hav­iour then Nick McFar­lane may just hold the an­swers.

The Pt Chevalier graphic de­signer has cre­ated a be­gin­ners’ guide to pro­pa­ganda told in 10 sim­ple steps. His book, Spin­flu­ence: The Hard­core Pro­pa­ganda Man­ual for Con­trol­ling the Masses, con­tains ev­ery­thing you will ever need to know about spin­ning the truth and ma­nip­u­la­tion.

The story is told from the point of view of a pro­pa­ganda agent in­tent on pass­ing on his wis­dom about the art of emo­tional hi­jack­ing.

Writ­ten and il­lus­trated over the course of eight years, start­ing out in Lon­don against a back­drop of war and protests and end­ing in Auck­land, Mr McFar­lane says the book’s satir­i­cal tone should leave read­ers won­der­ing who to be­lieve.

Mr McFar­lane is a se­nior de­signer at an Auck­land ad­ver­tis­ing agency where he has worked on many award-win­ning cam­paigns.

Ad­ver­tis­ing and pro­pa­ganda are like ying and yang, he says.

‘‘They’re the same but dif­fer­ent – you do learn a lot about pro­pa­ganda tech­niques through ad­ver­tis­ing so I was able to ap­ply some of those learn­ings to the book.’’

Mr McFar­lane says he has al­ways held an in­ter­est in the vis­ual side of pro­pa­ganda, within graf­fiti and posters, but it wasn’t un­til mov­ing to Lon­don that he started to delve into the the­ory be­hind it.

‘‘I was sus­pi­cious that th­ese things were go­ing on but you need re­search and facts to back up what you’re think­ing.

‘‘It feels kind of heavy say­ing pro­pa­ganda but it’s a fact of life – it’s used by politi­cians, gov­ern­ments and cor­po­ra­tions every­where.’’

Emo­tive head­lines along with cor- po­rate and govern­ment spin doc­tors all work to in­flu­ence our thoughts, feel­ings and be­hav­iour, he says.

And the most sur­pris­ing thing is we don’t even no­tice it.

‘‘It is ac­tu­ally every­where. We get a con­stant stream of pro­pa­ganda mes­sages to us, there­fore it’s just kind of ac­cepted.’’

The book has been in­cluded in the Pro­pa­ganda: Power and Per­sua­sion ex­hi­bi­tion show­ing at the Bri­tish Li­brary in Lon­don. Mr McFar­lane hopes the book will cre­ate aware­ness about pro­pa­ganda.

Photo: JA­SON OXENHAM

Spread­ing the word: Nick McFar­lane is delv­ing into the ‘‘dark and twisted’’ world of pro­pa­ganda in his new book Spin­flu­ence.

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