CASE STUDY: Lord of the Flies cover competition

The Lord of the Flies Cover Competition for 13 to 16-year-olds ran from September 2011 to January 2012, in partnership with Guardian Children’s Books. It was at the heart of a campaign to promote the Centenary Edition of the book.

The central idea was to invite a new jacket illustration for an Educational Edition (to be published September 2012) from students encountering the book at GCSE level. The campaign hoped to ignite conversation about this classic novel, and generate a significant amount of PR, both online and off.

Though not a particularly unique concept – we admit this freely! – there were a number of factors that made the competition a success. Paramount to this was the book itself. As well as being a dream campaign for a Faber marketing manager, the ubiquity of Lord of the Flies meant that it needed no introduction. Our artists and illustrators were likely already reading it, and would be re-imagining it, crucially, for an audience of their peers. The book’s reputation was also a huge advantage when seeking press coverage.

Getting started

We took the decision early that the competition would be run online through a custom website (lordofthefliescover.com). We commissioned an identity, distinct from any archive or current jackets, with the aim of making an impact with a demographic that spanned teens as well as teachers, librarians and educators. Encouraging social sharing at all points in the campaign was crucial for our teen demographic, so entries were managed online and via a public gallery, each piece of artwork being supplied a unique URL and its own sharing buttons. The site also featured a set of bespoke digital resources for young illustrators, all posted on familiar platforms (YouTube, WordPress, Vimeo, Flickr). As well as good collateral for teachers, our aim for the resources was to create content that invited sharing. Bringing together a set of archive Lord of the Flies jackets alone garnered over 13,000 views on Flickr.

The major partnership with the Guardian – in which the competition featured heavily as part of the newspaper’s Books Season, as well as through a series of features and social media updates over four months – gave the campaign its running start. It also sparked a generous amount of follow-up press. Overall, the Guardian accounted for a meaty 29% of our referral traffic to the site, followed by Wikipedia (13%), where the book’s listing already sees high traffic, and Twitter (10%), where most of the competition updates and discussion took place.

Reaching teens

The Guardian was also central to the awareness campaign aimed at teachers. Its messaging to its own Teachers Network was teamed with our PR and email activity to teachers and educational bodies. A partnership with The Reading Agency gave us access to libraries, which, in a brilliant coup for traditional offline marketing – in this case a flyer in a library – was where our winner Amy Baxter found out about the competition.

So after an extended wait in which it dawned on us that teens do, in fact, work right up to deadlines, the last two weeks saw a flurry of entries. Our final tally was 277, with a high proportion being submitted in classroom-sized batches by teachers. The winner announcement gave us a second bite at publicity (which included coverage on the Guardian, culture, design and literary sites, and an appearance by our winner on BBC Breakfast), resulting in our highest single day traffic coming unusually at the end of the campaign.

There is a nice and rare sense of longevity in this project that owes much to its source material. The site and resources will hopefully remain a lasting part of the online presence for Lord of the Flies, and the entries are a fascinating glimpse into how young readers experience and interpret this classic novel.

The Lord of the Flies cover competition was Highly Commended in the Sept-Dec Seasonal Marketing Campaign Awards. 

Marketing: Silvia Novak & Susan Holmes
Publicity: Rebecca Pearson & Rachel Alexander
Website: Omni Digital (omni-digital.co.uk)

View all of the cover design entries, the winner and shortlist, at lordofthefliescover.com

 

Silvia Novak is Consumer Marketing Manager at Faber and Faber, where she has commissioned a number of interactive projects and direct-to-consumer campaigns, including the online story pepysrd.com and experimental poetry site jubileelines.com

 

 

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