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Case Studies


'Narnia' book media campaign

'Narnia' book media campaign

Best practice from OMD UK


‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ has been around since the 1950’s and sales had become stagnant.

An opportunity to revitalise interest arose when Disney announced the release of a film adaptation of the book.

But, like the book, the publishing industry’s approach to advertising was stuck in the past.

Working with Harper Collins, we needed to bring both the book and the publishing industry out of the wardrobe and into the 21st century.


We knew there would be a natural sales peak following the film release, but we wanted to extend the sales window by marketing the book before the film’s release.

The central premise of the campaign was ‘Read It Before You See It’, appealing to most people’s natural assumption that books are “better” than films.

Taking inspiration from the murky world of narcotic sales, we decided the best way to get people hooked was to give them their first fix for free.

We wanted to use the book itself, as opposed to the usual media space, cross tracks and press advertising, to whet people’s appetite and leave them wanting more.


We needed to launch the book to children who were new to Narnia and reignite interest amongst an older generation who were already familiar with it.

We distributed mini-reads, a sample of the first four chapters, ending on a cliff-hanger, which got people talking about the book and passing the samples on, creating a viral effect.

Seeding in this way broadened the network of readers who would be unable to resist buying the book to finish the story.

The mini-reads were produced in the style of the book to showcase a re-branded cover, and given out three months prior to the film release.

All samples carried a ‘Read It Before You See It’ belly-band. We selected four main locations where our audiences congregate to act as sampling epicentres: cinemas, airports, train stations and bookshops.

The first chapters could also be downloaded online, with the incentive of winning a family safari.

We used giant wardrobes and sampling staff on the opening weekend of another film adaptation of a classic book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, to target our younger audience.

A competition mechanic allowed us to capture a database of contacts to market the remaining books in the series.

We then pushed this strategy out into airports and train stations. Airport activity was phased over the August bank holiday in order to reach families going on holiday at the busiest time of year, while National train stations reached our older audience and alleviated the boredom of the commute.

‘Read It Before You See It’ extended to point-of-sale posters and giant wardrobes for retail promotions.


Year-on-year, book sales rose 800 per cent: 300 per cent more than Harper Collins had predicted. The online and cinema competition generated 2,000 leads to be used to promote other books in the series.

The campaign was held up by the publishing industry as a ground-breaking approach to book marketing, making the cover of Publishing News, and subsequently being copied by both Abacus and Penguin.

And all this was achieved before the film was even released with a budget of only £100k!

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