Kobo has lots of books, for lots of main characters

Who: Rakuten Kobo, with The Garden for strategy and creative; Someplace Nice for production (directed by Pete Henderson); Berkeley Inc. for audio; Rooster, Royal Muster and Yogico for post-production; Cairns Oneil for media.

What: “Main character energy,” a campaign for the e-reader’s Kobo Plus subscription service. It builds on last year’s “Be a reader, not a follower” campaign, celebrating readers who enjoy all kinds of books.

When & Where: The campaign began in late June and is running for 10 weeks across TV, online video, outdoor, cinema and audio.

Why: Kobo Plus offers unlimited access to catalogue or ebooks and audiobooks. And while the catalogue is large, it doesn’t include big-name titles, best-sellers and so on. But, according to Rakuten and The Garden, there are lots of people who prefer quicker, lighter, easier (choose your adjective) reads like murder mysteries, sci-fi, romance, and let’s say spicy romance. They argue that those readers have nothing to be ashamed of, and Kobo Plus is perfect for them.

“We really believe that all reading should be a pleasure. And that’s what’s at the heart of this platform and Kobo Plus’ subscription service,” said Lindsay Gray, director, brand and product marketing at Rakuten Kobo, in a release.

The “Be a reader, not a follower” campaign made heroes of people who proudly read whatever kind of book they like, rather than trying to read whatever is trendy or popular. That idea was used as the platform for the new campaign.

How: The campaign is built around the trend of people thinking of themselves as the “main character” in their own story, living their life “as if they are the hero/protagonist of their own grand plot,” according to a release.

The anchor TV spot shows a woman listening to a steamy romance audiobook called “Bus Lust.” As the narrator reads a passage from the book, the woman imagines herself as the main character, and spies her very unsuspecting romantic interest across the bus.

When the bus stops abruptly, she’s thrown into the man. He ends up holding her Kobo, sees the title, and says “I’m getting off here.” She slyly replies “me too,” though she is not getting off the bus. “Unleash your main character energy. Read and listen with Kobo Plus,” says a voiceover as a super introduces the unlimited book offer.

“Ebooks and audiobooks allow people to escape into their own fantasy land. Instead of going a traditional route and altering the world around her to reflect that, we wanted to show our hero unabashedly living her own lore, regardless of the cover judgers on the bus giving her side-eye.” said The Garden creative director Lindsay Eady. “Because it’s a reader’s world and everyone else is just living in it.”

Out-of-home ads feature pictures of readers with headlines like “Consider your plot thickened,” while contextually relevant audio is running across Spotify’s free tier, as well as podcasts.

And we quote: “There’s no need to power through a book you’re not loving just because of the shame of a DNF (did not finish). We have unlimited titles and genres you can explore and enjoy that bring the joy of reading back to the centre of the experience.” —Lindsay Gray, director, brand and product marketing, Rakuten Kobo


David Brown