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Read Forever – Great advertising? Or the start of PR?

Last week, I wrote about my love of Barnes & Noble’s Read Forever campaign. The commercials they’re running are inspiring, lazy and reminiscent of the drizzly Saturday afternoons you spend curled up with a book.

But then I read The Fall of Advertising & The Rise of PR by Al and Laura Ries to prep for interviewing her on the Expert Access Radio Hour and my entire perception of advertising changed.

While the content of advertisements have always intrigued me, I began to realize that the content intrigued me in the same way it intrigues ad executives. As Al and Laura said, advertising has become an art. Ad execs want people to talk about their ads, and if people are talking, they’re considered successful regardless of whether or not they sell more of the product.

I even said it myself in my last blog post – I’m not in the market for an Ereader right now and won’t be rushing out to buy a Nook any time soon so even though I like the ad, it didn’t increase sales when it comes to me.

And I agree with the statement that the Read Forever commercial is a piece of art, but only because it’s a poem:

Till all the books are read

And all the pens are put down

And everything there is to learn is learned

Till tears are no longer shed

And the zingers have all zinged

And the irony is all ironed out

Till the heroes retire

And the monsters return to their dens

And all the plots are wrapped up

Till there are no more twists or turns

No more guns in drawers

No more shaggy dogs

Till rhymes stop rhyming

And pots stop boiling

And everyone is happy and there’s nothing more to say

Till that day

By hook or by crook

By book or by Nook

I will read

Al and Laura relate PR and advertising to the Aesop fable of the sune and the wind. The more wind blows, the more closely people will hold their coat, but if the sun shines it can get a person to take off their coat. Advertising is the wind, too much of it and a person will find your message unwlecome. PR is the sun, it just shines and sometimes the media picks up on it and takes off their coat.

The Read Forever campaign is more like the sun than the wind. It’s still an advertisement, but it doesn’t employ any of the flashy, “look at me! look at me!” aspects that normal ads use. It doesn’t even claim “we’re the best” or “the Nook is an better Ereader than its competitors.”

I don’t know what sort of PR Barnes and Noble is doing around the Read Forever campaign, but they did a great job giving their ad a PR feel. It’s trustworthy and I’m now convinced that B&N is dedicated to the concept of reading. They aren’t just trying to sell Nooks, they aren’t trying to get rid of print pages. They want people to read regardless of what media they’re using.

So is the By Hook or By Crook commercial it an effective advertisement? Or a nod to PR? Or a work of art? I think it’s a the latter two. But what about you?

Post By Liz Harter (70 Posts)

Liz Harter has a degree in English Writing with a minor in Spanish from Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Ind. She is an award winning journalist on the collegiate level with a strong background in journalism. She currently works in PR and is a social media autodidact Google+

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About the Author

Liz Harter has a degree in English Writing with a minor in Spanish from Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Ind. She is an award winning journalist on the collegiate level with a strong background in journalism. She currently works in PR and is a social media autodidact Google+

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