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.
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
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
The book reviews from the broadsheets were mainly positive, comparing
Fielding with Jane Austen and fuelling rumours of possible film
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’.
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.
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