June 20, 2017
Dutch brewer Heineken had a very successful ad campaign based on it setting the standards of excellence. The tag line ran: Heineken don’t do …. but if it did, they would be the best in the world. It was a stroke of marketing genius that, as these things so often do, made its way into pop culture. It’s a tactic that indie publisher Story Plant hopes will work for it too. In a stroke of marketing genius, it has released a seven-part audio drama as a podcast to promote its books.
Yes, you read that correctly, a fully scripted, acted and produced drama series that is simply an advert.
Except it isn’t just an advert if it makes its way into pop culture, it could end up with a legion of fans in its own right. Written by bestselling novelist Tawni O’Dell, the series follows the writer of a reality TV show which pits six novelists against each other in a literary competition. Rewrites is described by Story Plant president and publisher Lou Aronica as: “The story of a man who believes society is devolving because people don’t read enough.” His (the reality show’s creator) valiant attempts to turn the public onto ‘the joys of a good book’ through the trials and tribulations of the authors on the reality show, say a lot about every publisher’s’ efforts to promote their authors’ work.
Aronica said the idea came from the publisher trying to: “Figure out how to launch books and authors in a distinctive way in a crowded book marketplace.” The solution they hit upon is to make a drama of the creative process and the authors themselves. If people understand the author’s’ struggles they will have greater interest in their work. In addition, Aronica points to the creative crossover between drama and literature that has always been significant – Shakespeare’s body of work existed as plays long before it formed the core curriculum for 16-year-olds studying English literature for example.
If dramas turn viewers into readers then audio dramas also have the potential to turn listeners into readers. It stands to reason that those who enjoyed the podcast series will seek out more work by its author Tawni O’Dell. It also stands to reason that as they search Story Plant’s back catalogue they will discover a world of commercial fiction from unknown and best-selling authors, and they may just fall in love with reading in the process. Heineken don’t do publishing marketing but if it did, it would look a lot like Story Plant’s podcast series.
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