It Takes a Jay-Z

Random House is really spending some cheese on innovative marketing to promote Jay-Z’s upcoming memoir, Decoded.

The publisher tapped Droga5, a Manhattan-based agency, to develop the campaign, which will distribute every page of the book in some physical location.  Regular old billboards will play a role in this, but so will swimming pools, the lining of suit coats, and, most importantly, Bing.

The campaign includes a scavenger hunt, utilizing Bing Maps, which will provide daily clues about the locations of pages.  Doesn’t matter if you live in NYC  or Fargo; if there’s a page posted on an overpass on the BQE, you’ll be able to find it via Bing.  The first players to find a page will get a signed hard copy of the book and be entered into a drawing for the big grand prize: a ticket to see Jay-Z and Coldplay in Concert on New Year’s in Las Vegas.

What’s particularly inspiring about this campaign is that even though its execution is expansive and expensive, the idea behind it is simple: the key thing needed to sell the book is…the story.  Jay-Z believes in his story.  He’s so confident that every page of the book is compelling that once you read one, you’ll want to read them all.

Sure this is an unusual case: it’s Jay-Z, who has a slightly larger platform than your average unpublished novelist.  But his confidence in his story is admirable.  It’s a belief every writer should have: your story should be so good that if you show somebody a single page of your work, they’ll want to read more.

Throw away those silly author photos, the book jackets, the blurbs.  Just find a way to get somebody the story.  Engage them with it.  Whether it’s developing a virtual scavenger hunt or  yelling your story from atop a milk crate in a busy intersection, just get it out there.  If it’s good, people will want it.


About Andrew Lewellen
Devoted Father. Helpful Husband. Dedicated Writer. Faithful Dog-Walker.

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