CAMPAIGN: Books create Christmas magic in the South West

Arts Council South West is the development agency for the arts in the South West, investing public funds from the Government and the National Lottery to provide the bedrock of support for the arts in the region.

Campaign: 'Christmas books - remember the magic of reading'
Client: Arts Council England, South West
PR team: Watershed PR and Marketing
Timescale: Two weeks in November/December 2007
Budget: £5,000

To promote reading in the area, it launched 'Christmas books - remember the magic of reading' at the end of last year.

Objectives
To promote literature and reading in the South West in the run up to Christmas, paying special attention to children. To promote the Arts Council England South West brand.

Strategy and plan
Watershed devised the campaign to harness the emotional pull of festive childhood reads that make Christmas 'Christmassy'.

Watershed used the Society of Authors to ask local authors about their favourite Christmas books or poems from their childhood.

More than 30 novelists, including best-sellers Joanna Trollope and Minette Walters, spoke of their favourite titles, and gave personal recollections.

An expert from charity the Reading Agency also gave top tips for parents on how to encourage reading at Christmas.

Press releases were then sent to local newspapers in the South West.

TV news journalists attended events at local schools, and radio stations were invited to interview local authors.

Local people were also interviewed about their favourite Christmas books for a three-minute podcast.

Measurement and evaluation
The campaign featured on ITV Westcountry Live, and the authors were interviewed on BBC Radio Cornwall, Gloucester, Bristol and Wiltshire, as well as commercial radio stations in Avon, Somerset and Cornwall.

It was also covered by all the area's major regional papers.

Results
The top three most popular childhood Christmas reads as nominated by the Society of Authors were: 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, A Christmas Carol and A Child's Christmas in Wales.

Bookseller Waterstones reported a 25 per cent increase in sales of Dylan Thomas's A Child's Christmas in Wales, during December 2007.

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