World Book Day was commemorated across the UK and Ireland on 23
April - Shakespeare’s birthday. It was jointly organised by the
publishing and bookselling industries, and received support from the
BBC, Government and other agencies. Every child in full-time education
between the ages of four and 18 was given a pounds 1 book voucher to
spend in participating bookshops.
To emphasise the importance of reading, for learning and pleasure,
particularly among children. To get children to use their vouchers.
With so many different groups - publishers, booksellers, schools and
writers - involved in the promotion and organising their own events, it
was vital that Colman Getty communicated with all parties.
The agency contacted publishers and booksellers involved in the
initiative, explaining the voucher scheme. Publishers were targeted to
get willing authors involved in the campaign, either to visit schools or
bookshops on the day, and Colman Getty produced a list of authors and
All the participants were supplied with fax-back forms, to keep Colman
Getty informed of the events being planned in schools and bookshops
across the country.
Colman Getty helped in producing a schools’ pack with ideas on how to
celebrate the day. This was sent to all schools. The events were then
compiled into a 50-page summary, divided into counties, and this was
supplied to local newspapers and broadcasting outlets in the regions. On
the actual day a celebratory event was held at London’s Globe theatre,
with children from 16 local schools. The Prime Minister Tony Blair and
his wife Cherie Booth, plus culture minister Chris Smith and education
secretary David Blunkett, attended and chatted to the children.
Despite the appearance of Robin Cook with his new wife as a leading
picture in many of the nationals the day after World Book Day, the
campaign achieved an enormous amount of coverage, generating well over
As well as all the media coverage the day attracted, the Times linked up
with Waterstone’s and the Independent with Blackwells, to produce
special supplements. The Guardian also produced its own supplement.
The day was also covered in magazines ranging from Cosmopolitan to Good
Housekeeping and the Times Education Supplement.
According to data collected from high street bookstores (excluding WH
Smith and supermarkets) total weekly book sales rose from 1,178,186 in
the week before World Book Day, to 1, 458,251 during that week, and
1,576,544 in the week after the day.
The information on the number of vouchers exchanged is still being
collated and will be available later in the year.
Luthfa Begum, marketing assistant for booksellers Books etc. says: ’The
day went very well, and the event won more media attention than ever
before.’ Sales were up for Books etc, as for many other chains but Begum
points out that this is perhaps due to events organised by bookshops
themselves, as well as media coverage.
The BBC’s involvement undoubtedly helped to raise the profile, however
the interest and support from so many different sectors bodes well for
the upcoming National Year of Reading, due to start in September.
Client: World Book Day Steering Committee
PR Team: Colman Getty
Campaign: World Book Day
Timing: November 1997 - April 1998