Getting London Reading with Nook

Jon Hill
Jon Hill (former) Activation Director

How we established the Nook as the favourite e-book reader for families by creating a high-profile live event in Leicester Square with the Evening Standard featuring Hugh Grant and Stephen Fry


The eReader NOOK, part of the Barnes & Noble educational retail group, offers an award-winning reader experience. But when it entered into the UK, it found itself in an extremely competitive market – a market dominated by Kindle, under threat by Kobo and under intense pressure from new entrant tablets like Galaxy.

But the challenges didn’t stop there. NOOK was being outspent 4:1 across the board, with the vital summer holidays period just around the corner. What’s more, everyone was saying the same thing – that their eReaders offered amazing technology and great convenience. To make its mark and build awareness in the UK, NOOK would have to find something very different to say.

Our research in the market led us to a compelling and concerning conclusion: as a nation, we face huge challenges in encouraging the rising generation to engage positively with reading.


As newspapers play such an important role in wider social and cultural issues, we approached a variety of media owners to find a solution. The work that the London Evening Standard was doing in tackling social issues in the Capital immediately struck a chord, and we saw an ideal opportunity for collaboration in its upcoming ‘Get London Reading’ campaign.

Of course, we wanted to go much further than sponsorship. In order to really hammer our message home and position NOOK as a true collaborator in the newspaper’s (and society’s) quest to make reading fun, we would have to do something that actually involved families and physically got them to engage with the NOOK product and its exclusive content.

It didn’t take us long to come to a conclusion about what we wanted to focus on. In a technology and gadget-obsessed world, it’s easy to lose sight of what e-readers are really all about: Reading.


We created a mammoth ‘Readathon’ in Trafalgar Square – a one-day read-a-long attracting over 20,000 people that offered a unique platform for NOOK to talk about reading, literacy and speak to a family audience.

Hosted by hugely popular presenters Dick & Dom, the Readathon got thousands of families flocking to the heart of London to hear the likes of Hugh Grant, Rupert Everett and Peppa Pig reading from – you guessed it – a NOOK eReader. The line-up consisted of a combination of celebrities and children’s authors, and was interspersed with performances from West End shows.

NOOK donated eReaders to volunteers at high-need schools linked with the campaign and participated in exclusive events throughout, which included special readings at schools with Stephen Fry, Boris Johnson and Harry Enfield.

An online hub, co-branded with the Evening Standard, offered families bespoke NOOK content and reading tips; editorial coverage (including front page) sparked a national debate around the importance of reading, positioning NOOK at the heart of it.

Partnering with The Evening Standard’s Get Reading campaign had a hugely positive impact; for NOOK (who had differentiated itself in the market and developed a unique and unrivalled reputation amongst families), for the Evening Standard, for London families, and for the wider UK public.

The numbers speak for themselves:

  • We ran 92 individual pieces of communication across the London Evening Standard, Independent and i
  • Circa 20,000 people turned up to Trafalgar Square for our ‘Readathon’ event
  • A branded online hub delivered over 185 million impressions  over a 5-month period (25% above expectations) with 91,767 unique users (most successful ever ES hub)
  • £2.2 million of national PR value, with over 150 news stories
  • Over 137,000 social media endorsements – from journalists, celebrities, the Mayor of London, authors and even Buckingham Palace!

We also won 'Best Newsbrand Campaign' at the 2013 Newsworks Planning Awards.