To help NOOK stand out in the extremely competitive UK eReader market, we focussed on a core
USP: that NOOK provides an unrivalled reading experience. We partnered with The Evening
Standard’s Get Reading initiative, and co-hosted on an exclusive ‘Readathon’ in Trafalgar Square,
attracting over 20,000 people to listen to their favourite authors and celebrities (including Hugh
Grant, Princess Beatrice and Peppa Pig!), reading from a NOOK device.
School reading events, over 90 pieces of advertorial and editorial content across ES platforms, an
online hub, incredible social media support and exclusive reader competitions put NOOK at the heart
of a national reading debate - and positioned it as the most fun, effective and educationally
beneficial eReader on the market.
NOOK Gets London Reading
How a multi-layered sponsorship went way beyond advertising to deliver social, cultural and
educational benefits to kids across London and way beyond
Background & Objectives: NOOK is for Reading
The eReader NOOK, part of the Barnes & Noble educational retail group, offers an award-winning
reader experience. But when it entered into the UK, it found itself in an extremely competitive
market – a market dominated by Kindle, under threat by Kobo and under intense pressure from new
entrant tablets like Galaxy.
The challenges didn’t stop there. NOOK was being outspent 4:1 across the board, with the vital
summer holidays period just around the corner. What’s more, everyone was saying the same thing –
that their eReaders offered amazing technology and great convenience. To make its mark and build
awareness in the UK, NOOK would have to find something very different to say.
It didn’t take us long to come to a conclusion about what we wanted to focus on. In a technology
and gadget-obsessed world, it’s easy to lose sight of what e-readers are really all about: Reading.
And with Barnes & Noble’s world-renowned reputation in providing educational content, we knew
we had a huge strength to play upon, as well as unrivalled access to exclusive reading content and
authors. We just had to get our tactics right to bring out that focus in a credible and valuable way.
Insight & Strategy: Parents want their children to succeed
As a nation, we face huge challenges in encouraging the rising generation to engage positively with
reading. And, with overwhelming evidence that literacy has a significant relationship to people’s life
chances, society plays a huge price if we get this wrong.
There’s nothing more important to parents (our core audience) than ensuring a positive future for
their children. If we could position NOOK as a real ‘champion’ of reading and literacy, and show
families how much of an important, educational and fun role it could play in their lives, we knew that
we would be able to pull away from our competitors.
As newspapers play such an important role in wider social and cultural issues, we approached a
variety of media owners to find a solution. The work that the London Evening Standard was doing in
tackling social issues in the Capital immediately struck a chord, and we saw an ideal opportunity for
collaboration in its upcoming ‘Get London Reading’ campaign.
Of course, we wanted to go much further than sponsorship. In order to really hammer our message
home and position NOOK as a true collaborator in the newspaper’s (and society’s) quest to make
reading fun, we would have to do something that actually involved families and physically got them
to engage with the NOOK product and its exclusive content.
So, we assembled a formidable crew, bringing Initiative and Evening Standard teams together with
PR, creative and events specialists, threw in a few global celebrities, the Mayor of London, and
Peppa Pig, and created one of the Evening Standard’s most successful – and socially valuable –
collaborative partnerships of all time.
Plan: Get London Reading
We created a mammoth ‘Readathon’ in Trafalgar Square – a one day read-a-long that offered a
unique platform for NOOK to talk about reading, literacy and speak to a family audience. Think about
it: Thousands of mums and dads gathered in one place to read with their kids, right in the middle of
the summer holidays. No other e-reader was doing anything like it. It was a unique opportunity for
NOOK to differentiate itself.
Hosted by hugely popular presenters Dick & Dom, the Readathon got thousands of families flocking
to the heart of London to hear the likes of Hugh Grant, Rupert Everett and Peppa Pig reading from –
you guessed it – a NOOK eReader. The line-up consisted of a combination of celebrities and
children’s authors, and was interspersed with performances from West End shows. ‘Giant NOOKs’ at
the side of the stage even screened exclusive celebrity recordings, including one from HRH Princess
Beatrice – who read an extract from Harry Potter straight from Buckingham Palace. Given that
Royalty don't endorse brands, it was a major coup for NOOK. The Palace even supported the event
through its own social media channels.
Front page coverage of the event (and tactical NOOK adverts alongside) made millions of Londoners
aware of the event, and an 8-page’Get Reading’ supplement was bursting with information around
the product and its crucial role in the campaign.
Of course, the newspaper collaboration didn’t stop there. As part of a wider goal to improve
childhood literacy, NOOK donated eReaders to volunteers at high-need schools linked with the Get
Reading campaign and participated in exclusive events throughout, which included special readings
at schools with Stephen Fry, Boris Johnson and Harry Enfield.
We also made the most of all of the Evening Standard’s other platforms. A co-branded online hub
offered families bespoke NOOK content and reading tips; editorial coverage (including front page)
opened up a national debate around the importance of reading, positioning NOOK at the heart of it;
advertorials re-enforced NOOK’s educational message; press advertising ran alongside all relevant
editorial; reader promotions helped build excitement; a schools book review competition
supported the educational message; and full branding rights within all of the promotional activity
around the event meant the new eReader in town simply couldn’t be missed.
Results: NOOK leads the reading agenda
Partnering with The Evening Standard’s Get Reading campaign had a hugely positive impact; for
NOOK (who had differentiated itself in the market and developed a unique and unrivalled reputation
amongst families), for the Evening Standard (who, with NOOK’s support were able to make their
campaign infinitely more impactful), for London families (who could partake in a unique experience
with invaluable implications) and for the wider UK public.
The depth and strength of the partnership took the Get Reading campaign to a completely new
level, meaning that its impact was felt across the UK. Going way beyond advertising, NOOK helped to
educate families around the importance of reading, and the fun that can be involved.
The numbers speak for themselves:
We ran 92 individual pieces of communication across the London Evening Standard,
Independent and i (sister papers of the ES, which offered the ability to drive the campaign
Circa 20,000 people turned up to Trafalgar Square for our ‘Readathon’ event
Our co-branded online hub delivered over 185 million impressions over a 5-month period
(25% above expectations) with 91,767 unique users (most successful ever ES hub)
We achieved an impressive £2.2 million of national PR value, with over 150 news stories
In addition, we had over 137,000 social media endorsements – from journalists, celebrities,
the Mayor of London, authors and Buckingham Palace!
‘Partnering with The Evening Standard’s Get London Reading campaign was a unique way to
differentiate in an extremely competitive market. The ‘Readathon’ and school reading events enabled
us to communicate the benefits of digital reading on NOOK in a compelling way and to extend
an invaluable message around the importance of reading to thousands of families and children.’ -
Sasha Norkin, VP NOOK Global Marketing
“Our partnership with Initiative and Nook allowed us to bring our Get London Reading campaign to
life. The Get Reading festival celebrated the joy of reading and highlighted the need to tackle
illiteracy in children. We were extremely grateful for Nook’s support, which helped us to reach even
more children, increasing their access to reading and helping them to develop skills for life.” Sarah
Sands, Editor, Evening Standard