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Gruen (2018) (ATOM Study Guide)

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Gruen is a key tool in helping viewers understand how we are all manipulated by brands into spending money with them. We are facing an increasing onslaught of marketing – some of it becoming ever more personally targeted. Perhaps we need to realise that fact and ask 'why?'.

Gruen returns for another series to find out why we buy what we buy. And why the ads on the side of our internet browser want us to buy more. The panel of experts return to deconstruct our vast advertising landscape which gets more freakishly sophisticated every year.

The Gruen franchise was born in 2008, and at the time it focused purely on advertising. Over its various incarnations (including series based around the Olympic games and federal election campaigns), what we have learned is that marketing is ever becoming more complex than simple advertising. We are now being sold to at every turn. Since Gruen's inception the traditional advertising channels of television, radio and print have been joined by a tsunami of digital marketing and communication.

We are marketed to online and through social media, via traditional advertising, PR and a whole new range of persuasive efforts by brands, companies and government. More and more brands and companies compete for 'earned media exposure' through the news. Our research into all these aspects of the marketing world is complex and each conversation is extensively workshopped.

Our host and co-executive producer, Wil Anderson, oversees a line-up that includes permanent panelists Russel Howcroft and Todd Sampson as well as guest professionals from the world of communications and advertising. Our guest panelists range from creative directors and agency owners to brand strategy experts and behavioural psychologists. Along with the observations of Russel and Todd, their insights into a particular topic are key to unwrapping the workings behind the consumer experience and the behaviour of the corporate world.

Gruen endeavours to dissect the ways marketers target us through detailed analytical discussion of a single issue. Indeed, the more focused the discussion, the more satisfying we have found those conversations. Questions we should all ask ourselves could be:

  • Why is a campaign framed in a particular way?
  • What are the strategies behind the casting of an ad?
  • What was the outcome the brand was expecting and could it have been better achieved?
  • How much work goes into making a successful campaign look so simple?
  • What should a brand do in PR terms when something goes wrong? On Gruen, we look at the positive and negative examples of these and many more questions.

We have selected three episodes from the season which cover a broad range of issues.

Curriculum Links:

This study guide is aimed at middle and upper secondary school levels, with relevance to the following subject areas:

  • English
  • Media Arts
  • Visual Arts
  • Ethics
  • Philosophy 
  • Business Management
  • Psychology

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