CAMPAIGNS: Product (Re)Launch - New and old Janet and John face off

Client: Star Kids

Client: Star Kids

Campaign: Re-launch of Janet and John reading books

PR Team: Luther Pendragon

Timescale: January 2000 - ongoing

Budget: pounds 15,000

Making a splash in the crowded publishing pool of children's books is no mean feat, especially if your goal is to resurrect an old-fashioned series.


To re-launch the Janet and John reading books, targeting parents rather than teachers.

Strategy and Plan

The main challenge facing Luther Pendragon was to overcome negative perceptions - Janet and John were deemed dated.

Anticipating controversy on the basis that the Janet and John reading scheme was not in vogue and that the product could be criticised for relying too heavily on nostalgia, Luther Pendragon used this to fuel further debate. It also focused on ensuring picture desks had a visual story to work with: old Janet and John versus the new.

An electronic teaser was sent out to all media introducing the new characters a week before the launch. The Daily Mail was offered a visual exclusive the day before the launch taking advantage of a headline that appeared four years ago begging 'Bring back Janet and John'.

On the day of the launch Luther Pendragon held a press conference to maximise the visual aspects of the campaign.

Measurement and Evaluation

More than 40 broadcasters covered the story. The Daily Mail featured a double-page spread and most national and regional newspapers did visual stories and/or editorial pieces.

Despite a disgruntled reaction to the Daily Mail exclusive, all picture desks, most national and regional media and several TV stations attended the launch.

The controversy element generated further coverage. Notably, the Today programme hosted a debate between the publishers and an academic who believed the Janet and John reading scheme was outdated.


The criticism of Janet and John only seems to have heightened interest.

Though unable to give official figures, Star Kids says it has been inundated with orders.

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