Campaign Spotlight: Worthy by Jada Pinkett Smith
By Danielle Hernandez, Leah Murphy, Georgia Rees, Amy Greensmith and Emily Lavin
Blurbed as “gripping” and “at times painfully honest”, Worthy chronicles the life of American actress and talk show host Jada Pinkett Smith. In her inspirational memoir, Pinkett Smith bares all, from her youth in Baltimore as a participant in the drugs trade, her deep friendship with late rapper Tupac Shakur and the successful career that she built for herself, to her marriage and family life with actor Will Smith and their children, Jaden and Willow. Worthy reads like an intimate conversation about the highs and lows of Pinkett Smith’s life and her journey to self-acceptance and healing, dealing with themes of depression, media scrutiny and childhood trauma. Published by Fourth Estate, an imprint of HarperCollins, Worthy was released on 4 October 2023, after an intimate and curated social media campaign on Pinkett Smith’s own Instagram account and in anticipation of an extensive worldwide book tour.
Marketing for Celebrity Memoirs
People have always been interested in the private lives of celebrities, with celebrity memoirs rising in popularity over the past decade.
Previously, celebrities were always able to maintain a distance between themselves and their fans. We now live in an age where, thanks to social media, celebrities give us an insight into their lives on a regular basis. The challenge for marketers is how to garner interest when readers likely already know the majority of the memoirs’ contents.
On the one hand, celebrity memoirs are a dream to promote, usually with an instantly recognisable name attached to it. However, it can be difficult to create appeal to a wider audience.
One of the main marketing techniques to keep readers interested is teasing stories. This is often achieved through the media, cherry-picking stories from the book sure to prompt attention-grabbing headlines. However, this is not always the outcome of a carefully planned marketing campaign. Prince Harry’s memoir suffered leaks, due to copies being displayed and available to purchase in the days before publication. Despite these leaks not having been planned, the widespread coverage likely contributed to greater interest, as bombshell revelations captured the attention of prospective readers.
But as the saying goes: all press is good press.
In the lead up to the release of Pinkett Smith’s memoir, she has been responding to rumours, especially concerning her marriage to Will Smith, which has frequently made headlines in recent years, the infamous Oscar’s slap and hinting at what else she reveals in her book.
Jada Pinkett Smith's memoir promises to be a gripping and brutally honest account of her life, set to inspire readers. What better way to boost book sales than allowing readers to engage with the conversation themselves in an exciting book tour.
To promote her autobiography, Pinkett Smith is embarking on a worldwide book tour, which includes eleven stops across the US, the UK and the Middle East. The tour kicks off in New York City and concludes in Los Angeles on 18 November 2023, with notable events including a “Red Table Talk” inspired event in Abu Dhabi and an appearance at the Southbank Centre during the London Literature Festival. This marketing strategy leverages Pinkett Smith’s celebrity name and the media’s curiosity with recent controversies – like the Oscar’s slap incident and her separation from Will Smith – to generate interest in her book.
The events vary in style and format, allowing readers to engage with Pinkett Smith in different ways. From meet-and-greets to interactive photo opportunities, with some offering signed copies as part of the ticket price. This more personal approach will no doubt draw readers deeper into her life story, making the book tour a crucial element of her promotion.
Given the personal nature of writing a memoir, it is no surprise that Pinkett Smith herself has been heavily involved in the promotion of her upcoming book. Using her large following to her advantage, Pinkett Smith has maintained excitement for her memoir and shared her writing experience in a very personal way.
Throughout posts shared to her Instagram, Pinkett Smith delves deep into the writing process, the photos used in the book and her discovery of the overarching theme: her journey from “unlovable to lovable.” The image for the cover, featuring Pinkett Smith sidelong, is made up of family photos, close-ups of which she has shared to her Instagram along with home videos; through these posts, readers are invited into her world and family life, providing a glimpse into how the memoir will do the same. Each of these posts feature the hashtags #IamYouareWeareWorthy and #ourworthyjourney, both of which are inclusive to her readers and which highlight Pinkett Smith’s mission to not only reclaim her own narrative, but to inspire others to reclaim theirs. This theme of self-worth was further highlighted in a post shared by the memoir’s publisher, Dey Street Books, quoting Pinkett Smith describing the book as a “harrowing ride” of her journey to self-love.