You should never judge a book by its cover, but Ron Nixon’s Selling Apartheid is a forgiveable exception. Perhaps years of evolutionary marketing exercises have ingrained popular tastes for the familiar branding of the iconic Coca-Cola logo, but you can’t help but smile at the cover’s playful use of red and white, and the classic Coke font and curving swish.
The mashup of Andy Warhol’s consumerist pop art and classic Russian propaganda aesthetic is spot-on considering the premise of Nixon’s book, which tells the story of the apartheid propaganda campaign “run with military precision, which involved a worldwide network of supporters, including global corporations with business operations in South Africa, conservative religious organisations and an unlikely coalition of liberal US black clergy and anticommunist black conservatives aligned with right wing Cold War politicians”.
Published by Jacana Media and designed in-house, it’s an eye-catching piece of work that should fly off the shelves like Coca-Cola has for the past 130 years.
Publishing director Maggie Davey and designer Shawn Paikin from Jacana wanted to express “the dark arts of marketing”, and they have succeeded.
“A book cover is a marketing tool,” Davey told #Trending. “It has to work well enough to make a person pick it up, flip it around and read the back cover – and then, hopefully, buy the book.”
ADDING LIFE Ron Nixon’s latest novel looks at the tactics employed by apartheid propaganda