Book a new spin on propaganda

17:00, May 23 2013
Nick McFarlane
SPREADING THE WORD: Nick McFarlane is delving into the ‘‘dark and twisted’’ world of propaganda in his new book

If you have ever pondered how propaganda can permeate your thoughts, feelings and behaviour then Nick McFarlane may just hold the answers.

The Pt Chevalier graphic designer has created a beginners' guide to propaganda told in 10 simple steps. His book, Spinfluence: The Hardcore Propaganda Manual for Controlling the Masses, contains everything you will ever need to know about spinning the truth and manipulation.

The story is told from the point of view of a propaganda agent intent on passing on his wisdom about the art of emotional hijacking.

Written and illustrated over the course of eight years, starting out in London against a backdrop of war and protests and ending in Auckland, Mr McFarlane says the book's satirical tone should leave readers wondering who to believe.

Mr McFarlane is a senior designer at an Auckland advertising agency where he has worked on many award-winning campaigns.

Advertising and propaganda are like ying and yang, he says.


"They're the same but different - you do learn a lot about propaganda techniques through advertising so I was able to apply some of those learnings to the book."

Mr McFarlane says he has always held an interest in the visual side of propaganda, within graffiti and posters, but it wasn't until moving to London that he started to delve into the theory behind it.

"I was suspicious that these things were going on but you need research and facts to back up what you're thinking.

"It feels kind of heavy saying propaganda but it's a fact of life - it's used by politicians, governments and corporations everywhere."

Emotive headlines along with corporate and government spin doctors all work to influence our thoughts, feelings and behaviour, he says.

And the most surprising thing is we don't even notice it.

"It is actually everywhere. We get a constant stream of propaganda messages to us, therefore it's just kind of accepted."

The book has been included in the Propaganda: Power and Persuasion exhibition showing at the British Library in London. Mr McFarlane hopes the book will create awareness about propaganda.

Auckland City Harbour News