The Hard Sell

A quickie read of a book that's been floating round our house for months -- I think Michael picked it up on sale somewhere on the strength of seeing Dee Madigan on The Gruen Transfer, where she is consistently smart and funny.

This slim book is likewise smart and funny, a brisk primer on the art and business of election advertising, quite timely given that we've just emerged from the fog of the longest election campaign in history. Written in 2014, it contains lots of stories about the 2013 election but obviously wasn't quite up to date with the very latest developments -- Tony Abbott was still PM at the time of publication. It was enlightening to hear the rationale behind a lot of decisions that have mystified me - for example, why do parties run candidates in seats they have no hope of winning? One reason is that the party's Senate candidate can piggy-back off the local candidate, and benefit from their how-to-vote cards and general visibility. There were many amusing anecdotes, like the one about PM John Howard insisting on a particular ad (about the benefits of the GST!), even though the polling showed it wouldn't work. They duly made and ran the ad -- but only in the parts of the country where the PM happened to be campaigning at the time.

A quick but enjoyable, and dare I say, educational read.

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