The Gruen Transfer by Jon Casimir

In a nutshell… the TV in book format – or, how they try to sell us stuff.

Strengths: You may not be as hooked by advertising.

Weaknesses: Even though you know the advertising principles, you’ll still buy the stuff.

Why I read it: my Dad’s Christmas present. From me.

Pages: 288

Published: 2010

Publisher: ABC Books

Rating: 8.5 out of 10

If you liked this, try: The Truth About the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to Do About It
by Marcia Angell

For those who are unaware, The Gruen Transfer is an Australian TV show about advertising – particularly ironic, as it’s shown on a non-commercial station. The show tells us about all the tips and tricks advertisers use to get the unsuspecting public to buy things they don’t really need. It also consists of trying to advertise difficult things (eg. Australian invasion of New Zealand) and weird ads from around the world.

As my family enjoyed the TV show, I bought this book for my dad for Christmas. When he still hadn’t read it halfway through 2011, I decided to borrow it. (He would like it if he opened it. He’s more likely to use this book as something to lean on at present). This book is just as interesting as the TV show – although I think they may overlap on ideas in some places, I think I recall some discussion on some topics. Set in the course of a normal working day, this book takes the reader through the types of advertising you’re likely to see when getting up, eating, working and relaxing. The average person will see thousands of brand names in any given day. (Look around you now if you don’t believe me – look at your monitor’s brand, phone brand, tablet brand – and the list grows). The book explains how advertisers try to sell you things – from banks (yes, they know they’re a boring necessity) to food (glue is a common substitute for milk in cereal ads) to weight loss (the before and after pictures contain several extra differences). It also contains a section on anti-advertising as well as interviews with various ‘ad people’.

I found this book very interesting and I did try not to be sucked in by advertising, but I think it’s very, very difficult in this day and age. (Although, I will never be taken in by a delicious looking ice cream – it’s probably mashed potato). While I read this book cover to cover, it could also be read in any order as each time period of the day contains an unrelated topic. A good read for those interested in advertising and how it’s sold to the consumer.

3 thoughts on “The Gruen Transfer by Jon Casimir

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  1. I wasn’t aware of the t.v. show, but this book sounds really interesting to me; I love reading non-fiction like this. Thanks for highlighting it, I’m off to see if I can find it here.

    I doubt that the book will stop me from falling prey to the tricks, but it’s sort of nice to know what they are anyway 🙂

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