Round brings ‘That Harlequin feeling’ to romance fans across North America

Who: Harlequin and Round, with production partners Makers, animation studio Tonic DNA and Apollo Studios.

What: “That Harlequin feeling,” a brand repositioning with a specific focus on changing entrenched consumer perceptions of Harlequin. It is Round’s first campaign for the romance brand since winning the business in September.

When & Where: The campaign is built primarily around online video and paid social, with a heavy focus on the U.S. market—including out-of-home in select markets. In Canada, the campaign will also include a print ad in Canadian Living magazine.

Why: Based on extensive consumer research and brand strategy work, the campaign is aimed at changing “outdated perceptions” of the 71-year-old brand and celebrating how Harlequin books make women feel.

It comes as Harlequin, which publishes 66 titles across its 12 series each month, looks to recast itself as what it describes as a “fan-based entertainment company.” That includes pushing into new content areas such as movies.

“There was a real gap in the perception of Harlequin between non-readers and what readers enjoy,” says Round’s founding partner, Mike Davidson.

How: Consumer research conducted by Insignia Research found that Harlequin books tend to leave readers feeling “uplifted, inspired and empowered,” a phenomenon presented in the creative as “That Harlequin feeling.”

A blend of live-action and animation, the accompanying video shows a woman moving through an otherwise beige world, mouthing the words to the accompanying song and leaving colour in her wake.

What’s that song? It’s called “Dance In The Street,” and it was created specifically for the campaign by Apollo Studios.

And we quote: “We have an exciting opportunity ahead of us and it all begins with this campaign. It sets the stage for exciting new business initiatives coming in the months ahead. It’s very important to show new fans of romance fiction how our readers feel about Harlequin. Round captured exactly how special the brand makes our readers feel.” — Merjane Schoueri, VP marketing, Harlequin.


Chris Powell