BeeLiked launches #DanBrownOrigin campaign

Sarah Lazell
May 9, 2017

Dan Brown-2


BeeLiked was recently challenged to help publicize Dan Brown's new novel ORIGIN, out on 3rd October 2017. We discuss with CEO Damian Dutton how BeeLiked worked with Doubleday, a division at Penguin Random House (PRH), to create the world's first virtual book signing. #danbrownorigin

The campaign is amazing. Can you give us a quick overview of the idea and how it came about? 

Firstly, it was such an honour to be approached to help publicize Dan Brown's new book, as I'm a fan myself. The idea for the campaign really came from having so little information about the novel, all we knew was its name ORIGIN, and that it was the fifth outing for Robert Langdon. 

With so little to go on, we had to think laterally. Doubleday were keen to run a contest to find a cover design for a limited edition of the novel, but I knew we also needed an idea that would involve all Dan's six million strong Facebook fans.

My thoughts turned to Dan Brown himself and how authors typically go about promoting their books through book signing tours. I realized that there were millions of fans that would love to have a signed copy of ORIGIN and our technology could make that possible.  I have a very vivid imagination, so I wanted to create a really intimate book signing, something that merged the fantasy of a Robert Langdon novel, with a very private meeting with Dan. I honestly didn't think Doubleday would go for it and even if they did, I didn't think Dan Brown would be up for a spot of acting. To my delight and amazement, everyone thought it was a wonderful idea and we started planning the campaign.  

You actually got to work with Dan Brown, what was that like?

Yes, working with our film partners Nemorin we not only met Dan Brown, we got to film in his house!

We were looking for a library to film the book signing in and it was only when we were shown a news interview with Dan filmed at his house, that we realized what a perfect location it was. The film takes you on a journey through several rooms in his house, until you come across Dan writing at his desk in a room he jokingly refers to as the “Fortress of Gratitude”.  We included this detail on the personal invitation seen at the start of the video. 

We loved working with Dan and found him really accommodating and fully on board with what we were trying to create.

You've talked about the idea, can you talk about the campaign goals? 

Deciding what the campaign goals are, is always my number one. I do find a lot of times clients will start with the idea, but the problem with that is it is easy to get carried away and lose sight of the reason for doing the campaign in the first place.

Doubleday’s goal was to engage as many of Dan Brown’s fans as possible, build PRH opt-in marketing data, and finally drive pre-orders for the book.  The initial idea was to run the book design contest, but once we’d discussed the concept, it was clear that the design contest alone would not produce the desired results, so we took everything to the next level. 

We started with the design contest  and received hundreds of fantastic designs. The idea was that the public would have the opportunity to submit book cover designs, with six finalists making the cut, then there would be a subsequent round of voting to select the overall winner. The incentive for voting for your favorite cover, is the promise of a personal book signing video with Dan Brown himself, plus a sweepstake entry to win one of just twenty-four signed limited editions with the winning cover design. The winning cover design will be announced live by Dan Brown himself at BookCon in June.

What challenges were there?

Well, I think the advantage that BeeLiked has is we already have a superb digital marketing platform, so we are never starting from scratch. I wouldn't say it was easy, but essentially the campaign uses our existing multi-media campaign, with just a different template. The voting contest is a campaign we call Top of the Polls, again with a new template. We've also now integrated some amazing video personalization tech into the platform.*

Challenges came from surprising places. With every campaign we create, we also have to think about how people may try to break them. In this case as part of our testing process we had to think about how we could stop people adding rude names for the book signing; we added a profanity filter to stop that happening.

We also scrutinized the process of choosing the winning book cover for the contest. With Boaty McBoatface fresh in everyone’s mind we knew we had to create a voting process that drew out the talented entries, rather than the joke ones. We also look for ways that could lead to cheating and voting fraud to make sure that everything is fair and above board.

Another challenge typical of any social marketing campaign is getting people actively involved. At every stage we were thinking, will this make people want to vote? We can create something really spectacular, but if no one clicks on it to find out about it then we haven’t succeeded in our mission. To help create a compelling voting process, we came up with an idea of making it look like Dan Brown is broadcasting live and actually waiting for you to vote.

What do you hope this campaign will do for Doubleday?

Well the main purpose is to sell the book, so we are hoping that our campaign will help make the fans aware of the book launch and help push pre-orders.

We are also providing an opt in data option for those interested in finding out more about Dan Brown. We all take data privacy very seriously.  Doubleday are only collecting the data that they need. Doubleday can then use the information for their own internal marketing and subsequent campaigns.

So, how do you write like Dan Brown? 

The million dollar question. In order to write like Dan Brown we needed to create a font from his handwriting.

I remember sitting in my hotel in NYC thinking up all the sentences and names I could get Dan Brown to write for me. I did make sure my own name was on the list. Dan was very obliging and provided us with enough samples of his handwriting and through a bit of magic (and clever software) we were able to create the font. It didn't end there though, as we needed to blend the font weight to match exactly with the rest of the text Dan had written on film. When it comes to the book signing, it looks as though he is really writing your own name inside the book. I think the end result is truly magic.  

The campaign is no longer but you can still see the book cover designs here. 

you can also search twitter for fan comments #danbrownorigin

*Our thanks to the wonderful teams at Impossible Software and Amazon Polly for helping us realize this campaign. 

Looking to create your own unique and engaging campaign?

BeeLiked is an engagement marketing platform that provides brands with a wide variety of contest and game options to engage their online audience, generate leads and drive sales. Our intuitive contest software offers brands significant cost and time savings over their digital agencies and is rapidly reinventing the way brands build fan engagement. 

At the heart of every meaningful fan experience is a big idea, and that is what we are here to provide. BeeLiked Studio, provides brands with access to our highly creative team. We develop ideas that connect your brand with your audience and work to ensure your KPIs are met.

Talk to us today about how we can help create a buzz for your business.

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