Sam Delaney – Mad Men and Bad Men

Sam Delaney’s book takes us to the heart of the people charged with selling the policies of the politicans to the people. He goes deep into the world where firms are recruited to not only sell their brand but also help advise them on their future policies.

The most prominent of these is Saatchi & Saatchi, who created sharp, simplistic yet effective campaigns that hit the spot and caused significant damage. They kept the Conservative party in check and made sure they kept beating the drum about a few key issues rather than jsut jumping on the latest issue of the day. This will be familiar to followers of the recent election who would’ve heard the same soundbites repeated over and over again by politicians on our airwaves and television.

Delaney gets excellent access to the key players across the majre parties, with Labour cagey for a long time about getting into bed with advertising people initially. Peter Mandelson had a huge influence in changing this view and the book takes us through the advertising campaigns that helped New Labour in their quest for power.

Delaney questions exactly how much impact advertising can have as lots of people know who they’re going to vote for. The parties are really targeting a small percentage of undecided voters and trying to tip them in a certain direction. There’s questions over the accuracy of polls, again something that holds today after the disastrous polling ahead of the most recent election.

This is a fine account of how we fell into this world where spin doctors are able to control the direction of a party through giving them advice on what they feel will sway the public in a certain direction. It’s an accessible read that provides decent insight into the changed politics of this generation.

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