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.