CAMPAIGNS: Book launch successful, love life poor - Literary PR

Bridget Jones is the thirtysomething, neurotic singleton created by writer Helen Fielding. The first instalment of her obsessive life, Bridget Jones’s Diary, was a log of daily alcohol units, and calorie and cigarette counting, and was a runaway success.

Bridget Jones is the thirtysomething, neurotic singleton created by

writer Helen Fielding. The first instalment of her obsessive life,

Bridget Jones’s Diary, was a log of daily alcohol units, and calorie and

cigarette counting, and was a runaway success.



The book has sold more than four million copies in 30 countries and

spawned dozens of pale imitations.



The heroine’s second appearance, in The Edge of Reason, finds her

seeking enlightenment from self-help books and relationship guides,

while stumbling through a series of comic mishaps including a spell in a

Thai jail. Picador published the book on 18 November 1999.





Objectives



To sell as many books as possible by letting the widest possible

audience know that Bridget Jones was back and the new book was available

to buy.





Strategy and Plan



Picador only received the finished manuscript for The Edge of Reason at

the end of October, so publicity for the novel had to be squeezed into

four weeks. As an additional complication, the novel had to be embargoed

for reviews as a serialisation deal was signed with the Daily Telegraph

to run extracts on 18 and 19 November.



In order to let the larger-than-life personality of the fictional

creation speak for herself, the in-house team decided to keep the

campaign low-key. Fielding wrote a witty, self-deprecating press

release, and the publisher hired Freud Communications to act as a

personal publicist for the novelist.



The agency organised a private launch party at the Hilton Hotel in

London’s Park Lane, where waiters served trays of Silk Cut cigarettes

and Milk Tray chocolates. Freud Communications also set up a launch-day

book-signing on 17 November at Waterstones Piccadilly and handled

Fielding’s dealings with the broadcast media.





Measurement and Evaluation



The first story about the new novel appeared on the front page of the

Independent on 10 November. This was followed by a feature in London’s

Evening Standard and further national coverage, including column inches

in the Guardian and the Sunday Times.



Fielding’s press release, which was full of light-hearted statistics

such as ’Number of times have been asked the question ’Are you Bridget

Jones?’: Stephen Hawking-style infinitely huge number’, proved

popular.



The book reviews from the broadsheets were mainly positive, comparing

Fielding with Jane Austen and fuelling rumours of possible film

deals.



The time factor meant the book was not reviewed by the monthly

magazines, but Picador head of publicity Camilla Elworthy says the book

received a review from ’every major literary, news, broadsheet and

tabloid publication in the UK’.





Results



The figures speak for themselves, although the success of the original

book meant The Edge of Reason would never have been ignored. Within five

days of its launch, the book hit the number one spot in the Sunday Times

hardback fiction best-seller list, and in the run-up to Christmas, UK

sales were running at around 38,000 copies a week.



The tight four-week schedule actually worked in favour of the campaign,

as there was no time for a media backlash. ’It would have been bad if

people had known the book was coming out, but had to wait months to get

hold of it,’ says Elworthy.



Client: Picador

Campaign: Launch of Bridget Jones - The Edge Of Reason by Helen Fielding

PR Team: In-house and Freud Communications

Timescale: 18 October-18 November 1999

Budget: (undisclosed)



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