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D&AD New Blood Awards 2022

How can Penguin make books and reading an unmissable part of pop culture?

Unlike other culture we consume on a regular basis - art, television, film and theatre; reading is a mostly solitary experience. This leaves a hole for interacting with other book buyers. And as such, the content provided by these sources is often left by the wayside when it comes to popular culture, despite the strength of its relevance.

The challenge:

  • Break books into the mainstream cultural conversation

  • Play with their content in formats not traditionally associated with books

  • Encourage occasional book buyers to engage with them on a deeper level

  • Think about how you’ll make books a water cooler moment, something discussed in the ‘here and now’ amongst the wider public


  • Occasional book buyers who buy 3-5 books a year

  • Mainly rely on book recommendations from others to determine their purchasing

  • Span a wide range of ages, but are engaged with cultural conversations and are aware of the latest releases in other media, from television to content streaming

  • You can choose to select a specific community within this group to target. Think about the genres that bear significant relevance for them

Things to think about:

  • Investigate why nearly every aspect of the reading experience is solitary

  • If you could start from the drawing board, what would you want the book buying, reading and post-read experiences to look like?

  • Consider that reading doesn’t look the same for everyone - it can be anything from purchasing and reading a physical book, borrowing one from your local library, or listening to an audiobook

  • Think about who we’re trying to reach, and what a typical day might look like to them - Where are the potential places books could fit into that? What media do they already engage with, and where does that fit into the wider cultural conversation?

  • Lots of streaming platforms and shows are already incredibly active in this space. We don’t even need to have watched a show to understand someone posting a meme about it etc.

  • Books can go very different journeys. Sometimes a book is an instant smash hit, so consider how you might be able to capitalise on this success with your idea. Some books are slow burners, so how could your idea drive awareness and engagement with a title people might not yet have heard of? And some books might have been around for centuries, but a modern event might drive people’s interest in it all over again.

What to submit:

  • Showcase how it your idea will enable books, reading, and their content to become part of the wider cultural conversation, on par with visual mediums

  • Your solution. Clearly explain your idea and how it could work.

  • Your creative process. How you arrived at your solution and key insights from your research


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