The Gruen Transfer (ABC TV) Review

The Gruen Transfer is a popular series on ABC1 TV. ABC TV commissioned a second series of The Gruen Transfer from Zapruder’s other films after the first series averaged ratings of 1.2 million people each week, with an excess of over 100,000 downloads and streams on the website. The new series will go into production in Feb 2009

Executive producers Andrew Denton & Anita Jacoby have created a fast, funny show about advertising that will make you look differently at the constructed world around you. It’s not an expose. It’s not a satire. It’s about truth in advertising. Finally.

The panel-based program hosted by Wil Anderson asks ad executives to explain the thinking behind their work and to share industry secrets.

Asked if the show would be a humourless exercise in industry-bashing, executive producer Andrew Denton said “The Gruen Transfer is not so black and white. It’s not about whether advertising is good or evil. What we’re interested in is simple: how advertising works and what it says about us. I’ve always thought that advertising is an amazing and complex world. It deserves more attention than it usually gets from television, which is the ‘World’s Wackiest Commercials’ approach.”

In a cunning move which generated a lot of publicity for the show, ABC TV aired a series of fake ads for Gruen Beer, Gruen Anti Aging Cream and Gruen bank (see video at right) which tricked a lot of viewers into thinking the ABC was starting to raise revenue by running ads

The show’s name “Gruen Transfer” refers to the moment when a “destination buyer”, with a specific purchase in mind, is transformed into an impulse shopper, a crucial point immediately visible in the shift from a determined stride to an erratic and meandering gait.

The Gruen Transfer is named after Victor Gruen, Austrian architect credited for designing the modern shopping mall.

We used to know what advertising was. It was that stuff in the margins, in the ad breaks. But in recent years, it has begun colonising every space it can. US ad wizard Mark Fenske, the guy behind the Nike campaigns, calls advertising “maybe the most powerful art form on Earth”.

And the Earth ain’t the end of it. Not so long ago, Pizza Hut stamped its logo on a rocket to the moon. Earlier this year, Doritos announced it would beam its ads into space.

We all think we’re immune to advertising, that we’re smarter than the marketers, but can you honestly say you know why you buy one brand of detergent and not another?

As you walk the aisles of the supermarket, how many of the purchasing choices you make are consciously your own? And if you can be persuaded, without realising, to buy the orange dish washing liquid, what else can you be persuaded to do? Advertising: you know you’re soaking in it.

Like the 1st series of Gruen Transfer recordings of series 2 will be on Wednesday nights @ appx 6:45pm from February 25th to 29th April. Tickets are free but you have to book them in advance. Audience members must be 16 and over and recordings will last for approximately 2 hours.

If you do get tickets remember that no food or drink is allowed in the ABC TV studios so eat dinner beforehand, mobile phones must be switched off once inside and the studio can also get quite cold, so wear something warm.

5 thoughts on “The Gruen Transfer (ABC TV) Review”

  1. These are my notes from being in the studio audience:

    * Wil was really nervous and twitchy, perhaps because the 1st episode was going to air on TV tonight just after the 5th episode was recorded

    * Wil really beat himself up saying f**k and f**king many times when he made mistakes

    * In a nice bonus Wil’s MMM radio co-host Anthony “Lehmo” Lehmann was the audience warmup guy and he was quite funny

    * The set was OK but nothing exciting and strangely the left half of the set with a lounge and coffee table wasn’t used at all.

    * Advertising industry experts on the panel included Russel Howcroft who was previously a regular guest on 702 ABC Sydney’s morning radio program and Todd Sampson CEO of Leo Burnett

  2. Thank god you are back wife is happier now great show love your work.
    ??? wife wants to know which Gruen was it Victor of shopping mall fame or Fred the Aussie economist died 1997 that the shows name comes from??? Please help.

    EDITOR: The Gruen Transfer is named after Victor Gruen, the guy who designed the very first shopping mall. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gruen_transfer

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