With Paula Hawkins' Into the Water flying high in the bestseller charts, Transworld’s Julia Teece and Alison Barrow explain the obstacles and opportunities of the title’s launch.
What were the objectives, and how did they translate into a strategy?
The whole campaign was about creating awareness around the release of Into the Water, and making it the book everyone is talking about. From a publicity perspective we wanted to secure the widest-reaching media coverage, reminding readers how much they loved The Girl on the Train, while putting energy behind building awareness of Paula Hawkins herself, confirming her as a relevant voice in the literary landscape.
For marketing, we ran a long digital and physical build-up campaign to create excitement and pre-orders. On publication we used eye-catching, high-impact advertising formats across out-of-home and digital; for in-store impact we created branded and unusual point of sale, such as floor stickers, to draw attention in a crowded environment. Post-publication, our objectives shifted towards sustaining that interest.
How did you develop the creative?
The cover, created by our art director, used ripples of water which became central to our creatives, from the video trailer to GIFs, Transvision screens at railways stations and intriguing social share cards.
Our copy line was chosen after testing different options through our PRH Consumer Insight team. We had two lines that gave different messages; the readers chose “secrets can pull you under”. Mentioning The Girl on the Train was vital, and it was a big win to lock in a major interview and extract in [Mail on Sunday magazine] Event on the Bank Holiday weekend, alongside a comprehensive national media blitz.
Into the Water on the screens at Waterloo Station.
What were the fundamental pillars of the campaign?
For PR, it was a burst of media on publication, a brief but focused tour of bookshops and events, and then a sustained programme of events and media. For marketing, it started with the publication’s announcement, which received a huge amount of interest, then digital pre-awareness, a burst of activity on publication, sustained media, and forward-planning for summer reading, autumn and Christmas promotions.
What were the barriers to success?
It was, for us, uncharted territory to follow up a monumental bestseller like The Girl on the Train, and it was key to think about the coverage that would let Into the Water shine on its own. It’s a different novel: bolder, layered, nuanced. This time there was a major international release date and embargoes... Communication and collaboration were essential.
How closely did marketing and publicity work on this?
Very! We had weekly strategy meetings to ensure we were all aligned across UK and international sales, marketing, publicity and editorial, and complementing the work of each area to maximise all opportunities. We have daily check-ins to monitor reaction and reach.
Have you reached your objectives?
We’re thrilled with the results - we can’t relax, though. We’ll keep the story evolving, listen to feedback and mobilise new initiatives throughout the year.