Book review: Promoting Prosperity

A journey through the things Kiwis cared about then and now - rugby beer, the quarter acre home, health, war, cars and great scenery.

Promoting Prosperity by Peter Alsop and Gary Stewart
Craig Potton Publishing, $79.99

book review promoting prosperity peter alsop gary stewart​Peter Alsop, Gary Stewart and their collaborators on this book are supremely qualified to make the case for the standing ad pioneers should command in Kiwi art history.

Alsop, an art and Kiwiana collector, and Stewart, a designer with a track record in business branding, are two thirds of the team behind Selling the Dream: The Art of Early New Zealand Tourism, a finalist in the illustrated non-fiction category at this year’s New Zealand Post Book Awards.

The artwork is equally up to making that case in the author and designer’s second foray — each image is worthy of a book cover or at least the full gloss page or double page they’re afforded.

The challenge, then, is to find words for a book where pictures could easily do the talking. That is met in 11 essays, each with a different perspective on how promotional art up until the 1960s helped us become a richer nation.

Writer/historian Ian F. Grant sets the scene with a uniquely insightful timeline and Dick Frizzell’s personal look back is a compelling yarn about going with your gut over market research. The rest is a journey through the things Kiwis cared about then and now — rugby, beer, the quarter acre home, health, war, cars and great scenery.

The end notes, which refer to a vast range of publications and people, are evidence of the lengths the creators have gone to in filling a gap in a niche area.