BOOKS

New Zealand Marketing - - Shorts -

BAB­BLE by CHARLES SAATCHI, BOOTH CLIBBORNS, $25 re­viewed by KELLY BEN­NETT

The Spec­ta­tor sug­gests this col­lec­tion of short es­says on a di­verse range of sub­jects in­clud­ing art, busi­ness, mar­riage and marathons is “in­fin­itely more read­able than 99 per­cent of books by pil­lars of the busi­ness com­mu­nity”. And I couldn’t agree more.

I found it be an in­sight­ful, hu­mor­ous, poignant and de­lib­er­ately provoca­tive col­lec­tion of mus­ings by the one time king of ad­ver­tis­ing and hus­band of Nigella Law­son.

Most of us know the story well by now. Mau­rice and his brother Charles launch Saatchi & Saatchi with a ground-break­ing long copy ad­ver­tise­ment, pro­duce stun­ning work for the Health Ed­u­ca­tion Coun­cil and the Labour Party (“Bri­tain isn’t Work­ing”) and then go on to con­quer the world. Decades later, over-bur­dened with debt and strug­gling to main­tain in­ter­est in and con­trol of the busi­ness, Charles shifts his at­ten­tion to dis­rupt­ing the art world and sets up his own epony­mous gallery.

So what do you do in your twi­light years? The an­swer, it seems, is sim­ply to pro­duce a book that is a must-read for any­one with even the re­motest in­ter­est in com­mu­ni­ca­tions, art and com­merce.

In­cluded amongst his sub­jects are head­lines such as ‘Be­ing thick is no ob­sta­cle to be­ing a suc­cess­ful artist’, ‘ The hideous­ness of the art world’, ‘So­cial­is­ing for party duds’ and ‘If it can’t be ex­plained by sci­ence, try a séance’. It’s a vastly su­pe­rior fol­low up to his ear­lier ef­forts and is burst­ing with cracker quotes like “for the true en­tre­pre­neur, striv­ing for suc­cess isn’t busi­ness. It’s just per­sonal. And re­mem­ber, you never learn any­thing by do­ing it right.”

Some of the jokes fall flat and he ob­vi­ously has the at­ten­tion span of a kid on Ri­talin, but those are mi­nor quib­bles. The truth is I read it from cover to cover over two nights with a cup of tea and a blan­ket and felt in­fin­itely bet­ter for it.

SPIN­FLU­ENCE: THE HARD­CORE PRO­PA­GANDA MAN­UAL FOR CON­TROL­LING THE MASSES by NICK MCFARLANE, WOLF & CO, $35 re­viewed by SIM AHMED

I wasn’t a fan of Draft­FCB de­signer Nick McFarlane’s cam­paign ear­lier this year to pro­mote his new book. If you’re try­ing to pro­mote a ‘hard­core pro­pa­ganda man­ual’ by us­ing pro­pa­ganda to trick the me­dia then it pays to make sure it works. It didn’t and it sim­ply re­flected poorly on the work, which is a shame be­cause the book he was pro­mot­ing is an in­cred­i­bly well-de­signed vis­ual jour­ney and a hoot to read.

McFarlane says he spent eight years de­sign­ing, writ­ing and re­search­ing Spin­flu­ence be­fore he found art book com­pany Wolf & Co to pub­lish it. The in­spi­ra­tion goes back to McFarlane’s youth, which co­in­cided with the US invasion of Iraq and the me­dia ma­nip­u­la­tion that sur­rounded it.

Spin­flu­ence is a pic­ture book for cyn­i­cal grown ups—and I say that as a com­pli­ment. Each page is beau­ti­fully il­lus­trated with McFarlane’s in­tri­cate de­signs and in­cor­po­rates a theme or idea around pro­pa­ganda and me­dia. Read­ing the book, with its high-grade pa­per stock and gor­geous im­agery, you’d al­most be for­given for rip­ping out the pages and us­ing them as mini-posters.

It won’t win any awards for ground­break­ing re­search or insight into pro­pa­ganda, but it’s a great kick­starter for con­ver­sa­tions on how cor­po­ra­tions and gov­ern­ments use me­dia to ma­nip­u­late the masses.

I rec­om­mend it as a gift book for that young and dif­fi­cult-to-buy-for me­dia geek or an­ar­chist in your life. Hell, you could even buy it for the of­fice as some­thing to look at when you’re short of ideas for your next pitch.

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