Saudis are still reading, but in a bit-sized format. So we Reintroduced books in newsworthy snackable format to grab their attention and lure them to ask for more. We summarized the plots of books used in our campaign and transformed it into controversial fake news articles, with intriguing headlines in both English and Arabic.
We released our campaign on the front pages of famous newspapers and the news section of well-known websites with headlines like:
“Farmer swears he was kicked out by animals.” (Animal Farm)
For each headline we drafted a short story in an article form where curious readers had to flip the page or click to read more. Once clicked or flipped, readers were directed to another page that reveals the book behind the story.
Our books were reintroduced in an interesting & shareable 21st century news format
In newspapers, we published front page insertions mimicking real articles with headlines like ‘Couple Commit Suicide after Family Finds out about Relationship’ followed by an article in a journalistic format without revealing the nature of the insertion. Readers are asked to continue the article on another page whereby a revealer explains the true nature of the story with a call to action to buy the book covering the full story from Jarir bookstore if they like what they read. For instance, the above example is about ‘Romeo & Juliet’. The same was used for news websites with a teasing article that once clicked reveals the true story with a link to Jarir website to buy the books. These reformatted book stories were launched in 4 major newspapers and contextually on news sites across Saudi starting the 13th of May till the 22nd of April 2016.
The results were outstanding. During the campaign period, books sales increased by 18% in comparison to the previous quarter which was above our initial objective by more than 300%. Additionally, footfall at Jarir bookstore increased by 20%. Online, we gained around 2.6 million impressions on each website and around 1322 clicks, and thousands of likes. But the best result was in creating a nationwide debate about the importance of books as a main source of inspiring & entertaining content which brought books back into the conversation.
The campaign transformed our books into controversial fake news articles which gave us plenty of room to be playful from a media perspective be it contextually or in terms of the format. Because the creative was launched on the front pages of select reputable newspapers and websites, it gave our campaign more credibility and we were able to highjack the attention of the reader by simply reformatting the message and inserting it as authentic content in the right place within the correct context. It was a matter of proper media utilization.
Insights, Strategy and the Idea
The newsworthy campaign wasn’t about just selling but about regaining the conversation & reigniting a lost interest in books as an amusing and timeless source of entertainment. Preaching about the marvels of books or doing another book sale wouldn’t have achieved much as we are competing with a bombardment of social, political and pop-culture news. To get our message through, we needed a louder voice, we needed to be the news. Thus we carefully repackaged the plots of our books into attractive fake news and placed it exactly where our readers get their news from: either front pages of reputable newspapers or famous news websites. Unaware of the bait, our readers fell for it. Instantly we became the news.People started sharing the story and an online discussion about books became the topic of interest in Saudi, ultimately driving books sales & regaining a lost appeal