In January, Meyers + Partners did some B2B advertising work for World Book encyclopedias. It was a fun project. They had this new, super-advanced online encyclopedia program called World Book Advanced and we were tasked with doing a series of print ads that would get librarians to buy the product. It was competitively priced, and certainly more advanced than competitive products, but librarians weren’t very comfortable with World Book at the High School/College level. They thought it was more of a Middle School product, which it had been for many years.
I was stoked when I saw the screenshots of the product. They allowed kids to tag and mark up the encyclopedia articles (a la del.icio.us) and share them in “Research Folders” with students around the country. The searches combined encyclopedic articles with primary source materials, making it relevant for advanced research projects. All this verifiable secondary source material and primary source material at students’ fingertips, made even more powerful by some cool social/community sharing tools.
The process of creating the ads was fun, too. Scott Wild came in and did the project on freelance for us, and working with him was awesome, and certainly a learning experience.
The strategy that we developed revolved around the notion that the web contained a lot of content that was masquerading as fact. And that, in support of what we called “People for Learning” (kinda like “People Against Dirty”), World Book was bringing academically verified information to the fore.
Cool, right? We thought so, at least.
But for me, the interesting part was yet to come.
I was in a meeting with the CMO of World Book along with the President of our company. Fun meeting… we were tossing ideas back and forth and eventually we started talking about online stuff.
Their original idea was to create some sort of game for kids about learning.
Without thinking, I spoke up.
“No high school kid is going to want to play a web game. They have much better games to play elsewhere. What you should do is create a website where students can find bad facts, create videos about those bad facts, and upload them to the site. Then, World Book can respond with the correct facts.
“You’ll probably get a hundred or so of the nerdiest, techiest High School kids [people like me when I was in High School, you know, History Day winners] to submit videos. You won’t get millions of clicks. But this will make teachers psyched about World Book, and get librarians (a group of people who are getting younger and more tech-savvy every day) to think more seriously about World Book Advanced.”
So my boss called the CMO the other day to see how things were going with the campaign, and she directed him to the following website: http://videocontest.worldbook.com. They brought the idea to life, and did a pretty good job of it. Apparently they’ve got a significant number of entries, and the campaign has been very well received.
I’m excited that the idea worked. I definitely could have been wrong about it (how many interactive ideas actually end up working?) and I’m glad that they made it happen. I guess I would have made the entries visible to all site visitors… that way, other High Schoolers could see how many people had entered, and would think it was a “cool” thing to do… or maybe get their competitive juices going… but whatever. It’s good the way it is.
So… Bravo, World Book. Congratulations on trying something new, and congratulations on the success.