The Gruen Transfer: The paradoxical ritual of advertisers exposing advertising

Nicholas Carah, Sven Brodmerkel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Popular representations of the advertising industry are marked by both celebrations of its creativity and criticisms of its manipulative or ideological role in the consumer society. One long-standing aspect of this ambivalence is the creation and popularity of ‘confessional’ accounts published by the industry’s leading practitioners. The highly successful Australian television programme The Gruen Transfer is a contemporary articulation of advertising professionals offering an ‘insider’ view and critique of advertising to the public. This article critically examines the first three seasons (2008–2010) of The Gruen Transfer in order to analyse how advertising professionals on the programme offer the public the opportunity to understand how advertising ‘works on them’. We analyse the practices of ‘exposing’ advertising The Gruen Transfer panellists employ and consider how these practices of exposure are part of the work of managing advertising. We argue that the panellists’ narrative of exposure celebrates rather than critiques the role of advertising in society. By claiming the space where such a debate might be facilitated The Gruen Transfer stabilizes advertising as a mechanism for creating brand value.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)345-360
Number of pages16
JournalInteraction: Studies in Communication and Culture
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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