By Amy Houston, Senior Reporter

August 1, 2022 | 6 min read

Last week, Amazon Books launched a global brand campaign portraying the magic of imagination sparked by reading. The Drum touched down with Droga5 to learn how it tied together a beautifully-shot mixed-media video, multiple out-of-home (OOH) posters and an emoji-laden 3D billboard into a cohesive, memorable idea.

The campaign, titled ‘That Reading Feeling Awaits,’ is underscored by a hero film focusing on five uniquely animated scenes with one commonality – people absolutely engrossed in novels. The plots of these stories are animated using illustration, SFX, claymation, mimic manga, sci-fi and even romantic styles.

Here’s how the idea found life.

The pitch

Amazon tasked Droga5 London with the hopes of raising “reading intent among people,” says Tom Elias, senior account director at Droga5 London – no easy task in a multimedia age.

“Market success for them is getting more people wanting to read, and that is over and above the sale of books, over and above anything to do with Amazon specifically. The reason we were able to get to such a universal insight is that we approached it from ‘we want to just make people read,’ rather than we want people to go shopping on Amazon. And that gives you a very different lens by which you create the work.”

The brief

The tech company needed an ad capable of reinvigorating lapsed readers and “people who have read in the past and have kind of trickled off through life and work to remind them how great books are,” says Matt Hubbard, creative director at Droga5 London. The work’s bombastic and exciting, more akin to what may be expected from the likes of PlayStation and Xbox – not books.

“It’s become easier to do other things than to read. It can be easier to watch Netflix or get lost in social media,” Hubbard continues. “But actually, as soon as people start reading again, they rediscover their love for it.”

The creative

The team harkened back to times when they had the uninterrupted freedom to enjoy a good book before they were committed to the creative craft. What did they like about reading?

Work in progress images from the campaign

“Books can be more than entertainment – they can open your viewpoint to the world, they can help you learn more about yourself, they can blow your mind,” adds Hubbard. “I could be on a subway reading and it wouldn’t look like anything from the outside, but on the inside it’s a totally different story.”

Knowing that they were competing in a world occupied by scrolling and streaming, they focused on bringing to life all inner magical thoughts one has when absorbed in a story.

Hubbard continues: “It’s such a great unique feeling that doesn’t come from anywhere else, because everything else is just kind of served to you on a platter. Here’s the visual, here’s what it sounds like. But with reading, it’s a really unique experience.

He adds: "We can all read the same exact book and have totally different outcomes from it.”

Tasked with putting life into the campaign, director Tom Noakes read the script and immediately knew the right people for the job. There were over twenty illustrators working simultaneously on various aspects of the project. “It gave them the opportunity to really focus on that single genre and craft the hell out of it,” adds Shelley Smoler, chief creative officer at Droga5.

Work in progress images from the campaign

Each illustrator was briefed knowing just the book genre and their specific word or illustration to bring to life, leading to a rich combination of styles. A world of animated madness, sparked by a single word – much like the books the campaign showcased. With any group of people that large, all living in different time zones, managing them was no easy feat.

“It was making sure that not only [do we get] all the different pieces from these different illustrators and animators and artists, but also making sure that they all cohesively fit together,” adds Hubbard. “We had a collaborative effort between the director, creatives, our head of design Chris Chapman and his team of designers, and all the illustrators. Everyone held hands and made it happen.”

The 3D billboard

The team became aware that there wasn’t an emoji for reading and instead people use the book image paired with the ‘nerd’ face.

Contemporizing reading to a younger audience was one of Amazon’s objectives, so the geeky sentiment just wasn’t going to cut it. Cool people read, right?

Knowing this, the team created around 15 to 20 different emojis to convey different emotions linked to reading. Excitedly, these will be brought to life at Penn Station with a 3D billboard.

“We’ve picked three feelings represented in books and they’re brought to life through this big 3D emoji,” says Hubbard, noting that all of the emojis convey the campaign strapline and the 3D build will include a massive love, scared and ‘awww’ face.

“Books deserve so much more,” he concludes.

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