Getting Creative: Penguin echoes new book in digital media experience

Evocative literature transports readers to another world, to another time. As they flip pages, the mind conjures the sights and sounds contained within. Readers of And the Mountains Echoed from Khaled Hosseini, however, are given an aural and visual assist with “The Echo Project.” Created for Penguin Books, the experience is an interactive companion to […]

Evocative literature transports readers to another world, to another time. As they flip pages, the mind conjures the sights and sounds contained within. Readers of And the Mountains Echoed from Khaled Hosseini, however, are given an aural and visual assist with “The Echo Project.” Created for Penguin Books, the experience is an interactive companion to the book, offering video, audio and photographic content for every page of the book based on suggestions from fans.

THE BRIEF

Rather than focusing simply on the launch, creative agency Dare suggested a longer play. “We recommended that Penguin focus on the soft copy launch,” says André Louis, director of planning at Dare. The strategy was to get Hosseini fans to influence those who buy a few books a year. “In essence, we’ve created a value exchange: avids get to co-create and live a more immersive book experience; casual readers get the ‘DVDextras’ that go along with the paperback.”

THE PROCESS

With 402 pages of potential content, Dare had to build something that could handle unexpected suggestions from readers. “ We read and re-read to understand its themes, and recurring imagery,” says Craig Ferguson, art director at Dare, noting it was built in HTML5 so that it could be supported on tablet, desktop and mobile devices. “For some pages, we could feel Hosseini’s intent with a dramatic line or vivid scene. Other times we would have a collective question mark about a piece of Persian culture, geography or mythology that we felt others might have and that would dictate our direction.”

Getting Creative
Canadian Tire’s Ice Truck
Range Rover races the sun
The Walking Dead Chop Shop

Ian Barr, Dare’s VP social and innovation, says the project was also a way to keep the book fresh in the months before the paperback was released. After the hard copy came out, celebrity contributors—which included CBC personalities Jian Ghomeshi (Q) and author Will Ferguson (419, Happiness)—made their page suggestions.

“With each new influencer and as key milestones are hit, it gives Penguin a reason to communicate with the media and its channel partners. Our execution has turned what would normally have been a two month launch into a year’s worth of topical, and interesting content connections.”

FLEXIBILITY WAS KEY

Most of the pages were created by Dare with reader suggestions receive4d through the Echo Project site. “We weren’t sure what type of content our external contributors would want to bring to life,” says Chris Obergfell, associate CD at Dare. “Some had very specific ideas about what the page should be or what they saw in their minds, and some chose a page but left it completely open for us to develop on their behalf,” adds Ferguson. “In a few extraordinary cases, a contributor gave us a finished, interactive page, built to spec, ready to be dropped in place.”

The Echo Project from Dare Toronto on Vimeo.

This story first appeared in the April 2014 issue of Marketing, available on newsstands and on your iPad.

Brands Articles

Montreal Canadiens draft Jay Baruchel for fan club launch

NHL team launches Club 1909 to connect with fans around the world

Kraft Peanut Butter brings iconic bears to life

Peanut butter brand introduces plush toys as part of its “Stick Together” campaign

Sears strikes leasing deal with U.K. fashion retailer

Primark to open seven standalone stores in U.S. malls

On the Move — Weekly Roundup

A recap of who’s headed where in Canadian marketing communications

Redefining the mini-meal

Shoppers looking beyond classic snacks like chips and cookies

Air Miles focuses on storytelling in new video

Campaign turns user-generated content into branded content

Mr. Sub selects Tag Franchise for a brand refresh

The quick-serve submarine chain is ready for change

More 2014 MIAs finalists – shortlist #2

Finalists in the Best Use of Content and Best Use of Digital Channels categories