Campaign Spotlight: Honey & Spice
By Caitlin Davies, Danielle Hernandez and Georgia Rees
Sunday Times bestselling author Bolu Babalola returns with her second novel Honey & Spice, which has been firmly established as a summer-must read. Her anthology Love in Colour (2020) featured on BBC2’s Between the Covers, was a bestselling debut weaving folktales, romance and mythology, and was a roaring success. It’s fair to say that Honey & Spice has captured our hearts again, featuring in bookshop windows across the UK and appearing on many recommendation lists.
Honey & Spice follows student radio show host Kiki Banjo, who is on a mission to offer solid relationship advice and guidance to the students at Whitewell University. However, meeting “The Wasteman of Whitewell,” Malakai Korede, complicates Kiki’s own feelings and personal principles, and risks going against the advice she ardently shares with the women at Whitewell. Will she give him a second chance?
Branded as the romance of the decade, the sizzling new summer release Honey & Spice has been adding some joyful colour to our bookshop windows this month. Headline Publishing Group seem to have mirrored the modern love story contained within the pages in an equally fun and colourful launch campaign.
The marketing journey for Honey & Spice started back in February of this year, when the first wave of proof copies were sent out to a selected list of lucky readers. The coveted box was full of goodies alongside the book, including some sweet plantain chips to snack on while reading, a scrunchie by a small business on etsy and a playlist. As music is such a huge part of the story, the author curated a special playlist to complement the love story and provide a more interactive musical experience for readers to immerse themselves in as they read.
Following the distribution of the arc copies, the marketing team continued to stir buzz with an official cover reveal on Bolu’s Instagram. Designed by illustrator @Jovilee_Illustrations the cover revolves around a spicy summer palette of bright pink and orange which illuminates the background and title in a gradient pattern. Like the narrative itself, the cover also features a woman of colour at the centre, with her love interest on the back – “having her back” as Bolu put it. And with a stunning jacket like that, why not show it off as much as you can! It wasn’t long before the vibrant design was all over social media in community hashtags, graphics and teaser snippets. Continuing to utilise the bestselling authors personal account to launch the latest rom-com, Headline collaborated with Bolu to incorporate some pivotal quotes from the book in a series of instagraphics. Every day for a week in June, Bolu would share a special moment from her novel along with some song lyrics that encapsulate the feeling of that moment, creating even more anticipation for the upcoming publication day.
This vibrant whirlwind of social media marketing clearly sparked a lot of interest from readers and bookstagrammers, including Reese Witherspoon’s influential book club account where Bolu’s latest novel has been celebrated as the July pick.
Being selected for Reese’s Bookclub guarantees a multiplication in sales, and the team behind the bookclub really make the effort to heavily market their picks. Past picks include Delia Owens’ Where the Crawdads Sing, Kiley Reid’s Such A Fun Age, and Taylor Jenkins Reid’s Daisy Jones And The Six, all of which have seen much success. The team first posted about Honey & Spice on their Instagram on the 5 July, coinciding with release day, and have since posted consistently throughout the month of July, inviting Bolu onto the channel to give small readings and take part in a virtual book club in conversation with Tia Williams, the author of Seven Days In June. Having such a prolific celebrity and book club getting behind and posting about the book, has really helped Honey & Spice to take up space in the oversaturated bookstagram market.
Back in the UK, pioneering literary social hub, BookBar, booked Bolu for a cocktail-fuelled live reading and author event. Bolu sat down with some friends to discuss romance, writing, and what they could look forward to in Honey & Spice. Clips of these mini sessions were then uploaded onto Bolu’s Instagram page to extend the conversation to her dedicated online fanbase. Bolu and Caleb Azumah Nelson, award-winning author of Open Water, sat down to discuss men, masculinity, and tenderness, while Vogue sex and dating columnist, Annie Lord, discussed healing, heartbreak, and finding your own identity in relationships. Bolu’s Instagram account is a joy to scroll through and the marketing campaign behind Honey & Spice is a stellar example of the beauty of a curated marketing strategy. Every choice made, from the colour palette to the character playlists, to the intimate events, have shown us a tantalising snapshot of what is in store.
It is an aesthetically pleasing and engaging campaign that has kept Honey & Spice on our radar for quite some time. Along with an exciting event schedule and cohesive social media campaign, this novel is certainly one to look out for this summer.