Although the pandemic upended publishers’ carefully laid marketing plans for 2020, it also left consumers eager for the distraction of books, and spending more time online than ever. These ten campaigns capitalised on that, finding new ways to reach readers. In-person marketing will return in due course, but teams have learned some valuable new digital tricks about building awareness and making connections.
Matt Clacher, Lindsay Terrell & Olivia Marsden for The Mirror & the Light
Waterstones’ James Daunt described the release of Hilary Mantel’s The Mirror and the Light as “the literary event of our bookselling careers”. In one way, such anticipation made the book’s success inevitable — but it also piled enormous pressure on Fourth Estate to deliver a publication that fitted the occasion.
The marketing team of Matt Clacher, Lindsay Terrell and Olivia Marsden did so by making the release not just a literary event, but a cultural landmark for the UK. It started well over a year out from release, and took cues from major-league entertainment marketing in activations such as a billboard teaser in Leicester Square and a projection of the cover onto the Tower of London on the eve of publication.
Retail activity included backlist promotions, a new “reader’s guide” to Mantel, a blizzard of point-of sale material and a Waterstones gift card to get people buying the book as a Christmas present. Not even the lockdown, and closure of bookshops just after release, could stop the marketing juggernaut, as Fourth Estate doubled down on social media, online ads, influencer targeting and many more digital elements of the strategy.
The result? More than 50,000 pre-orders, well over a quarter of a million UK hardback sales across the year, and over half a million in all of Fourth Estate’s markets. The Mirror and the Light was still in the top 10 six months after release, and the previous two books in Mantel’s trilogy added nearly 200,000 further units to the tally.
“It was a note-perfect campaign… stylish, focused and a masterclass in marketing,” said the award’s judges. “It turned publication into an event that other publishers will be trying to emulate for years, and kept the sales momentum going brilliantly despite the pandemic.”
Georgia Taylor & Ellie Hudson for The Thursday Murder ClubPenguin General
Amelia Fairney & Rose Poole for A Promised LandPenguin General
Matt Clacher, Lindsay Terrell & Olivia Marsden for The Mirror & the LightHarperCollins
Joanna Rose, Janet Aspey & Jen Callahan-Packer for SkincareHQ
Tom Noble & Lucy Cameron for A Song for the Dark TimesOrion
Alice Shortland, Vicki Watson and Alan Trotter for The Midnight LibraryCanongate
Amy Fulwood for Kim Ji-Young, Born 1982Simon & Schuster
Joanna Olney & Stevie Hopwood for The Super Miraculous Journey of Freddie YatesUsborne
Kate Neilan for The Roasting Tin Around The WorldVintage
Jessie Sullivan for E-book Lockdown PromotionHead of Zeus