Publisher puts man in stocks in Twitter-free stunt to promote book

The publisher Pan Macmillan set up hashtag-shaped wooden stocks in London earlier this week in front of a poster reading 'Years ago we put people in the stocks or the pillory to humiliate them in public. Now we just tweet', as a stunt to promote the book So You've Been Publicly Shamed.

The stunt targeted passersby in east London's Shoreditch, with a man occupying the stocks throughout Tuesday afternoon.

Members of the public were given a total of 5,000 free chapter samples from the book, written by journalist Jon Ronson as an investigation into what he saw as a great renaissance of public shaming that was "sweeping our land" – particularly on social media. It includes a new chapter about the writer's own experience of being publicly shamed.

The event, to promote the book's paperback publication on 31 December, was designed to create direct public engagement rather than creating a buzz on social media platforms, and therefore avoided the use of online interaction such as hashtags.

Pan Macmillan worked with creative agency Jack Arts to build the stunt. The publisher also works with Four Communications on a retained basis, but it was not involved directly in the stunt.

Fergus Edmondson, senior marketing manager at Pan Macmillan, said: "We wanted to use out-of-home media to do something that was fun, unconventional, eye-catching and provocative. Seeing someone in the stocks or the pillory was a sight common in medieval times, not in Shoreditch High Street in 2016.

"It's shocking and absurd, but it's a powerful image that conveys the message of the book. The reaction from the public has been fantastic. We've had hundreds of double-takes, some with laughter, and some with horror."

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