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  • Writer's pictureNicholas J Johnson

Episode 18 – Keeping The Bastards Dishonest with Dee Madigan

Dee Madigan is an advertising creative and political campaigner who spends her days selling politicians to the public and her nights revealing the secrets of advertising on television shows like the Gruen Transfer and in books like the Hard Sell. On this week’s episode, Dee explains the techniques campaigns uses to sell us politicians and their policies.

I’ve attended a few political events in my time. I was once hired to be the hands and torso of Dennis Napthine when he was running for re-election in Victoria in 2014. My job was to show that he was untrustworthy in a series of ham-fisted metaphors for a political advertisement.

I also once got detained by the police at a political fundraiser back in 2013 for trying to bring a hammer and nail into Parliament House. The organisers hadn’t told them they’d booked a magician nor had they told me it was a political event when they booked me. It was a confusing experience for all.

Talking to Dee in this week’s episode, I got the impression that advertisers are very similar to magicians. They both use deception and showmanship to create an emotional response in their audiences. In both cases, they justify their trickery by saying that the audience knows they are being deceived.

Both magicians and advertisers rely on their audiences being willing participants. You showed up for the magic show, you switched on the television, you registered to vote. You knew what you were getting in for.

Maybe I should run for office…

Nicholas J. Johnson is a Melbourne magician, author, entertainer and collector of scams.


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