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  • Writer's pictureThe Publishing Post

Our Favourite Campaigns of 2023

By Amy Greensmith, Emily Lavin, Leah Murphy, and Georgia Rees


As we welcome a new year and eagerly await what 2024 will bring, we're taking a look back at our favourite marketing campaigns of 2023. This issue highlights some of the most creative campaigns from the past twelve months to showcase a variety of marketing ideas and to identify why they were so successful. 


The Earth Transformed by Peter Frankopan

 

Recently named as The Times History Book of the Year, Peter Frankopan’s The Earth Transformed – published 2 March 2023 – enjoyed a yearlong campaign spearheaded by Bloomsbury. The campaign effectively used targeted marketing for history buffs and fans of Frankopan’s previous work, The Silk Road, by featuring Frankopan on the cover of the April 2023 issue of History Today, as well as orchestrating a takeover of the homepage of the History Extra website for the entire month of March. There was also a strong audio advertising campaign with podcast promotion across Acast’s history, science and politics stations which thrived during key commercial events, such as Father’s Day and Christmas. 

 

Bookshops were a key part of marketing this book as a large portion of Frankopan’s fan demographic were found to shop in person. Waterstones sold an exclusive fore-edge painted edition and many shops dedicated displays to it; over 300 Blackwell’s and Waterstones stores received point of sale. Bloomsbury also partnered with custom installation company, Edna Edna, to create seven window murals across England and Edinburgh, as well as two installations in Blackwell’s Oxford and Waterstones Gower St. These featured vintage maps, antique globes and meteorology instruments.

 

Finally, Frankopan embarked on an extensive book tour during February and March and headlined all major UK literary festivals. He also made numerous appearances on both mainstream TV and radio.


Yellowface by R. F. Kuang


Accompanied by a carefully planned marketing campaign by the team at Borough Press, R.F. Kuang’s latest novel, Yellowface, was one of 2023’s most anticipated reads.


The stand-out element of the campaign was the use of the book’s instantly recognisable cover: a pair of suspicious eyes set against a background of dominating yellow. This simple, yet striking image became a consistent presence throughout the campaign. It appeared at the London Book Fair, on billboards, yellow merchandise and was also the main focus for promotional materials. Multiple phases of posters attracted attention in London and some regional cities, including Manchester and Edinburgh. These posters played on the idea of lingering eyes watching your every move, a concept taken even further by an interactive poster with animated eyes that moved regularly. 


Whilst the team at Borough press were brilliant, we believe one particular display stood out. In collaboration with the company, Jack Arts, an installation of Athena’s office was on display in Waterstones Piccadilly. It included a desk with a self-typing ghost typewriter, a pile of Athena’s original manuscripts, and a green pandan pancake with a bite taken from it (if you’ve read the book, you’ll know the reference!). 


The success of the campaign was affirmed with Yellowface reaching a number of bestseller and book award lists: It was praised by The New York Times and The Sunday Times, shortlisted for Waterstones Book of the Year and was chosen for Reese’s Book Club in July. 


Death of a Bookseller by Alice Slater


Released in April 2023, Slater’s Sunday Times bestselling debut was preceded by a successful marketing campaign that got readers hugely excited for its release, dubbed a “horrible little book.” 


Public relations packages, alongside the event hosted at BookBar in London, provided eager readers with a proof of the book to feature its signature neon pink and green cover. It also came with a snail silhouette beanie in honour of the protagonist’s pet snail, Bleep, for readers to truly embrace their inner Roach. Publisher Hodder and Stoughton arranged a jam-packed tour to celebrate Slater’s debut, with appearances at Waterstones Gower Street and Waterstones Deansgate, where Slater was once a bookseller. 

 

As well as a whole host of in-person events, there was also a large social media campaign to get readers excited. Slater herself was heavily involved in the campaign, from regularly flooding our timelines with the iconic book cover, sharing updates of her book tour that gave readers early access to exclusive extracts, to driving pre-orders for the book. In another clever move for Slater’s debut, the marketing team devised an interactive quiz where readers could find out if they were a Roach or a Laura, which they were encouraged to share on Twitter to further the buzz for the characters at the helm of this horrible little book. 


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