Vintage is marking paperback publication of Margaret Atwood's The Testaments with an innovative campaign that sees pro-Gilead posters defaced with anti-Gilead slogans over several days.
A series of posters have gone up in Stoke Newington and Walthamstow, London, promoting the Republic of Gilead, the fictional totalitarian territory, formerly part of the US, that Atwood created in The Handmaid’s Tale and its sequel, where women’s rights have been severely comprised amid global climate devastation.
The posters echo brochures used as recruitment tools for Gilead in The Testaments, promising “there is a home for you in Gilead” and featuring the infamous greeting “under his eye”.
Over a two-week period, the posters will be gradually vandalised with “Justice for Gilead women” and “Gilead is rotting!” messages that feature in The Testaments.
The outdoor advertising is accompanied by social media campaign to reach readers across the world. It was conceived by Chloe Healy, Rosanna Boscawen and Sophie Painter at Vintage, part of Penguin Random House, in collaboration with JackArts. It features artwork designed by Amy Lines. The original jacket artwork was designed by Noma Bar and Suzanne Dean, creative director at Vintage.
The team explained: “In The Testaments, Aunt Lydia’s Pearl Girls go out from Gilead as missionaries, spreading the ‘good news’ of the regime. They’re such creepy characters, and we liked the idea of bringing their propaganda—which Atwood describes as ‘printed brochures with pictures of tidy streets, happy children, and sunrises’ —to life. ‘Gilead’ is so instantly recognisable to fans of this book and The Handmaid’s Tale, so we knew that this cryptic approach would catch our core audience’s attention both in the flesh and when we shared the images on social media.
“The theme of resistance has been at the heart of our messaging since first publication and having the posters defaced allowed us to return to this idea, while also nodding to the fact that, in this book, the regime is beginning to crumble. Naturally, we turned to our widely recognised green pantone for this, and to stamp the posters with our cover artwork, after it decorated the London skyline and shop windows nationwide last year.”
The marketing team are using themes of resistance and activism elsewhere in the campaign too. It includes radio and podcast advertising voiced by Ann Dowd, the actor who plays Aunt Lydia in the Hulu television series “The Handmaid’s Tale”, a partnership with women’s rights charity Equality Now, and a series of interviews between Atwood and young global activists advocating for climate change and women’s rights issues.
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