The Hidden Persuaders is a dark comedy.
Max Galli is a partner in a small Milanese advertising agency teetering on the verge of bankruptcy, the victim of the difficult economic climate and highly aggressive competition from the big international networks.
Despite this, he continues to live the high life – as he always has done.
He ignores the warnings of his business partner Piero Benetti, who is very worried about the crisis gripping their company. Their revenue is virtually nothing, while lenders are exerting more and more pressure to get their hands on their repayments.
Yet Galli has unshakeable confidence in himself and in his ability to bounce back and return to the top, so rather than carry out a spending review, he simply turns a blind eye to the harsh reality of impending bankruptcy and fritters away the last of the agency’s financial resources at slot machines and in betting shops.
Inevitably, Galli gets into debt with Tom Capobuono, a small-time Mafia boss from Buccinasco responsible for managing various betting shops in Milan. When the banks withdraw all of the agency’s funding, the circumstances force Galli to convince his business partner – who is as yet unaware of the nature of Galli’s debts – to sell his majority stake in the agency to the Mafia in order to ward off bankruptcy and closure.
In buying the advertising agency, the Mafia discover a new way of laundering their dirty money. From their side, Galli and Benetti not only save themselves from financial ruin, but also become part of a powerful international network – albeit an unorthodox one run by the Mafia. Yet what none of the three protagonists can predict is which of the two worlds will have a bigger influence on the other. Which of the two worlds – Mafia and marketing – will reveal itself to be the cruellest? Will the cynicism of marketing or the crude violence of the Mafia come out on top? Only one thing is for certain: this partnership will change the world of Italian advertising forever!