The world's in a spin and Gruen's back to make sense of it

Host Wil Anderson returns for season nine of Gruen.
Host Wil Anderson returns for season nine of Gruen. Andreas Smetana

OVER the past nine years, Gruen has grown from the show with the funny name to one of the ABC's most successful titles.

The popular panel series, which reveals the dark arts of advertising, branding and spin, returns to our screens for its ninth season- and that's not even counting Gruen's spin-offs Gruen Nation and Gruen Sweat.

"There have been so many different version of the show, whether it be the original Gruen Transfer or the different ones around politics and Olympics. What the show has really become over the last few years is all of those things encompassed in one show," host Wil Anderson says.

"It's a prism through which we can look at the world now. It's not a show about advertising, but it uses advertising as a lens to explain the world."

Gruen is now a ratings juggernaut for Aunty. Last year's season finale out-rated both The Bachelorette and The X Factor.

Gruen's Todd Sampson, Wil Anderson and Russel Howcroft are set for another season on the panel.
Gruen's Todd Sampson, Wil Anderson and Russel Howcroft are set for another season on the panel. Contributed

As the worlds of advertising and marketing have evolved over the past decade so has the show, which was originally named The Gruen Transfer after the term for designed disorientation cues in retail environments.

"Advertising and marketing are so entwined with our lives now," Wil says.

"The leader of the free world started his Presidential campaign as a branding campaign.

"Ads on your phone know more about you than you know about yourself. I think our show is more relevant today than it ever has been."

Wil and regular panelists Todd Sampson and Russel Howcroft have become known for their witty banter and insider knowledge.

"You don't just work on the show while you're working on the show," Wil says.

"No matter what else I'm doing, if there's something in the paper or I'm at some function and I hear people talking about something then these things go into a file you keep. We all come into meetings with dozens of ideas."

Wil says the team isn't afraid to chop and change segments - as long as the panel discussion remains at the core of the show.

"This season you might see less clutter in the show, and more room for our experts to be experts," he says.

The beloved Pitch, where two firms create fictitious ads based on a timely but bogus brief, is here to stay and Wil says the 2017 season kicks off with a whopper.

"The first one is a campaign to get North Korea to not aim their bombs at us," he says.

While the threat of nuclear war is an unpleasant one, it's great fodder for Gruen.

"When you look at it through the prism of marketing, it's a multi-billion industry," Wil says.

"The big things you fight wars with have to come from somewhere - that means they're being sold. How do you buy one over the other? With that much money there's someone in there selling you one thing over the other. How do you lock in those contracts?

"Once you start looking at the world through that Gruen prism it's hard to stop."

Gruen returns to the ABC tonight at 8.30pm.

Topics:  abc tv gruen russel howcroft television todd sampson wil anderson

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