AUDIBLE: LISTENING TO THE MARKET
For a child, being read to is a nightly pleasure. For an adult, it can be a killer time-saving app. Imagine “reading” the latest business advice without taking your eyes off the road, or turning a redeye flight into a literary experience without needing to open your eyes. Audiobooks are now mainstream, and the go-to provider is Amazon’s Audible.
When they approached Scorch for an above-the-line campaign, Audible was clear about wanting new signups. But beyond raw numbers, the company wanted to raise awareness of the simple pleasures available by listening to literature. A campaign-worthy idea kicked off a three-pronged approach of cold-season cleverness—positioning audiobooks as the ideal way to use the day’s downtime productively.
WHERE THEY WERE
In a crowded market for consumer attention, Audible succeeds by storytelling. The Amazon-owned company puts the written word in your ear—selling thousands of human-narrated audiobooks, many you’ll recognise from the bestseller lists. Whether you lend an ear Stephen Fry doing Sherlock Holmes as you pass Baker Street Tube, Philip Pullman while driving to Oxford, or a (whip)cracking tale from the Fifty Shades trilogy, Audible’s output is growing.
But there’s a problem. Millions of people who spend hours each day listening to songs or podcasts simply don’t know what Audible does—and that’s an opportunity. But these people aren’t technophobes: they already watch NetFlix, subscribe to Spotify, own a Kindle. It’s a common complaint among publishers that people don’t read any more, but maybe they’d listen?
WHAT THEY WANTED
Audible knew the auditory channel was a different way of consuming books. They wanted to introduce their audience to a new idea: audiobooks aren’t just an alternative form of reading. They offer real benefits in both how much effort it needs (it doesn’t stop you doing something else, like driving, at the same time) and the intensity of the experience, as a human voice adds warmth and colour to a text.
Few consumers knew that over 200,000 books are available in listenable form—and can often be great value. (An Audible subscription gets you one book a month at no further cost, and enables discounts on others up to 70%.)
Budgets, as always, were limited, but Scorch’s imagination was not. After all, everyone at the London agency knew the old advertising adage: the best part of radio is the scenery. Scorch’s Sian Finnis and Duncan Ramsay heard their client loud and clear—and were ready to turn words into action.
WHAT WE DID
Audible’s focus had been on attracting non-readers. But Scorch’s findings—from a series of in-depth interviews with consumers, put into context by qualitative research—suggested a juicier market was people with an existing love of books, who’d welcome a way to keep on reading while doing other stuff. It was a new strategy, but how could it be executed?
Scorch’s thinking: words paint pictures in our minds, take us into other people’s lives, transport us to distant places. That’s what the team set out to evoke: a sense of blockbuster-scale settings, using the power of the listener’s imagination.
Early ideas made the most of the auditory channel by turning everyday settings—coffee shop, home—into scenes from the books the actors were listening to, the viewer hearing the actor’s inner monologues as they superimposed the narrative onto their environment. What’s that man doing with that butter knife—is he a cold-blooded killer? How about the older woman by the fireplace—a black widow in waiting? Five creative paths were explored, with the final idea leading to a viral video shot on the streets.
The kickoff execution of “Time to Listen” opened on visuals of common places: a train platform, supermarkets, the gym. Complete with matched voiceovers: the tinny rasp of a train announcer, the sterile drone of the shopping aisle. But the words put in each announcer’s mouth were a long way from “Mind the gap.”
A Stationmaster complained of extreme loneliness; a shopping jingle espoused sexual frustration. The reveal: they were all lines from “Bridget Jones Diary”. Available, of course, on Audible.
The viral spot paved the way for the TV campaign – a Sunday jogger lost herself in the dulcet tones of broadcaster Clare Balding . . . with Clare herself at her side. Other spots added funnymen Russell Brand and Stephen Fry to the mix. The spots illustrated how listening powers the imagination.
The cold-season campaign made the most of people’s propensity to download apps on the devices they got for Christmas, running through January and February. In the dark days of Winter, consumers were more inclined to listen.
The campaign fanned out across media, with the VOD and TVC spots joined by a quartet of radio ads. Print also had a role, with Tubeside 16 and 48-sheets making their mark on the Underground in addition to in-carriage media and taxi panels on the streets above. Hitting the consumer at just the right moment: when they’re in transit from one place to another, people to see and places to be. You may not have time to read, but there’s always time to listen.
So: the numbers. Trial take-ups of Audible—actual downloads—increased by 50% during the campaign itself. An impressive figure. But even more exciting: that number stayed at 40% after the campaign concluded, suggesting the Audible narrative had truly been heard . . . and understood.
We’re all about the power of words at Scorch—our team are unusually voracious readers, and many of them are now Audible subscribers as a result. And the same goes if you’re looking for a creative agency to write your next marketing strategy: we’re ready to listen. So give the friendly team at Scorch London a call today.
WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY
I've worked with Scorch for 2 years and I continue to be impressed by their work. The Scorch team owns each project from beginning to end: they use their expertise to develop campaign flow and staging, but with a flexibility that allows us as the client to create exactly what we need. From concept to shoot to post-production work, I know I can rely on Scorch to deliver an end result that is cutting-edge, relevant and engaging for my audience. And the team is a blast to work with too!KMS