Friday, February 6, 2009

You can take the boy out of publicity...

Although I currently wield the dreaded red pen (actually, no, my pen is black), I find my roots in publicity hard to shake and I continue to be fascinated with unique approaches to marketing and publicity. Say what you want about THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT (I happened to love it), the marketing plan that blurred the line between reality and fiction was br-ill-iant. Others have tried to mimic this sort of approach to varying degrees of success.

This most recent effort comes to us from across the Pond, regarding a forthcoming book called MR. TOPPIT. Apparently, the publishers took out a large add in the Times, claiming to be the characters in the book who then went on to denounce the book as unauthorized. Nothing courts controversy like something being made public that was never meant to see the light of day. The ad then directs you to a web site for more information but when you arrive there, the site claims to have crashed due to high volume of traffic but clicking on the "more info here" bar sends you to a blog with further mocked-up info.

It's kinda fun (says the geek who enjoys all the tertiary internet diversions offered by the producers of LOST).

One bit of frustration is that after only a base level of searching, I still don't know what the book is about. But here's the thing: I want to find out. So I'm going to keep digging. Damn their ability to spark my curiosity!

It's a fun little gamble that Penguin has taken. I'm really fascinated by risky attempts at book publicity; the more creative, the better. I remember a stunt a few years back involving carting a casket full of books around town and handing out free copies. (Was that also London? I can't remember. I couldn't find it in a quick Google search. If you remember this and have the info, send it my way.) What remains to be seen, of course, is if it will translate into sales. What's obvious is that it's translated into attention, which is half the battle right there.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go figure out what this book is all about. I have to.

UPDATE: I found it. I cheated. You'll have more fun if you burrow through the blog.


stephhale said...

I love publicity stuff like that. They always hook me. There was a book that came out a few years ago that they created some false controversy about. Two women found a journal in an old piece of furniture then had the journal made into a book. They had MySpace pages made for characters against them releasing the book/journal. It was pretty cool and it took me a while to figure out that it was all just made up.
ps- Thank you for making me trusted and verified. Finally. ;)

Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

I do love it when marketing gets creative in this way - to my mind it kinda adds to the creative process that is writing - extending the arena of the book into something else. I often think that if I were ever to go back into marketing, book marketing would be a deeply cool place to go!

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