A trade-wide promotion that celebrates books and bookshops is to launch in September, backed by both the Booksellers Association and the Publishers Association. The slogan, to be officially unveiled at this year’s London Book Fair, is “Books Are My Bag”.
The campaign has been created by strategy firm M & C Saatchi, with the slogan featuring on cloth bags which will be available in both chains and independent bookshops.
Celebrities will be pictured with the bag to “crystallise and strengthen the link between a passion for books and bookshops”. The campaign will be rolled out on Saturday 14th September, and has already won the backing of Waterstones, W H Smith, Eason and Foyles, as well as publishers including Hachette, Penguin, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster and Random House.
The idea for the promotion came via former Booksellers Association president Jane Streeter and Random House chair and chief executive Gail Rebuck, who 18 months ago published Maurice Saatchi’s Brutal Simplicity of Thought. Rebuck co-opted Saatchi to work pro bono in return for connecting the campaign back to the next iteration of his book.
Rebuck said M & C Saatchi was renowned for taking complex issues and boiling them down to their essential element, and added that previous trade-wide campaigns had been hampered by not having an “overarching theme”. She said: “There have been other campaigns, and they were all good in their way, but M & C Saatchi thought they weren’t joined up, and never really heard in quite the way we’d wanted. They tended to disappear like vapour.”
M & C Saatchi was also clear about the wrong approach—a “poor me” campaign that asked for some kind of charitable support for bookshops. Instead the promotion will focus on the competitive advantage bookshops have at their heart, with the “brand truth” that readers have a passion for books, and bookshops do more to let them enjoy that passion.
Celebrities will be used to drive publicity for the campaign, with all authors attending LBF to be photographed with a bag. “The bag will create the buzz,” said Rebuck, with an element of “stylish rarity”. James Lowther, founding partner and creative head at M & C Saatchi, added that the bag would express the message: “I use bookshops because I value them. And I want it to stay that way.”
An initial run of bags will be provided to booksellers free of charge, funded by the trade, with new bags supplied at a cost. Bookshops can choose to have their own logo or name printed on them to localise the campaign.
Patrick Neale, president of the BA, said: “What Books Are My Bag captures and celebrates is the physical . . . The media thing is that bookshops are really just for technologically incompetent, and if I look at my shop on any day that isn’t the case. It’s almost a campaign to the media that bookshops are really buzzy places.”
Tim Godfray, chief executive of the BA, added: “There is so much goodwill for this campaign. It is the high street fighting back.”
Backed by website www.booksaremybag.com, the campaign will continue to run beyond Christmas if bookshops wish to carry on. Neale, Rebuck and Lord Saatchi will all give presentations at the trade launch at LBF on 16th April.
The second edition of Saatchi’s Brutal Simplicity of Thought, a £7 smaller-format hardback, also launches in September.